The Ultimate Tools You Need to Start & Grow a Salon Business
I’m regularly asked about recommendations for different tools, services, and salon software to use when starting out or growing a salon business. This is why I’ve put together this list of resources I strongly recommend salon owners use.
My intent here is to bring you the best, most cost-effective, resources to help grow your salon business.
I’ve used all the recommendations on this page. In fact, many of the resources listed here have been crucial to running my business and for growing the business of many successful salons so I’m excited to share it with you.
Please note that the page contains special offer links and discount codes. If you decide to make a purchase using these links and offers, I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you).
Best Salon Software & Point of Sale Systems (POS)
Navigating all the different salon software solutions is a challenge for many salon owners. There are many different platforms out there and they all have their pros and cons. What’s right for you really depends on your business’s needs.
Below are the options I have had the best experience with and that I see most salon owners satisfied with.
VAGARO | The “All-in-One” Salon Software that Fit Most Small to Medium Size Salons (US, Canada, UK, Australia)
Vagaro is the most feature-rich salon software I’ve come across. It’s incredible how much they’ve been able to fit into this platform while still keeping pricing very affordable.
Here you get the simplicity of having everything under one roof without compromising on performance.
I firstly recommend Vagaro to salons with a team who have a high demand for marketing and business support but at the same time want to keep things simple.
You’ll get built-in payroll software, well-designed POS hardware, sophisticated marketing tools, advanced client data tracking, and integrations with other popular software (like Quickbooks).
Special offer: For a limited time you can get 2 months free when you sign up for a free Vagaro trial using the link above.
FRESHA | The 100% Subscription-Free Appointment Software (Available Worldwide)
Fresha is the only platform that is 100% subscription-free. This makes Fresha a good solution for you who are just starting out and want a platform that only costs something when it actually generates income (costs are only incurred when Fresha attracts new clients to your business and per booking – see my detailed review for details).
Despite being subscription-free, it offers very strong features and a clean, easy-to-use, interface.
It’s probably the fastest growing platform right now and is used by 50,000 beauty businesses, 250,000 Stylists in more than 120 Countries.
Note that Fresha was formerly known as Shedul.
MANGOMINT | The Smartest & Most Well-Designed Salon Software for Salons with 5+ Employees (US & Canada)
If you run a larger salon & spa (5+ staff) and are looking for a sophisticated platform that helps save you time in your day-to-day, look no further.
Mangomint is not only the most well-designed platform on this list but it also offers smart automations that cut down on time spent on managing appointments and business operations.
Mangomint delivers exceptionally well on all the core features that you would expect from a salon software (calendar scheduling, online booking, POS, inventory, reporting).
And if you are looking to go beyond the core features, Mangomint allows for integration with your favorite marketing and business systems.
This makes it an incredibly powerful and flexible solution and my first recommendation for bigger businesses.
Special offer: Get 2 months of Mangomint for free when you sign up for a free trial or book a demo using this link.
Get 2 months for free when signing up using the link above
GLOSS GENIUS | The Beautiful & Easy-to-Use Salon Software for Independent Professionals (USA Only)
Everything about GlossGenius is beautiful.
It’s the combinations of smart features, ease of use, and beautiful design that make this my recommended tool for you who want to create a beautiful online booking solution fast.
You can spin up a professional-looking website and start sending out email marketing campaigns using the standard templates in just a few minutes.
You may not have all the flexibility that some other tools offer but if you’re not tech-savvy and want something that “just works” and looks awesome, you’ll love GlossGenius.
You can even order a credit card reader that connects with your phone in a design that fits your brand.
SQUARE APPOINTMENTS | The Complete POS, Payment, and Appointment Software with Subscription-Free Plan for Individuals and Advanced Support for Large Salons (US, Canada, Australia)
Square Appointments is free for individuals and comes with a minimalistic design that is easy to use and packed with powerful functionality. It comes with all the features you need to manage your appointment book effectively and also has advanced support for SMS & email appointment notifications.
The biggest benefit of Square Appointments is that it is part of the Square family and therefore integrates seamlessly with other Square products (like POS system, credit card reader, website builder, and marketing suite).
This makes Square the most versatile and all-encompassing platform for most salon owners – from individuals to bigger businesses.
Special Offer Exclusively at The Salon Business: Get $2,000 free credit card processing when you sign up here.
Building a Professional Salon Website
Your salon’s website is in most cases also your salon’s first impression with new clients. So you want it to look stunning, be functional, and help you convert visitors into salon clients. Below are the services and tools I recommend to grow your salon business online with a professional website.
Square Online | Free, Easy-to-Use, Online Store Builder (Available in the US, Canada, UK, Australia)
Do you want to sell gift cards, service subscriptions, and retail products for pickup and/or delivery on your salon’s website?
Then Square Online is the answer.
Square is making it super easy to add an online store to your existing salon website or to build a full-blown website with an online store integrated.
Although Square Online was initially created to allow businesses to sell online, they do offer a super easy-to-use website builder which in fact allows you to create a full salon website (see my example website here).
The website builder that comes with Square Online is restricted to using its pre-defined blocks. This makes it incredibly easy to use but does not allow the same flexibility and precision to detail as you would get with other website builders.
