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How to Open a Salon

By Livy Lenhart

March 20, 2024

Diving into the world of salon ownership requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and a solid understanding of the industry.

In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the process of opening a salon, covering everything from defining your vision and securing funding to finding the perfect location and attracting a loyal clientele.

As you start this new venture, you need to:

  • Draft a business plan
  • Identify an optimal location
  • Finance your business
  • Ensure your salon is well-equipped
  • Select the ideal management software
  • Recruit and maintain an exceptional team
  • Create a remarkable and unforgettable customer experience

We’ll help you turn your dream into a reality.

Draft a business plan

A strong business plan serves as the foundation of your salon. By documenting your business goals, target market, pricing structure, marketing strategies, and financial projections, you gain valuable insights to make more informed decisions and potentially secure funding. You’ll need to consider the appropriate legal structure for your business at this stage, too.

To help you get started, download a copy of our Business Plan Template for Salon Owners.

Determine your niche

Start by asking yourself these important questions: What makes your salon unique? What specific expertise or style do you bring to the table? What services align with my skills, expertise, and passion? By answering these questions, you can identify a niche that sets you apart and appeals to your ideal customers.

Establish your brand identity

One of the biggest business decisions you'll make is choosing a name for your business. Your new name needs to both catch the attention of your clients and convey your brand message. The right name will set you up for success for years to come. Use our How to Choose the Perfect Name for Your Salon checklist to brainstorm, evaluate, and decide on yours.

Building your brand goes beyond just a name; it includes defining your salon’s identity, engaging with customers both online and in person, and establishing a distinct visual presence. Your brand essentially reflects the personality of your business.

A vital component of your brand is your visual brand identity, which will be showcased online, in marketing materials, within your physical space, and even on branded merchandise. This includes elements such as:

To assist you in creating a cohesive and captivating brand, download a copy of our comprehensive guide: How to Create a Brand That Sets Your Business Apart.

Define your target audience

Defining your target audience helps you to understand the specific needs, preferences, and characteristics of your ideal customers. By identifying your target audience, you can tailor your salon services, marketing strategies, and overall brand experience to effectively attract and engage with the right clientele.

Create a marketing strategy

Ready to promote your salon and increase its visibility? Let’s dive into the world of marketing.

As an essential component of your overall business plan, your marketing strategy should incorporate the following elements:

  • Digital marketing: 
  • Local advertising and/or partnerships: 
    • Utilize local advertising channels to target and reach potential customers within your salon’s vicinity. This could include local event sponsorship, ads in local publications, and community newsletters or bulletins.
    • Partner with complementary businesses to expand your reach, attract new clients, and create mutually beneficial relationships. Cross-promotions, joint marketing campaigns, or referral programs can incentivize clients to engage with both businesses, increasing customer loyalty and retention.
  • Events: 
    • Organize events to promote your new salon and give potential customers the chance to experience your services, connect with your team, and get a taste of the unique atmosphere and offerings it provides. Planning a pop-up for your business or hosting an open house will ensure that you are effectively marketing your salon within your community.

To flesh out your expected marketing costs, download our guide on how to create a marketing plan and budget, as well as the accompanying marketing plan template.

Determine the pricing structure for your services

Deciding on a pricing structure for your range of services is foundational. This guide provides the best ways to price your services for optimal retention.

As you determine pricing for your salon services, don’t underestimate the power of an intro offer. An intro offer incentivizes potential customers to experience your services and creates a positive first impression. It serves as a powerful marketing tool to generate buzz, drive initial foot traffic, and build a solid foundation for long-term success. These three salon intro offers will help you retain new clients.

Consider ways to make recurring revenue

Consistent and recurring revenue streams are essential for long-term success. By exploring strategic approaches, such as implementing membership programs, offering subscription-based services, or introducing loyalty reward systems, you can create a steady flow of income while fostering client loyalty and maximizing profitability.

Here’s how to create a membership program that efficiently generates recurring revenue for your salon.


Your business plan will play a crucial role in accurately estimating the costs involved in launching and operating your new salon. In addition to factors like rent and payroll, consider the costs associated with build-out, equipment, and other necessary investments to get your salon up and running smoothly. Ongoing expenses like salon management software (more on that in a bit), maintenance, and repairs should also be taken into account to ensure the long-term success of your business.

Note: These costs will likely all be tax deductible. Get the details on other salon-specific tax deductions.

