As a stylist, you probably already know that you’ve generally got two options for how you plan to work: Working as a renter or a commission-based stylist.
There are definitely pros and cons to both approaches, which you should consider fully before diving headfirst into either option. That being said, for the right person, renting a chair or booth at an established salon makes the most sense, and can lead to a lot of business success.
Are you considering working as a renter? Not quite sure if it’s the right move for you? Below we take a look at what, exactly, it means to rent a booth or chair at a salon, discuss the pros and cons you should be aware of, and offer some tips you can use to set yourself up for success as a renter.
What does it mean to rent a booth or chair in a salon?
When you rent a chair or a booth at a salon, you’re essentially forming an agreement with a salon owner that’s similar to the agreement between a landlord and tenant. Only instead of renting an apartment, you’re renting space in the salon. By paying an agreed-upon fee on a weekly or monthly basis, you are able to essentially conduct business in the salon.
In many ways, this is a lot like running a business within a business. When you rent a chair in a salon, you get to keep all of the profits that come with serving your clients (aside from however much rent you pay). But you’re also responsible for finding your own clients, managing your own schedule, and buying your own tools and supplies.
The key difference between chair rental and commission-based employment really comes down to responsibility. If you rent, you’re responsible for:
- Paying rent to the salon owner
- Providing your own color, product, retail, and tools
- Running your own booking and payment systems
- Managing your own finances and taxes
- Implementing your own marketing strategy
If you work in commission, on the other hand you’re typically only responsible for physically being in the salon (and working) when you’re scheduled to do so. The salon owner will normally take care of the things listed above, because you’re an employee of their business.
Pros and Cons of Renting a Booth or Chair in a Salon
There are a lot of reasons that some stylists love renting. Those benefits include things like:
- Having total control over your own schedule and when you work
- Having control over your rates, fees, and the services offered
- The opportunity to be your own boss
- Less startup cost compared to opening your own salon
A big benefit that most renters find freedom in is being able to make your own work schedule. As long as you are able to pay your rent, you can dictate how many clients you see, when you see them, and how much to charge them. It is solely up to you how much income you want to make, because you’re not technically working for anyone other than yourself.
That being said, you are still running your own business within someone else’s business. This means that if your culture or values or management style are significantly different from the salon owner’s, it can cause some issues. If your cultures do not mesh well, it can turn into a problem very quickly. As a renter, you are always juggling the fine line of being your own boss but also respecting the salon owners space and culture.
Salon Booth Rental Tips
1. Find a salon that matches your values.
As a renter, one of the worst things you can do is “settle” by agreeing to rent from a salon that you don’t agree with on a personal level. If you have different core values and beliefs from your host salon, it's bound to come through in confrontation and tension eventually. Instead, do your best to find a host salon that shares the kind of salon culture that you can get behind, and do your part to embrace it as well.
2. Do your homework when pricing your services.
When you sit down to price your services, you can’t just pick an arbitrary number that sounds good on paper. You need to make sure that your prices take into account your overhead: Particularly, your rent. By factoring this into your prices and by understanding how much profit you need each month, you can estimate how many sessions you need to book each month to hit your goals.
3. Be respectful to your host salon.
Even though as a renter you technically work for yourself, that doesn’t mean that you have a blank check to be a jerk. You should still do your best to be respectful to the business in which you run your business.
Do your best to accommodate the salon owner and other stylists/staff, so long as they aren’t asking you to do something that you specifically disagree with on a personal level. Maintaining the peace can go really far.
4. Embrace social media marketing.
As a renter, you’re entirely responsible for filling your chair and booking your own appointments; no one else is going to do this for you. That means that you will need to get comfortable marketing yourself as a business. Creating a social media marketing strategy is a great place to start, especially if you don't have a huge budget to work with.
5. Strengthen your organizational skills.
Working as a renter requires significant organizational skills, because you’re responsible for managing everything on your own. This means that you need to get good at managing your retail, your tools, your schedule—everything.
6. Develop strong company policies for yourself.
One of the perks of working as an employee at a salon is that the owner is typically responsible for putting in place policies (such as a cancellation policy) that protects the time of their employees.
As a renter you’re responsible for setting your own policies. While it’s easy to overlook, it’s incredibly important to do so.
7. Thoroughly read your rental contract before signing.
Your rental contract is a binding legal agreement. Like any other legal agreement, you need to make sure you read your rental contract thoroughly and understand all of the provisions it covers—before you sign it. The last thing you want is to get into a disagreement with your host salon and then discover that a clause or provision in your contract backs up their case over yours.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to negotiate terms. If the salon owner really wants you as a member of their team, they might just be willing to adjust their terms for you.
8. Consider hiring a financial planner or accountant.
Renting a chair is a lot like running your own business—because it essentially is! This means you need to get comfortable dealing with numbers really fast in order to be successful over the long term.
If you’ve got extra money in your budget, though, hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to handle your finances can also be a great alternative that lets you focus on your passion: Hair!
9. Don’t forget to continue learning and developing your skills.
Another perk that often comes with working as an employee at a salon is the fact that owners will often pay for ongoing training and development for their stylists, because that means the stylists are more qualified and the salon can justify charging higher fees for services. Unfortunately, working as a renter means you’re responsible for your own development.
That doesn’t mean you should skimp on it, though! Attending a workshop or signing up for a tutorial can be a great way of building new skills that could completely change your career.
Want to learn more tips to help you change your relationship with money and realize your worth? Sign up for the Magic of Money Making course with Jamie Sea to learn everything you need to succeed financially!