Q:We've recently opened a full-service nail salon, emphasizing pretty hands and feet. Our plan is to enter the market with strategically placed boutique-like salons. Can you direct us to market research in this area?
Grand Rapids, Michigan
A:Provided by Cyndy Drummey, publisher of NAILSMagazine.
If at first you do succeed, try and try again. However, opening a second salon is not as simple as copying what works in one place to a new location. There is much to be learned from the mistakes and successes you had in your first salon. If you intend to open a series of boutique-type salons, you should try to standardize as much of your business management as you can so that all your stores operate similarly. This will make all your choices--from lease arrangements to staffing to decor--much simpler.
Studying the demographics of your expansion areas is critical. You will need to understand traffic patterns and average family incomes in the area. Do you have enough clients from your existing client base to get a new location started? Will you be able to support your current mix of services in the new area? Will some of your present staff be able to assist at the new location or will you need to hire and train new staff members?
Also, do you have a strong relationship with your product distributor? Your distributor can be a tremendous resource, not just for product buying, but for understanding salon patterns in other areas, learning about special discounts on equipment or custom design, and introducing you to other salon owners. A distributor knows that as your business expands, your business with her will also expand--she will usually do what she can to help you be successful.
There are several industry resources that can help with the specifics. The Nails Industry Association is a professional association for nail technicians and owners. They offer liability insurance, a subscription to NailsMagazine, trade show discounts, and a continuing education program (which addresses salon-owner issues), among other benefits. For information, call (800) 84-NAILS.
The Salon Association is a trade association for salon owners. They have stricter membership requirements (based on salon size), but offer a wealth of resources for owners, including books, health insurance, advanced education and networking opportunities. Call (800) 211-4TSA.
There are salon consultants who specialize in the needs of owners. NAILS has worked with several of them on a variety of projects. A couple of recommendations: Marketing Solutions, (703) 968-0400; Salon Development Corp., (800) 334-7198; and Salon Dynamics Inc., (303) 691-0285.
Subscriptions to NAILSMagazine are available for $38, and can be ordered by calling (310) 376-8788.
Q:I want to begin researching a bar/restaurant, but I don't know where to begin. Do you have any suggestions?
Brian J. Sweeney
New York, New York
A: As a matter of fact, we've written the book on it--or at least our Business Products division has. Business Start-Up Guides #1186: Bar/Tavern and #1279: Starting A Restaurant will walk you through the steps to opening and operating a bar or restaurant, obtaining health department permits, and keeping track of inventory. The resource appendixes contain a wealth of information sources, including trade associations, publications and suppliers. For more information about our business guides, see page 97.
You can also check out Gale's Small Business Sourcebook in the reference section of your local library. It has separate entries for Bar/Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant, and lists pages of information sources like associations and other organizations, educational programs and suppliers.
The National Restaurant Association, for example, publishes A Guide to Preparing a Restaurant Business Plan for $40 ($20 to members), as well as Restaurants USA, a monthly magazine covering the restaurant industry. To order either of these publications or for information about membership, call (800) 424-5156 or write to 1200 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036-3097.
Nation's Restaurant News is a weekly magazine which caters to the food service industry. Subscriptions are available for $34.50. To order, call (800) 447-7133.
Our July 1996 story, "The Ten Hottest Homebased Businesses," listed information about Pacific Medical's medical billing training packages. Please note that prices for these packages range from $1,995 to $5,995. For more information, call Pacific Medical at (800) 815-6334.
Address your small-business questions to: Q&A, Business Start-Ups, 2445 McCabe Way, Irvine, CA 92614, or e-mail them to email@example.com or BSUMag@AOL.COM. Due to limited space, time and resources, we can answer only those Q&A letters chosen for publication. Questions may be edited for clarity.