I went to see a salon last week that is up for sale. Through instinct I knew as soon as I entered that it would not be right for our business and it got me thinking about what makes the right premises for a successful beauty salon.
Each salon has different considerations, of course, so this is all about our business. I’ve written before about my calculations on salon room profit before so I have a clear idea about what works for me and ultimately I look at a combination of a two key things – size and location.
The number of rooms in a beauty salon that works best for us is 3 treatment rooms plus a spare room for a sun bed. Add to this the space in a reception room for 2-3 manicure desks and you end up with maximum seven profit centres.
There is a fine balance when between the number of rooms of you need and the number of rooms you can fill on a consistent basis. Most salons will get busy during the summer months, but on a cold February Tuesday morning, you will still be paying rent, rates and business taxes on the space whether you have clients in or not.
On the flip-side, if you have a small salon with (say) two treatment rooms, you may not have the flexibility to offer enough treatment spaces to regular clients and you can not maximise your limited space to make enough money to cover overall business costs.
Another thing to throw into the pot is your regular fixed outgoings which won’t change that much whether you have 2, 3 or 4 rooms. Things like your accountant, marketing, laundry, etc.
When you open a beauty salon on the hight street, one of the biggest issues is the floor space you have available. If moving into a shell of a shop, you will need to build treatment rooms. But, a key consideration with a beauty salon is that the size of rooms need to be quite big (square footage) compared to how much you can charge back.
Retail space is different, it’s products crammed on shelves. Even hair salons need less space per profit centre.
See the diagram below (bearing in mind I am not a salon designer and don’t have any experience with hair salon layout). It demonstrates that you can fit much more in a hair salon in terms of creating profit centres. Flip that around and the argument is that a hair salon simply needs a smaller building in comparison – smaller building = cheaper rent and rates.
So, there is a fine balance between how many rooms you need and how much each room can generate in terms of covering the overall running costs your salon business.
Another key thing I’ve learned from experience with salon properties is that the extra expense that comes with premium town centre positions does not equate to more business based on the concept of footfall. Higher rents also equals higher business rates and, in some cases, service charges, so why pay the premium if it doesn’t deliver the business?
A hair salon (or beauty salon) is a destination business. It’s service rather than retail, ie. people don’t go shopping for a beauty treatment, they tend to book in advance. So, you can attract most of your business at point of discovery – advertising, Internet, etc.
This makes choosing a property more interesting as you don’t need a town centre location, or indeed anywhere with too much footfall. This gives you a chance to control your building costs.
My ideal salon would be just outside of a town centre, with its own private car park.
Many towns have old larger housing that has been converted, the type that Dentists or small Accountants often use. As long as your salon is easy to find and has good access, this is a much more appealing property – for you and your clients.
You may have to apply for a licence to change the usage, but the cost savings of not paying a high street premium will inevitably lighten the load of your business costs.
Alternatively, many towns have smaller precincts and parades dotted around, usually with easy access and free parking and a convenience store that brings in its own footfall.
Just Stepped Out Of A Salon
The truth is, when many clients walk out of a hair salon, they look great. When the walk out of a beauty salon they don’t tend to. They may be in a sweatsuit after a fake tan, with a reddened face after a facial… waddling on fliop-flops after a pedicure. They just want to get to their car… quickly. All of these things matter when choosing your location.
Every salon is different and don’t take my word for it that I have found some magic formula. Just make sure you get the balance right between small and big. It’s hard enough to plan your business for next month, let alone the length some landlords will want from a lease so make sure you are comfortable with what you end up with… because you may well still be paying the rent in 5 or 10 years time, whether you still have a business or not.