I had lunch last week with two friends who both opened up their own salons last year.
They’re both very talented and business-minded hairdressers with good experience in the industry. One of the salons has been doing extraordinarily well while the other is still struggling to fill their books and get to good profit. They both seem to be doing everything right but there’s one thing that makes those two salons very different.
The hair salon’s locations.
After our meeting, it became obvious how crucial choosing the best salon location is to success. But what are the best locations for hair salons? And how do you choose where to locate your salon?
I decided to find out.
How to Choose a Salon Location?
There are 21 factors you should consider when choosing the location of your salon:
- Are there any specific costs or taxes in the location of your salon?
- What are the local demographics like? What’s the disposable income of people in the area?
- Is the community seasonal in the area or stable all year?
- Is the city good at promoting local businesses?
- Is the area safe and lit up at night?
- Does the area fit with the image of your salon?
- How many competitor salons are there in the area?
- Is there adequate parking space in the area?
- Is the area served by public transport?
- How many people walk or drive by the salon address?
- Will you have other businesses as neighbours? And will they attract a relevant audience?
- How convenient is it for suppliers to make deliveries to the salon?
- Is the lease agreement competitive?
- Have you considered to total cost of the salon (and not just the rent)?
- Is the facility large enough for your salon?
- Does the facility meet your salon layout requirements?
- Will you have access to a basement or storage?
- Is the building in need of repairs?
- How visible will your salon be? Will your salon sign be visible?
- Are there any rules, policies, or procedures that’ll limit what you can do in the salon?
- How convenient is it for you personally to commute and work at the salon location?
When you consider how to choose a salon location, there are important factors to consider for the city/community (point 1-4), the area surrounding the salon (point 5-9), as well as the specific salon location/facility (point 10-21). I’ll now dive deeper into each aspect of picking a salon location.
Choosing the City Location for a Salon
If this is the first salon you’re starting, it’ll most likely be in a city you know like where you live. But maybe you’re looking to expand your salon chain footprint into another city. If so, there are some important factors you need to take into account when picking your salon location.
1. Are there any specific costs or taxes in the location of your salon?
Make sure you understand what the tax policies are in the city where you’re looking to open your salon. There could also be other costs associated with starting a business in a new city. The Chamber of Commerce could be a good place to start to understand what those costs may be.
2. What are the local demographics like?
The demographics of people in your new location may influence the feasibility of you opening a salon there. The average income, for example, can be a determining factor if you’ll be able to keep the prices that you would like in the new location.
Demographics may however be much more local than on a city level so it’s even more important to consider the demographics of the specific area where your new salon will be located.
3. Is the community seasonal in the area or stable all year?
It may be tempting to open a salon in a city that is bustling with people during summertime. Or potentially at a hip ski resort that is packed with people with a high income during the skiing season.
But this is almost always a bad idea. Sure, there are exceptions to this, but generally, you’re better off locating your salon in an area where there will be people all year round and where you can run a more stable salon business.
4. Is the city good at promoting local businesses?
Some cities are incentivized to grow the number of small businesses. This could bring you benefits that’ll help you get a better start than if you’re starting in a city where the interest to support entrepreneurs is lower.
How to Choose an Area for a Salon
So you know in what city you’ll open your salon. That’s a good start.
But the area you’ll pick for your salon can make all the difference. Here’s what you need to consider when picking the area to start your salon in.
5. Is the area safe and lit up at night?
You don’t want to spend time worrying about break-ins or sabotage of your salon. You also want the salon location to be a safe place for you and your staff to commute to.
6. Does the area fit with the image of your salon?
Where your salon is located says a lot about what type of salon it is. So you want to make sure the image of the area rimes with the image you want your salon to have.
7. How many competitor salons are there in the area?
It goes without saying that the more competition you have, the tougher it will be to be successful.
Research your competition in the area where you want to open your salon so that the number of salons is not too dense in comparison to the number of inhabitants there.
But many salons does not necessarily mean that it’s a bad idea to start there. It could also be an indication that the demand is high.
You should also consider the type of salon you want to start and if there are other salons operating in the same niche as you in the area.
8. Is there adequate parking space in the area?
It needs to be convenient for your salon clients to visit you. Not having good parking space can be a killer for your salon. You know how many chairs you have in the salon, is there enough parking space to cater for a fully booked salon?
9. Is the area served by public transport?
Like with parking space, easy access to public transport makes it easy for your staff and clients to reach you. Also, this increases the chances that people will book with you even if they don’t live in the area themselves.
How to Choose Salon Facility
You’ve come far.
