By Ashley Smith SALT's Administrative Manager + Business Coach
Do you have a dream of one day opening a salon of your own? You’re in good company—it’s a common aspiration for many in the hair industry!
Opening your own salon can be incredibly rewarding. Because you’re in control, you get to decide all of the factors which previously had been determined by others: What your salon culture looks like, your salon retail strategy, the customer experience, etc.
While those are some of the fun parts to think about, the truth is that opening a salon is hard work. It’s totally reachable, but you need to be willing to put in the up front investment of time, energy, and strategy if you’re going to reap those rewards.
One of the most important considerations of opening a salon? Choosing a location that will allow your business to thrive. Below we walk through the most important factors that you should be considering so that you can choose the perfect location for your salon.
7 Considerations for Choosing the Perfect Salon Location
When evaluating different locations for your salon, visibility is going to be a major consideration. How visible do you want your salon to be? Should it, for example, be visible from the road, or do you want it tucked away?
While you might be tempted to say that increased visibility is always a good thing, the truth is that that may not be the case. How visible your salon is should be based on things like:
- The type of client experience that you wish to provide: Does your ideal client value privacy? If so, a more secluded location can be beneficial. Having a space that’s a little more tucked away will give you that exclusive experience you are looking to create.
- The types of services you offer: If all of your services are labor intensive, then your business will probably be better served by embracing a by-appointment model. Selecting a location that is not on a busy road can keep the number of walk-ins inquiring about same-day treatments down.
- Your marketing model: If you do not have a large following and opt to rely on foot traffic for a significant portion of your business, then more visibility is probably a better bet for you.
When we talk about accessibility, we aren’t talking about ensuring that your business is handicap accessible. (After all, that’s the law—you need to be doing that anyway!) What we are actually referring to is taking the time to understand how your ideal clients are coming to you, and ensuring that your business is accessible via those routes.
For example, do your clients travel from out of state to see you? If so, from which states do they most typically travel from? Find a map, and plot out their course. When selecting a space, choose one that is somewhat close to all of the major highways that the person may be taking.
On the other hand, if your clientele will mostly be local or in-state, you might not worry so much about interstate highways but place more importance on other major roadways.
3. Surrounding Businesses
Also important to the success of your business will be the mix of businesses surrounding it. Why? Because the businesses around your salon can help or hinder foot traffic, depending on whether they attract or repel customers.
Determine what you want your customer’s experience to be, and then find a space that resembles that. For example, if you are looking to offer a more exclusive, unique experience then you might like a location that is more tucked away and surrounded by quaint coffee shops and boutique-like stores. On the other hand, if you are looking for a space that solely relies on foot traffic, then finding a location that is surrounded by common shopping centers like a strip mall might be a better fit.
Whatever the case, you probably want to avoid overly industrial spaces. Nobody wants to get their hair cut next to a meat packing plant!
4. Location-Specific Regulations
Each city, county, and region has its own unique regulations that can impact business owners like you. Because it’s important to know what these regulations might look like and what the community is that you will be joining, we recommend that you go to the town hall or health department to find out what some limitations might be for that specific space.
For example, you may want to hang a custom sign outside of your salon, or add some custom elements to the street-facing portion of your space which will attract your clientele. If your desired additions are not allowed due to your jurisdiction, you may need to find space elsewhere.
Similarly, if you are renting or leasing space instead of purchasing it outright, the actual owner of the commercial space may have their own restrictions on top of the local ones.
5. Proximity to Competitors
It’s important to take note of how many other salons there are in your area, but it’s not something that you should get too hung up on.
You want to understand the services that they are offering, and the prices they charge, but those factors shouldn't dictate how you run your business. Stand true to what you believe in and envision for your business. That is going to carry more weight in your success than trying to beat out your competitors.
6. Size of the Space
This can be a bit of a balancing act. On the one hand, you want a space that is small enough that you can comfortably afford it. On the other, you want a space that empowers you to create the atmosphere that you’ve envisioned, while also providing you with the space to grow when the time comes. (And it will probably come sooner than you think!)
We typically suggest figuring out your finances and your vision for the business, and then selecting a space based off of those ideas.
Especially if your goal is to have multiple employees, offer all kinds of services, and expand rapidly, then going with a bigger space initially might make more sense, even if it is more expensive those first few months. The last thing you want is to really settle into a space and then outgrow it within 6 months to a year.
7. Cost of the Space
Of course, cost is another major factor that you need to consider.
Once you have found an area that you like, check the cost of different spaces in the area and compare those to what is being offered to you. That way, you’ll know if you’re getting a good deal or if you are being taken advantage of.
If you know the space is where you want to stay for a long time and have a great vision for the space, it’s okay to negotiate (within reason). In fact, we encourage you to do so! The worst they can say is no, and then you make the decision whether that was a dealbreaker for you.
Taking Major Steps Towards Your Dreams
Do you think that owning a salon is the right move for you? The best thing you can do now is to make sure you’re prepared before diving in with both feet. Education is the single best way to figure out what you don’t know and what you need to learn.
We recommend the Salon Business Bundle, which will teach you everything you need to know about creating a salon culture that fits your vision, how to conduct a pre-screening consultation, how to create a cancelation policy, and more. As you get closer to launching your business, enrolling in our Salon Consulting Program can be a great way of spotting any weaknesses in your plan to resolve them before launch.
Download our Salon Location Tip Sheet for free advice on selecting your salon space!