Lessons Learned from Opening 2 Salons

Links referenced in the video

Are you planning to open a hair salon, barbershop, beauty salon, or spa business?

Then you should watch this video where we’re sharing the exact steps to start a salon business.

My will take you through her journey building two highly successful hair salons. You’ll learn about the total costs for opening a salon, how to recruit salon staff, how to decorate and design your salon, how to find a salon location, and much more.

I know that many viewers on this channel are just in the process of opening a salon and starting their salon for the first time, which is a huge deal.

There’s a lot of things that go into opening your salon, so I have My here who runs two wildly successful salons, so I thought I would pick her brain on her story and how she created her business.

Because I think there’s a lot of things in there that you can learn if you’re now in the process of starting your own business, and this is where we share the best ideas and strategies to help you start and grow your salon business.

Why My decided to start a salon business

John: Why did you open your salon in the first place?

My: I’ve always been interested in building a team and being my own boss or my own entrepreneur, and I also think that I had also worked quite long as a hairdresser and feel like I was a bit stuck. How will I move forward, what do I want to do next, how can I build my own bubble inside the hairdresser profession.

Renting a chair/booth

John: Were you employed at that time, or were you renting a chair?

My: At that time, I was renting it. Yeah, so I had already taken a step towards being my boss, but actually, I wouldn’t say I liked that much to be alone.

I always like to be in a team, so renting a chair or booth didn’t suit me that well. I was coming in doing their customers and then going home, so you don’t get that team feeling.

Rental chairs vs. salon employees

That’s why today I have employees. I don’t have anyone who rents a chair at my salons because I want to have that team feeling while working for the same goal.

What salon owners do, and is building your own salon right for you?

So for people who are thinking about starting a salon business, the first thing you have to ask yourself is: 

  • Would I love to be an entrepreneur? 
  • Do I want to build a company?

Because when you start the salon or have employees, a lot of your time is not going to be only about being a hairdresser anymore. It’s going to be building a team working with people doing a lot of other stuff that is not hairdressing.

So I think you have to think that through. Do I want to love my profession that much that I want to develop within hairdressing and have a big salon?

With the hairdressing, you will not be able to do that much of that bit.

So I think that is a big question that you have to ask yourself: is this the right way for me, or should I just maybe get involved more with the brand or if the hairdressing is the part that you want to engage more in.

John: Yeah, now I think that’s a great point because it’s not an easy path to walk, it’s going to be challenging, and if you don’t like to do that if that’s not the way you want to work in the future.

Expenses when opening a salon, and how much do you need to make?

My: Yeah, so what I started with as I rented a share. I set the goal for myself as I counted how much it would cost for me per month to have one employee, paying the rent and the taxes, and everything for the salon to go around.

Then I started to work towards that amount like I had 13 000 a month or 15 around hundred twenty thousand Swedish crowns as a goal.

If I reach that, I know that I have enough customers to make the salon go around.

The next one is the financial part and making sure that you have a clientele and you know you can pull off the cost that will be required.

When I reached that goal, I knew I had that number of clients to take with me into the new salon and knew that it would be running okay.

Then I started to look for somewhere to be. What type of clients do I want? How do I want my opening hours to be?

So I had a vision that I wanted to be in the city. I wanted to be close to where people work because I’m not particularly eager to work on the weekends, and my clients aren’t at work on the weekends. They’re at home so they won’t be close to my salon then.

How to choose an area and location for your salon?

So I mapped out different areas in the city that had a lot of offices. Because today people can flex a bit more if they work in an office space, maybe they can stretch their lunch, and we always have a good wi-fi at the salon so they can also work at the salon, so we don’t have to work as much on uncomfortable hours.  

John: Yeah, and I love how you describe when choosing your location and going into starting a salon and how you describe the life you want to live.

Also, how that influences where your salon should be located, which I think is a critical point. 

Maybe you’re finding a location and looking at the prices and all that, but it’s about making sure you create the life that you want for yourself. I love how you have that as a guiding story.

My: I think every decision you will make in the beginning shouldn’t be taken lightly. Think about it, because it will affect some other things you won’t be able to change later. You won’t be able to change where your salon is located.

What clients do you want to attract to your salon? Defining your brand

  • Ask yourself what type of clients do I want?
  • What type of life do I want?
  • What do I want out of this business that I’m starting?