You know the city and area where you want to locate the salon. It’s time to start viewing specific salon locations – exciting!
But this is also the most crucial part. You’ll for sure have some make-it-or-break-it factors when choosing your salon facility.
10. How many people walk or drive by the salon address?
Having good traffic outside your salon is crucial. A good salon location that is visible to many people, is like free marketing. In fact, if your salon is based in an area with few people and poor traffic, you’ll need to be prepared to invest more in the marketing of your salon.
If you’ve found a salon location you like, I’d suggest you take an afternoon nearby the salon and count how many people that walk past the location.
11. Will you have other businesses as neighbours? And will they attract relevant salon customers?
When you go and look at the salon location, remember to also check out who it is that you have next to you.
A competing salon can mean trouble. But a trendy cafe or fashion store that has the same type of customers as you can be great for your business.
This can open up opportunities to collaborate and they will also help attract new clients to your salon.
12. How convenient is it for suppliers to make deliveries to the salon?
You’ll likely have different product supply deliveries to your salon every week. This may seem like a small thing but if it’s not easy for people to deliver to your salon, you may find yourself spending a lot of time on the phone trying to coordinate deliveries and carry heavy boxes upstairs.
This will be painful in the long run and something you should try to avoid if you can.
13. Is the lease agreement competitive?
Rent is the biggest cost for salons after wages. It will hit you every month and always eat up your salon profit. Naturally, you want to keep this as low as possible.
And it’s now you have the chance to negotiate it.
As soon as you’ve agreed on the rent, it’ll be very difficult to change it. So you want to make sure you land on an affordable rent from start. When negotiating, you can use this list of salon location criteria. The location you’re looking at will most likely not conform to all points so you can use some of them as reasons to why you think you deserve a lower rent.
14. Have you considered to total cost of the salon (and not just the rent)?
When you create your budget for opening a salon, you should not only take the rent into account but the complete cost of the location. How much are utilities? What insurance do you need? How much reparation work is needed? Do you need to pay for security? Are there fees for shared facilities?
There could be hidden fees that are not immediately obvious so make sure you bring the total cost picture on the table before you sign the lease.
15. Is the facility large enough for your salon?
Have your future business plan in place when you pick a location. The size may be enough now but what in six months when you’ve built your salon clientele? To give you an idea of the room sizes you’ll need, you can read my guide to salon sizing here.
Moving location can be costly and cumbersome. So if you can afford it, try to build for the future from start.
16. Does the facility meet your salon layout requirements?
When you’re looking at a salon location option, try to design the salon layout so that you see how it all comes together and that it fits. You can move furniture around later but not the walls in the building (very easily at least). So you want to ensure that you have some layout designs that’ll work before you sign the lease.
17. Will you have access to a basement or storage?
You want your salon space to be clean. But to enable that, you’ll need room for storage. You’ll need to fit storage into your salon layout for the items you use regularly. But a separate storage room will be very valuable for you.
18. Is the building in need of repairs?
If the building is old, you need to watch out for upcoming repairs. This can be costly to you and something you’ll need to budget for upfront (and include in your salon lease negotiation).
19. How visible will your salon be? Will your salon sign be visible?
Your salon location is also one of your most powerful marketing tools. If the salon is clearly visible to people walking by, you’ll attract new salon clients for free.
However, there can be restrictions when it comes to what you’re allowed to do that is visible outside your salon. Investigate this upfront to avoid negative surprises.
20. Are there any rules, policies, or procedures that’ll limit what you can do in the salon?
You need to make sure you’re actually allowed to run a salon in the facility. Your landlord may be excited to get a full-service salon in the building, but he/she is probably not the deciding person if you’re actually allowed to do what you intend to do.
If you’re starting a nail salon and are storing fire-sensitive supplies, you may need to get approval for that. For a hair salon, you’ll need accessible water which needs approval.
Be sure to understand all the regulations and policies for the facility upfront to avoid negative surprises when you’ve already signed the lease. The local city hall should be able to help you with this and they should all have a website with contact details (like the LA example here).
21. How convenient is it for you personally to commute and work at the salon location?
Finally, don’t forget that you’ll be commuting every day to the salon yourself. Make sure the location fits your private life so that you have easy access to the things that are important to you.
Location, location, location.
These are the three most important things when you’re starting a salon.
There are many things to consider when choosing a salon location.
Some factors will be deal-breakers for you. The other will be things that will influence the performance of your business but that you may be able to compromise on.
If you do the 21 items on the list, you should be in a good place.
I hope this article has helped you with how to choose a salon location.