Location, location, location

Choosing the right location for your new salon is critical, as it can significantly impact your success. A strategic location considers:

  • Parking
  • Visibility
  • Competition
    • Research the presence of other salons in the vicinity and assess their offerings, pricing, and target market.
  • Surrounding businesses
    • Are they currently serving the customers you want to attract?
  • Zoning regulations
    • Some towns and cities won't let you open a business in a residential area, others may. Research this while getting your license to see what the rules are where you want to be—and definitely before signing a lease.

Finance your business

Securing proper financing for your salon is crucial, as it provides the necessary capital to cover essential expenses. Adequate financing allows you to establish a strong foundation for your salon, invest in quality resources, attract customers, and navigate any unforeseen financial challenges that may arise during the early stages of your business.

The financing process can sometimes be challenging. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) is a valuable resource for information on financing options, offering a lender match program to help you find a suitable loan.

Regardless of the route you choose, have a clear financial plan to effectively manage your resources and ensure financial stability for your salon.

Equip your salon

Equipment has a direct impact on the quality of services you offer and the overall customer experience. By investing in high-quality salon equipment, tools, and products, you can leave a lasting impression on your clients and reinforce their confidence in the quality of your services. Well-equipped salons provide a professional and inviting atmosphere, which instills confidence in your customers and sets the stage for exceptional service delivery.

For most salons, a well-stocked retail section is key to increasing profits and helping clients maintain their results at home. Need a dose of inspiration to display your products? Browse our salon merchandising Pinterest board. This guide breaks down how to make more money through retail at your salon or spa. Speaking of revenue opportunities, check out How to Sell Gift Cards Like a Pro, too.

Impactful design considerations

Thoughtful design has a significant impact on the experience you provide for clients. Read this article to discover key insights and expert advice on crafting an exceptional salon space.

Select salon management software

The right salon software will help streamline and automate various aspects of your business operations, such as appointment scheduling, client management, inventory tracking, and financial reporting. Here’s how to choose a software that supports your business growth and enhances client retention for your salon.

Recruit and retain an exceptional team

Recruiting and retaining reliable and skilled staff is undoubtedly challenging but critical to the success of your salon. The talented individuals you hire will directly influence the quality of service, customer satisfaction, and overall reputation of your salon. By assembling a skilled and dedicated team, you can create a positive work environment, foster employee loyalty, and provide outstanding experiences that keep clients coming back.

Determine your staffing needs and compensation

Once you’ve determined the range of services your salon will offer, staffing is the next step.

Begin by clearly defining the roles and responsibilities required for your salon, such as stylists, estheticians, receptionists, and more. Determine the specific qualifications, certifications, and experience needed for each position and create detailed job qualifications that outline the necessary skills and responsibilities. Be sure to download a copy of The Complete Guide to Staffing and our salon staffing template.

When thinking about compensation for your salon team, you’ll need to strike a balance that recognizes their contributions while adhering to industry standards. It's equally important to optimize your payroll to support your bottom line.

Training your team

Training should cover a range of topics, including technical skills, customer service, product knowledge, and salon policies. By investing in your team's development early, you not only foster their professional growth but also ensure a cohesive and high-performing staff.

A detailed onboarding plan is key. Make sure your new hire is introduced to all relevant employees and gets a feel for how each part of the business runs. Doing so allows them to familiarize themselves with the business, understand their role's impact, and save time in the future.

Provide software training

If your team handles sales and spends time using your salon software, they'll need solid training on your systems and procedures, as well as logins.

Some salon software providers offer free training for various staff levels—from front-desk to management. Mindbody's software certifications program will help your team become as efficient as possible.

Create an unforgettable customer experience

In the competitive salon industry, setting yourself apart means delivering an exceptional customer experience.

The key to an exceptional customer experience? Personalized and attentive service. By understanding and catering to each customer’s unique needs and preferences, offering high-quality treatments or services, and creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere, you can ensure that every customer feels valued, pampered, and satisfied.

This customer experience audit is designed for existing salons to evaluate their business. Use it to lay the foundation for your success at every touchpoint.   

In closing

This post has only scratched the surface of what it takes to start your own salon, but we hope it’s been a helpful overview.

As you embark on this exciting journey, remember to embrace the challenges with confidence and have fun along the way. Each step you take brings you closer to turning your vision into reality. We're here with resources to help your salon thrive along the way!

Start your journey with the best salon management software on the market.

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About the author:

Livy Lenhart

Livy Lenhart

Guest Blogger

Livy Lenhart is a marketing and entrepreneurship student at Penn State University. As a fitness instructor, wellness enthusiast, and entrepreneur herself, Livy is passionate about people and strives to help business owners unleash their best selves. 

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