In the beginning, you’re very high on the idea of starting a salon, so you’re accepting much more than you maybe will, in the end, so I think it’s it’s essential to go step by step.

Do I want this type of job? That was the first thing. Then it was about costs and making sure you have a clientele that would carry the costs of running your salon.

Then finding the place and the location and as part of that also working on your brand from the start, and making sure and you have that in place so with all that what would be the next thing because there’s still a way to go until you can open the doors.

How to find a salon venue/location: Buy/rent existing salon vs. remodeling/building a salon from scratch

Then you start to look for a location. I think for you in the US. It will be much more beneficial if you choose one that’s already selling because, with your permits and stuff, it will be costly for you to change the venue to another type of venue because you were planning to open a salon.

So naturally, this will be different in every country. I know we have a lot of people from the US on this channel but really from everywhere in the world, so certainly when it comes to permits and licenses and so on, I think it will be much more beneficial if you find some venue that’s already a salon.

Remodeling a salon, salon decor, electricity, plumbing, etc.

Then you can just change the interior. Change the shampoo area and buy new chairs, paint the floor. I mean, you can do a lot with that, yeah, so I think that will be much easier.

My first venue was a flower shop, so I had to do everything, and it was pretty costly to do all the plumbing and the electricity and everything that needed to be done for it to be a salon.

How to build a salon team and keeping salon staff motivated

John: Today, you have a pretty large group. How many stylists do you have now?

My: 13 stylists on two locations.

John: Okay, so I’m just picking your brain because I know this is gold for many people out there who are in this process right now.

That is the impression I’m getting talking with you that the life you live today and how you have set up your business is like how you wanted this to be. I have the feeling that you’re pleased with the setup.

I also decided from the beginning that I would let my employees shine, and I would stand in the background.

I’ve seen many in my family that had their own business that became their prison. So for me, it was important that my business could run even if I were not there.

So I don’t make myself the center of the business. A lot of people don’t even know that it’s me that own the salons.

Also, I think it’s good for the team that they feel that it is also their salon. They don’t work for me. They work for the salon.

Being able to take time off and that you’re not locked into having to be there right now.

John: It’s nice to have a vacation – it doesn’t stand and fall with you although you will be the running motor. The salon will be able to run without you for a month or two months and have engagement from your employees.

My: The staff also see it as their company, so they will also give as much. I think that I had a goal from the beginning that I will make my employees very involved in the company.

It can involve simple things like where we should have our wastebasket. I mean it’s better for them who work much more than me to decide that.

And you know it sounds like small things but if you work every day and every day you have to go two meters on to the wrong side, stuff like that you will get irritated by those small things. So I think it’s essential when you build a team. Make the team a part of the company.

John: Absolutely, and you’re doing a great job when it comes to that. We have another video on how to build a motivated team.

So to recap what we’ve learned so far:

  • Do I want to do this?
  • What type of salon do I want?
  • What kind of clients do I want?
  • Choose an area or location.
  • Choose a venue that’s already a salon.

It will be much easier for you to renovate and decorate that after what you like or what type of vision you have.

Plan your opening event and create buzz

My: I already started my website, Instagram account, and Facebook page before I opened it.

Yeah, so I took pictures of the renovation, and even though in the beginning maybe it was most of my family following this, I also had some of my clients that were already with me.

I put a big sign on the window that Peach Stockholm will soon be opening here so you create a bit of a buzz. 

So I worked with my clients at the same time as I was renovating. It also gave me much more financial benefit because it was just not output, some inputs, so I could just jump over to the opening.

How to recruit stylists and finding talented salon staff

My: I worked for one month alone in the salon before I had my first employee.

John: How did you go about that? That’s also a big challenge right to find good talented people.

My: Yeah, especially when you’re new. I posted on Instagram and a job board, so I had an ad on there where I was talking about my idea. I wanted to do a new salon they could also link to where they could go in and see where we were building and renovating.

How to interview and hire salon staff and stylists

It was crucial with the personality that they liked my idea and wanted to work in a place like this.

I think being service-minded is something that you either have or you don’t. The rest you can always learn.

Sure some qualities are difficult to learn. So when recruiting, focus on those so the other things you can learn on the job.

And also, it was important that they really liked the idea and the atmosphere of the salon, that they were getting just as excited as me. Because when you’re so small, you need it to be able just to run and get that, can you be able to do other things than just no I’m employed to cut hair? When you’re a small business, it doesn’t work like that. It would help if you had someone who would do all those other things with you as well.

