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How to Run a Successful Salon: Complete Guide

Guide to Running a Successful Salon

Running a beauty salon isn’t for everyone, and takes a lot of planning and strategizing in order to ensure your ongoing success. Between the preparation that needs to get done when opening a salon, including saving up for start-up costs, notifying existing clientele and your current employer, and preparing your services and marketing strategies, plus all of the strategy and work that goes into keeping your salon successful, there’s a lot that goes into owning your business and keeping your salon in the green. 

We’ve got your complete guide to running a successful salon - the right way! From opening your salon and preparing for your journey to keeping clients engaged and coming back for more, follow this guide to make sure all of your bases are effectively covered to keep your business running smoothly. 

Table of Contents

  • How to Start Your Own Salon
  • How to Run a Successful Beauty Salon
  • Salon Management Tips
  • Commons Mistakes to Avoid During Salon Ownership
  • Final Thoughts
  • READ: How to Start a Waxing Business in 2023

    How to Start Your Own Salon

    Before you start your business, there are months and even years of planning that need to be taken to properly prepare yourself and your business for opening. 

    Determine Your Readiness

    Opening a salon takes a lot of time, money, and preparation to make more. You should only start the process of striking out on your own once you’ve built up your loyal clientele who will follow you to your new place, have at least 6 months' worth of rent saved up in anticipation of your opening, and have the proper licenses for your services. 

    You should also create your marketing and business plans and establish what services you want to offer, as well as your pricing before you even start looking for locations and beginning the actual transition. 

    Salon Supplies

    Decide on a Timeline

    When opening your business, you should always anticipate financial responsibilities and the transitional period you’ll have when going from an employee to an independent business owner. These are huge adjustments, and should always be taken into account when considering going out on your own. 

    You’ll need time to save up, inform your clientele and transition into regular work at your new business, while also creating your business and marketing plans and getting into a groove with your new gig. Don’t rush things, and don’t jump into this much of a commitment without all of your details squared away. 

  • Anticipating Costs & Saving Up
  • Opening a salon comes with many costs that you should be aware of and fully prepared for before your doors open. As a baseline, you should anticipate not only your upfront deposit and rent costs for your space but also the costs of outfitting and designing your salon and the following costs of equipment and items needed for services: 

    • Supplies for waxing:
      • Waxes 
      • Pre & post products 
    • Items for formula application & removal, etc:
      • Spatulas
      • Cotton rounds
      • Gloves
      • Tissues
      • Paper towels
      • Bed paper
      • Q-tips
      • Spoolies
      • Brow brushes
      • Tweezers/scissors
    • Equipment:
      • Warmer
      • Spa Bed 

    These are just some of the items you’ll need to provide everyday services. Having quality equipment, waxes, and even disposable items to perform waxes will make a huge difference in the results your clients receive and in the success of your business. Whether just starting out or several years into ownership, don’t cut corners in these areas. 

  • Deciding on Salon Services
  • Whether you’re focusing on services you might specialize in or offering a wide variety of options for clients to choose from, deciding on your offering and setting prices before getting started with the actual opening process will allow you to ensure your salon is well-rounded and your services will bring in enough revenue to not only break even with costs of operation but will make you a profit. 

     Esthetician providing a facial service

    READ: How to Become an Esthetician

    How to Run a Successful Salon

    After opening your business and getting into the swing of things, you’ll of course want to keep your momentum going and your salon growing. 

    Part of this involves retaining consistent marketing, keeping things cost-effective while also attracting new customers with specials, promotions, and attractive pricing (while retaining existing ones!), and all in all ensuring your business isn’t lacking in any areas. 

    This can mean anything from not standardizing your training across employees (if you have them) or services, ordering more product than is needed to not keeping track of inventory, or charging too little for services as larger economic factors come into play. 

    Another huge aspect of keeping your salon running smoothly is ensuring your customers are satisfied and speak of your business positively (which brings other customers in!). Always talk to your clients and make sure that they’re happy with your services, and customer experience, and that they’re getting good results. Your relationship with them and their loyalty means everything. 

    If you offer waxing services, having the right formula also makes a huge difference in the quality of your services and the success of your business.

