Think you have what it takes to be a salon owner in 2017? Be prepared for these challenges.
After the ball drops and the champagne is drank, we all start to refelct on our resolutions and what we want to achieve in the New Year. If you’ve been carving your path toward salon ownership and are making that your big goal for 2017, be sure you’re prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
To help you out, we asked salon business owners about turning obstacles into opportunities, keeping costs down without cutting corners and the most important asset in any salon: your staff team.
Never waiver from what you believe in. Earlier on as a salon owner, Alann Sluser says this was the best advice she ever received. While attending a business seminar, Sluser, owner of Edmonton’s KoKo the Salon, says she was beginning to question the way she was doing business. “I was questioning whether I was creating the right environment for hairstylists,” says Sluser, but after hearing this advice from more seasoned entrepreneurs, she forged ahead.
Early on, it can be tough to assess whether or not you’re moving your business in the right direction, which means that tapping into business resources and networking opportunities allows you to cultivate and expand your knowledge. Now, KoKo the Salon boasts a robust business, with clients looking for that custom salon experience with added features, all thanks to Sluser staying true to her business beliefs.
The Challenge: Location, Location, Location
Foot traffic will bring in new business, and as Dat Tran, owner of Dat Salon in Toronto, attests, you need to factor this into your location: “When choosing my location, I used the number of people walking by to calculate the value I was going to get from being in a particular area.” Basically, if you have a lot of traffic on the street, there are many more opportunities to bring them in the door.
The Challenge: Design and Budget Constraints
When it comes to designing your salon, you want to stay on budget without compromising style. Perhaps no one knows this better than Chantelle Pasychny, owner of DesignHouse Salon in Victoria, B.C. As the 2014 winner of Davines’ Eco Salon Design Award, Pasychny remained true to her environmental roots by using materials that were both sustainable and renewable. “We used a lot of raw materials from a local mill, which reduced costs, and we invested where we needed to in lighting, which is critical for a salon,” says Pasychny. She cut down on costs even further by working along with her contractor on projects, including painting, rather than hiring professionals.
The Challenge: Financial Balance
As an owner, Pasychny found managing the financial aspects of the business a tough haul, but she quickly established a solid network that helped her get the job done. As Pasychny discovered, a bookkeeper can help you realize where you overspend and where you save: “I thought I was looking at my finances critically, but having a professional review my salon’s finances made me realize where to prioritize my time, money and efforts more effectively.” What was one of her most important takeaways from that time? “Look at your finances daily, see how you’re evolving and visualize where you want to be to get there,” she says, adding that this is a must-do to ensure success long-term.
“Think of retail as an additional hairstylist,” says Sluser. Given that retail is such a critical component of a salon’s success, it’s wise advice. For many salon owners, bringing hairstylists on board with the retail “game” can be a challenge, but Sluser has found that having brands you believe in, is one of the best ways to sell. “As a hairstylist, I need to be comfortable with using a product before I’m going to sell it,” she explains. It’s a simple philosophy but one that Pasychny echoes with her team.
The Challenge: In the Market
When you’re starting out, creating a brand can be a daunting task, but as Pasychny attests having a marketing plan will ultimately contribute to profitability.
“Time goes fast, you need to manage my time properly, take an afternoon, to plan out things you want to attract,” explains Pasychny. At the end of every month, make the time to review what worked, what didn’t and what you can do for upcoming months. For Pasychny and her team, being involved in community events including donating to local charities has garnered free publicity, and this strategy not only helps grow the salon business but also her team. “Other hairstylists started to hear about us, and see us involved in events and those were also the types of people we wanted to reach for our salon team,” says Pasychny.
The Challenge: Cultivate Your Culture
Opening a salon is challenging enough, so having a team that will support the business you’re building is essential. “We do a lot of education and we compete and, as a result, we attract people who are looking for something a bit different,” says Sluser. From editorial work to education, Tran would agree, that creating opportunities for hairstylists to step out from behind the chair is key. “Most stylists want to create and grow, so you need to be relevant to your team to keep them happy,” says Tran. As Pasychny discovered, having the right team who echo her salon’s brand, not only leads to greater profitability but also creates the environment she wants for both clients and her team.