I recommend Square Online to anyone who wants to add an online store to their salon business. And it’s certainly the go-to choice if you already use Square Appointments or the Square POS. or to those who just want to create a website in the easiest way available possible.
Get $1,000 free credit card processing fees when you sign up here.
Squarespace | Advanced, yet Beginner Friendly, Website Builder (Available Worldwide)
Do you want to create the most beautiful website possible for your salon?
Then you should give Squarespace a try.
This is for the perfectionist who is ready to spend a bit extra time to get the perfect website created.
99designs | Hire a Professional Website Designer (Available Worldwide)
Do you not want to spend the time creating your website yourself? Or you just want to hire a pro to ensure you get a top-notch result for your salon. Then 99designs is where you should turn.
Just follow their briefing guide to specify what it is that you want. You can then start a contest where you get several proposals back and you can pick the alternative you like most to move forward with.
Learn more about my recommended website builders for services businesses here.
Designing Your Salon Brand, Website, and Material
When you’re in the beauty business, all you do should be beautiful. Thankfully, you do not need to be a graphic designer yourself to create top-notch designs. Below are my recommended services and tools to make your salon appear as beautiful as it is.
CANVA | Create Beautiful Designs for FREE (Available Worldwide)
I’m a massive fan of Canva. I use it for everything design-related. It’s the tool all people that are serious about their social media uses to design beautiful images for their Instagram and Pinterest boards. You can also create your full visual brand identity in Canva and it comes with ready-made designs for business cards, logos, posters, social media, and much more.
I use their paid plan (at $9.95/month) as that gives me access to loads of royalty-free images to use in marketing material and on my website. It also enables some more advanced functionality. However, if you’re on a budget, you can also use their free version which is awesome too (even if you need to buy images elsewhere).
They offer a free 30-day trial so you should always sign up for the free trial first. You can then downgrade to a free plan after 30 days if you feel you don’t need all they offer.
99designs | Hire a Professional Designer (Available Worldwide)
99designs offer more than just websites. You can hire them for business card designs, logotype designs, or a complete brand identity pack.
Grow Your Salon Business with Effective Salon Marketing Tools
It doesn’t matter how good you are at performing services in your salon unless people know that you exist. The below tools help you step up your salon’s marketing game so that you attract and retain more clients.
Leverage Your Existing Salon Software First
Before you add complexity to your business with more tools, I recommend you maximize the features of your existing salon software. They often have built-in support for email marketing and other marketing features.
For example, Square users also get access to Square Marketing, Fresha users have built-in support for email marketing, and Vagaro has a very rich email & SMS marketing support inside the tool.
However, the built-in features naturally may not cover all your needs and you may want to investigate dedicated solutions for your needs.
I will list some of the specialized marketing tools I recommend below.
CONSTANT CONTACT | Email Marketing Service for Salons (Available Worldwide)
A salon newsletter is one of the most effective ways to stay in touch with your clients in between appointments. Constant Contact is designed specifically for local businesses, like your salon, and make managing your email marketing easy.
To learn more about email marketing for salons, you also recommend you check out my salon email marketing guide here.
TAP BIO | Convert Instagram Followers into Salon Clients with This Bio Link App
Have you noticed that Instagram only allows you to have one link in your bio? On top, you cannot include links in your salon’s Instagram posts. This makes the one link that you can have in your bio VERY important. This is the only place where you can turn your salon’s Instagram followers into salon clients by sending them to your salon’s website.
TapBio solves this problem for you and allow you to include and easily update multiple links. This way you can send your followers to all the different offers and pages to convert them into clients. TapBio is free and something all salon Instagram accounts should use.
For ideas on how you can step up your salon marketing game, I recommend you check out my list of salon marketing ideas here.
Cost Savings, Loans, and Salon Insurance: Helpful Tools when Starting a Salon
AMAZON BUSINESS | Get Better Prices on Salon Equipment & Accessories
You’ll most likely be purchasing a lot of items for your salon on Amazon. In fact, Amazon now even has a dedicated category for salon professional products.
By setting up a business account with Amazon, you get access to exclusive products and prices as well as other business dedicated services. This can save you both time and money. And best of all, it’s free!
ZEN BUSINESS | The Easy (and Cheap) Way to Form a New Salon Business
There’s a lot of paperwork that goes into forming a new business in the US.
ZenBusiness sets itself apart in the industry by offering our customers a fast and simple business formation service with the lowest prices and the best customer support available online.
They charge $49 for their service which saves you a lot of time and pain to ensure your business is set up in the right way from the start.
It’s challenging enough to open a salon. Let ZenBusiness take care of the business formation for you.
LIVE PLAN | Create a Salon Business Plan in No-Time
Having a good business plan is critical to being successful with a salon.
But it’s not easy to write one the first time.
LivePlan helps you create beautiful business plans. It provides helpful videos that guide you through the creation of every step of your plan. This ensures you leave with a perfect plan even if you’ve never done one before.
HISCOX | Insurance Provider for Salons
Good salon insurance is one of the essential expenses you’ll incur when you start a salon business. There’s just too much risk associated with not having adequate insurance.
Contact the insurance provider Hiscox for a free estimate if you don’t know what to expect in terms of costs. They are one of the most well-known insurance providers for salons. And, if you submit an online form with them, you will receive a precise cost estimate immediately.