So you think you can open a salon? So you’ve got the experience and the desire to share it? Well, do it!! You open that salon! It can be terrifying heading into the business world on your own, and opening a salon in the UK can involve so many legal and business issues like licensing, insurance and tax.But all of these scary things will be conquered with a little bit of planning and some reliable resources. Build a business plan for yourself using gov.uk and for banks and investors. Figure out how you’re going to finance your venture, and be prepared for it to cost more time and money than you initially think. Research licences and insurance that you’ll need https://www.gov.uk/licence-finder. Consider what niche you’re going to serve using your experience and the experience of your staff.
Got all the plans in your head? Great! (Phew you’re determined! Look at you go!) So let’s take a look at how to open a salon in the UK and get you on your way to a brilliant, booming business.
Find your premises.
When opening a salon anywhere in the world, your location is everything. No matter whether you think you’re going to stay in your property forever or if you hope to expand some day down the line, your initial place will make or break your salon’s potential. When finding your place, consider things like the demographics of the area and the niche you’re planning on serving. Consider planning permission and licensing, particularly if your potential property will need many alterations to serve as a salon. Choose a property that is convenient for your customers as opposed to yourself, convenient for potential and existing staff, and feasible as a salon, both cost- and property-wise.
Once you’ve chosen your property, register with the local council as soon as possible to ensure that the place may be a hair salon. If your salon will only be providing hair services, you will probably need only one licence. However, should you wish to add additional beauty services later, you will more than likely need multiple licences. Licensing can be a drag, we know, but don’t let it scare you off. All of these little steps are a lot easier to handle with good planning (remember when you researched all those licences you’d need?) Get in touch with the local council and find out what sort of licensing you will need; it will vary largely by location. You might need to consider getting parking sorted for your customers, and if you’re going to relax your clients with the sounds of the ocean or some RnB classics, be aware that you will need a licence to play recorded sounds in public from Phonographic Performance, Ltd .
Build your place.
You’ve got the place, you’ve made the investment plunge! Time to kit out your impending salon as the real thing. But your pain with licensing isn’t over yet. (You’re building a business. The legal stuff is probably never going to end. *sigh*). If you have to involved renovations to get your place suited for a salon, be sure to consult an architect as well as your local council before breaking any walls. If you’re just fitting out the already-perfect place, you’ve got a lot of Health and Safety concerns before you.
Well, a building on its own isn’t going to do you much good, so it’s time to start fitting out your space, salon-style. Be prepared for this, like everything in this post, to take much longer than you anticipate. Shop around. Don’t settle, and try not to be sold by aggressive advertising. Instead, head to trade fairs for products and equipment to find the best deals you can. Network to seek sponsored products – by featuring one brand of equipment or product, you might be able to stock for a discount. Second hand equipment may be an option, but be careful, particularly where hygiene and electronics are concerned.
With everything in the fitting out process, be very careful about Health and Safety. As a public business, you have a responsibility to make your space as pleasant and safe for your clients and staff as possible. Make a list of potential hazards posed, both by structural issues as well as equipment and products like hairspray. Compose a risk assessment and reference it constantly. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Essentials helps salons and spas comply with safety laws, so consult them well to comply. Even things like sinks can be hazardous for clients because of the risk of bacteria. The Health and Safety Executive breaks down some risks faced by salons and also offers a sample risk assessment for your reference.
Open your place.
And staff it. Maybe you’ve a brilliant amount of salon and beauty credentials under your belt yourself; maybe you’re just a business-wizard with management experience. Either way, you will probably be needing a few extra hands in your shop, so it’s time to start staffing. For hopefully fairly obvious safety and business reasons, you will need well-qualified staff. In terms of employment and insurance, most of the UK requires staff be qualified to at least level NVQ 2 or 3. Standards for qualification for the UK are set by Habia, so check their website to ensure your potential employees have the right certifications. But you might want to hire even more qualified staff. Consider the benefits of hiring staff with less experience – in house training, molding their green practices to your epic beauty visions – as well as those with more experience – throw business responsibilities on their strong shoulders, make up for experience you might lack. In all seriousness, however, your salon staff are the face of the place, so ensure everyone’s got their qualifications and works well together.
Once you’ve got everything set up, you’re ready for your big opening! After such a huge investment of time and money, it’s going to be hard to do, but try to relax. Be prepared for a slow-build up of business. You won’t take off overnight. You might not even take off over a year. And you won’t be making money for that time or longer. But if you’ve invested your time and money wisely – which we know you have!! – you’ll be a booming business sooner than you think!
Get your salon noticed.
Now that your salon is open (congratulations by the way), how are you going to get people to come into the door. Some signage outside and in the shop window will be quite useful. Use of relevant listings databases like yell and noscrunchie as well as use of social media should help you to get noticed online as well.
If you want more information on the marketing side of things, read our blog next week for tips on how to get that started.
A few extra resources:
Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (Habia) www.habia.org
Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) www.qca.org.uk
Beauty Serve http://www.beautyserve.com