Setting up your salon website, Instagram, online booking, and appointment scheduling

John: And then you opened the second salon?

My: Yeah, right after three years, I opened the second one. Because then we were fully booked.

We began with our web page and our Facebook already before we opened my first salon. Our goal from the beginning was to be like a web-based salon because I’ve seen in other markets that they are much more on the web.

This was 13 years ago, so many salons did not have online booking; they didn’t have a home page. So we were pretty alone in this or not alone, but there were not so many of their hairdressers or hair salons that were online, so that was our kind of our thing that we positioned us online.

John: Yeah, and we do have a video where we’re breaking down precisely what My is doing online as well so you can hear more about the strategies that enable you to fill your books.

So after three years, we were slammed with customers, they were just four shares, and we had a lot to do, so naturally, the next step would be to open another salon because we cannot take in more customers, and now you’re slammed again.

How to get new salon clients?

My: And this is all through the web. There are also mouth-to-mouth recommendations and so on. But I would say 80 percent of our new customers are from our online web page and Instagram account.

John: If you follow My on this channel, you’ll know that we focus on online marketing and get clients online using the same strategies that My is using. So you’ll find a bunch of different videos here on The Salon Business channel. There’s also a free guide available.

How much does it cost to open a hair salon?

John: I want to talk about the costs. Because in the end, like if you’re just starting, that’s a crucial element and probably something stressing you quite a bit.

You were talking about building up the clientele to make sure you would have the financials to support you when you were opening. But how much did it cost for you to open your salon?

My: Yeah, the first salon I think we paid around 350 000 Swedish crowns for their contract, so that’s roughly 40 000 US dollars, but then it was just a flower shop, and it was two floors, so the down floor was just a basement.

Hair salon equipment list and cost

My: The shampoo chairs are quite expensive. They cost around three thousand dollars. So we had two of those and then the chairs, so I think maybe the total cost was 120 000 dollars. The costs for opening a salon will be very different depending on where you are based.

I also think in Sweden, maybe it’s also a bit more expensive with contractors than in the US. But it’s still beneficial to hear some of your reasoning behind the costs, and obviously, there are many different models from renting to buying the business.

If you’re in the process of opening a salon, what you would need to do is to break down your assumptions and try to get as good a picture as possible of what the cost be for you to do that and if you want to build a plan like like you also did with happy clientele and when will I break even.

Salon renovation and decoration costs

With the second salon, I took the venue over from the building, so I didn’t buy the contract there because the one that had it before had gone bankrupt.

Okay, so I could just take it over, so I didn’t pay anything, but instead, this was even worse than the first one in terms of renovation.

It was also a lot bigger. I think the first one is around 70 to 80 square meters in total, and this is 170 square meters, so the second one was much bigger.

I think I put one and a half million Swedish crowns ($170 000)  into just renovating it. But it’s a one-time expense, and then you had a salon running.

I also had saved a lot of money in the company during those three years. We had a lot to do, and we were slammed, so when you have a lot of customers flowing in and working at the same time, you will always have new money coming in.

I think that it is also essential to see that when you do put a lot of time in the website and ads and being easy to find on google all of that stuff it will also make that you also always have customers so you will always have a cash flow and that is important.

Because the more clients you have that book appointments, the more clients you have that want to book a time because they go in and say; oh my god, they just have two times less, I have to book.

But if you go in and there’s a lot of times left, it’s like, oh okay, I can book tomorrow. Yeah, they have a lot of time, so I think that’s the momentum it’s vital to keep.


John: I’ve been picking your brain a lot here, and I hope you’re finding this helpful. This is why we’re here with the salon business and why this exists to help you if you’re just starting out or if you have a salon running and you want to grow and accelerate. That’s why The Salon Business exists.

Do you have a final important message or word that you want the person here who is about to go on this big adventure of starting a salon business? What would be one important takeaway?

My: I think just go for it if you want to do it.

It’s not as hard as it seems to be. If it’s something you’re passionate about, if it’s something that you like, it will be easy.

So that’s what I said. In the beginning, it’s so important to know do I want to do this.

Because if this is something that you’re passionate about or want to do, it will be easy for you to do.

You will easily put in that extra hours. It will be your new hobby too. I mean, I love my work. I never have a boring day at my work. I love getting up every day and going to my salon. I love my employees. They’re my family, so I think if you have that passion, it will never be a hard day.

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