    Starpil Hard Wax

    Whether using hard or soft wax, you should always have a go-to waxing formula, as well as a specialty offering for clients with reactive skin types, or services concerning more sensitive areas. Your formula should cater to your clients’ needs, be easy to use for you, yield amazing and consistent results, and be cost-effective for your business. 

    READ: Best Esthetician Services to Offer Clients

    Salon Management Tips

    Running a salon takes a lot of ongoing attention to detail and emphasizes the need for constant checking of yourself and those working with you. From keeping track of ordering or making sure your customer service is on point, keeping your salon running smoothly will benefit you and your clients in the short and long run. 

  • Ordering & Inventory
  • Remember, managing your ordering and inventory is how your business makes money and keeps it successful. Always keep careful track of many pounds of hard wax you’re ordering vs. how much you’re using, as well as the costs of disposable items like gloves, q-tips, and spatulas. 

    Anticipating your continuing costs (or the rise of them), as well as ordering before you’ve run out of all of these items will keep your operation running smoothly, and will let you keep costs down. These costs should also be adjusted seasonally to account for slower times of the year or increases in clientele or business. 

  • Customer Service
  • The customer service experience your business gives clients is huge when it comes to keeping clients happy and coming back. Whether you’re working on your own or have employees, keep in mind that the people manning your front desk (even if that’s just you), gives your clients their first impressions and will keep your scheduling and services in check. 

    Having a good customer service experience will also make things easier for you to make adjustments as needed in your business, whether that means taking credit cards when booking to secure spots, requiring late fees or no-show policies, or even when raising or adjusting prices. 

    If your clients have a good customer service experience, they’re more likely to come back and embrace any changes you’re making. Remember, communication is key, and having quality customer service is important in facilitating this. 

    READ: The Ultimate Salon Marketing Guide

    Commons Mistakes to Avoid When Running a Salon

    There are many missteps you can make when starting or running your business, but they can be easily avoided with the right preparation. 

  • Lack of Experience
  • Starting a business requires experience in the field and a loyal clientele who will follow you to a new location. Starting out with no following or without a knowledge of how the industry works can unfortunately increase your chances of starting off on the wrong foot or losing money. 

  • Savings & Spending
  • This is a part of creating a good ongoing business plan for businesses new or existing, but you should always anticipate loans, costs of staffing (or hiring new employees), costs of materials and products, as well as current or rising costs of rent, insurance, and more. 

  • Location & Competition
  • Ensuring your salon is in a good location is a massive consideration - and can make or break your business. Consider how convenient your location is for existing clients, or how accessible it is through a variety of transportation options for new ones. Does your area have good existing traffic? Is it a part of a shopping center or setup that includes other shops that could help your business, like a nearby coffee shop, boutique, or other places that attract customers? 

    Consider the local clientele outside of your existing clients. Consider what’s popular in the area and what people look for from services and how the vibe or feel of your salon would fit those you’re looking to attract currently or in the future. 

    When looking at your existing or future business’ location, consider the competition in the area to determine where your business might be lacking or where there might be a market gap to slip into. 

  • Marketing Missteps
  • This goes hand in hand with choosing an accessible location and a salon feel that appeals to those in the area, but having a good marketing plan is key in keeping your salon successful and retaining clients. 

    This goes beyond just constantly posting on social media, as well - create an email newsletter, keep clients engaged through multiple channels, offer promotions, and always have something ongoing to keep your clients loyal and locked into the goings on at your business. 

    READ: How to Raise Prices in a Salon in 2023

    Final Thoughts

    Running your own salon comes with a lot of responsibilities and a lot of freedom - and so many esthies wouldn’t have it any other way. Keeping your business successful and running smoothly is all in the fine details. From having the right preparation when opening your doors, to offering the right services and using the right formulas, creating an overall client experience that can’t be offered anywhere else will set you up for success. 

    Looking for even more in-depth insight and knowledge for opening or running a successful salon?

    Opening a Salon Business

    Check out Starpil University’s Opening a Waxing Business Course to receive professional guidance and get your salon started off on the right foot. 


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