To move salon, or not to move

Move salon
Lisa Conway
Salon Coach
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Bricks and mortar retail has suffered terribly with online shopping making it far easier to purchase without leaving the house. The direct impact on the viability of physical retail stores means there are big reductions in landlords’ asking prices for rent.

Can you hear the opportunity knocking? I can – there has never been a better time to re-think your salon’s lease.

Here in Richmond, Victoria, when I am walking up Bridge Road with my dog, I notice one in three shops is empty. The rent the landlords were collecting is no longer there. I’d be really annoyed if I had a commercial property to let. I doubt they ever imagined that prime real estate like this would suffer. But it did, and it has.

Some of the shops here have been empty for months and months. If ever you’ve thought that your salon was too big, too small or the wrong shape or in the wrong location, now would be a super-smart time to think about whether or not renewing the next option of your lease is your best move.

You might think about doing your homework first and then come back to your current landlord and explain why you were going to move salon. Perhaps he’d be interested in lowering your rent to keep you, given the market has changed? What do you have to lose?

You need to consider that some things may be better and some things may not. Providing you write down all the pros and cons and have someone who’s not emotionally connected to your business go through the list, you can make a sound decision on whether to move or not to move. Make sure you’re not losing sight of your salon’s business strategy!

Providing you write down all the pros and cons and have someone who’s not emotionally connected to your business go through the list, you can make a sound decision on whether to move or not to move.

I’ve assisted salon owners many times with relocating and I know if you do your  due diligence you will take over 90 percent of your clientele with you. It actually puts you in a great position to build a larger clientele. When you arrive in your new premises you create interest in and around that new location, enticing people to test you out. If they like what they experience, you gain them as long-term clients along with your loyal existing clients.

Relocating gives you an opportunity to leave behind bad habits or change things you could never change in your previous location. Maybe your basins are located where the copier or printer is. Maybe the sun streams in at a bad angle at a certain time of year or you have neighbouring shops that attract a seedy crowd. Relocating means you can correct some challenges that you could never do if you stayed where you were.

Be mindful, though: more space does not mean more income. If you’re moving to a bigger space with the same number of beauty rooms or styling chairs, I’d tread carefully unless the rent is lower.

I strongly suggest that you do the numbers and plan, plan, plan. Will you lose any trading days? Possibly not if you can operate in your current location while the other is being fitted out, closing down one day and opening at your new salon the next. That will depend on what equipment and stock you are taking across with you. For example if you’re using your existing basins, you might need to close down for a few days.

Outgoings, like costs of heating and cooling, might differ in the new location. Check out parking options for both your team and clients, and whether there are unavoidable costs like a new floor, plumbing or electrical.

Outgoings, like costs of heating and cooling, might differ in the new location. 

You can (and probably should) retain your business name and your brand but you’ll need to re-do your salon’s marketing collateral and anything that is using the old address.

I recently went to meet with a new salon and when I arrived, the street number I was given was a florist. I Googled and the salon’s name still came up with the address where the florist was located. The florist told me they’d moved in two years earlier and had asked many time to have the changes made, but it just hadn’t happened.

If you go with my ‘naked thinking’ of always considering the customer first, there’s no excuse for having an incorrect address for your internet presence. Your new neighbourhood will be different. You might have once been near a post office, bank or a restaurant.

Your new location might not share such heavy passing traffic. That doesn’t mean your move will be unsuccessful. It could mean that you’ll derive your new clients more from your marketing efforts than from simply relying on who’s walking by your salon.

Even salons that I’ve found incredibly hard to locate on my first visit because of poor signage and out-of-the-way locations, have rocking businesses because they deliver such awesome customer service in their salons that their clients naturally refer.

Equally, many salons that are in a prime location in an amazing suburb don’t share that same kind of business success. Inevitably that’s down to the inability of the team to deliver a remarkable and exceptional solution to the customers’ hair needs. It wouldn’t matter where these salons were located.

Even if you weren’t thinking of moving, why not look at now as a time to review what you pay for your rent? Is it the best use of that money? Rent makes up a big portion of your outgoings and it’s a fixed expense, unlike wages that you can adjust to the growth of your business.

Again, do your figures, look around at the opportunities in the rental market and see if now is the right time to move or expand your salon.

This article originally appeared in InStyle Magazine.

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