How to Open a Salon or Day Spa

Types of Salon Services

On the hair salon side, the most sought-after service is, of course, haircutting and styling. This includes everything from styles created with a blow dryer, curling iron or hand scrunching to tried-and-true roller/dryer sets for the "mature" clientele. Popular color services include highlighting, lowlighting, glazing, corrective coloring, dimensional special effects, and hair and scalp treatments. Texture services include permanent waves, partial or spot perms, spiral perms and anti-curl treatments. Braiding, which has made a strong comeback in many parts of the country, falls into a category of its own. Finally, special occasion hairstyling, for events like proms and weddings, round out the typical hair services menu.

What's Inside

Although technically it's an aesthetic service, nail and foot care is often offered in hair salons. Nail services include:

  • Manicures (both traditional and French manicures)
  • Pedicures
  • Nail wrapping
  • Acrylic nail application
  • Sculpted nail application
  • Nail tipping
  • Paraffin treatments
  • Skin exfoliation and hand/foot massage are often part of the manicure and pedicure processes.

Whether you offer nail services is entirely dependent on the size of your salon and whether you can afford both the equipment and the salary of a nail technician at the outset. Today's nail client is used to visiting shops devoted only to nail services, so she won't be surprised if you don't offer manicures, acrylic nails and tipping. But you may be able to get her to leave her regular manicurist if she sees that you're offering the same service at your cool new salon. At the very least, you should offer haircuts and styling, basic perms, straightening treatments and highlighting.

Types of Spa Services
As mentioned before, spa services are a rapidly growing segment of the personal care industry. The range of services is truly dazzling, but basically, aesthetic services offered at a day spa fall into three categories: skin and body care, hair removal and makeup. (Technically, there is a fourth category--nail services--but as we just mentioned, nail services have crossed over into the beauty mainstream and are no longer considered just a spa service. However, when offered in a spa setting, nail services tend to be higher priced than in a salon.) Skin- and body-care spa services include:

  • Facials and body exfoliation (which may involve the use of salt glows, body polish, enzyme peels, and body masks like mud or paraffin)
  • Massage (full body massage, facial and/or hand/foot massage)
  • Wraps and packs (used to combat cellulite and reduce water retention)
  • Hydrotherapy treatments (whirlpool baths, Scotch hose--a type of massage that uses a hose to direct streams of water on the client to improve circulation--and hot tub treatments)
  • Body tanning (self-tanners and tanning beds)
  • Hair-removal services include:
  • Electrolysis
  • Waxing (face, legs, arms, bikini, back and underarms)
  • Eyebrow arching
  • Makeup services include:
  • Cosmetics application
  • Color analysis
  • Eyelash tinting
  • Eyebrow tinting
  • Ear piercing

When determining which of these spa services to offer, it's important to weigh factors like equipment cost against potential profitability. For instance, you may want to offer hydrotherapy in your new day spa. But hydrotherapy services require the greatest outlay of cash for equipment and facility development. So it might be a better idea to limit your spa services initially to massage (which doesn't require as much equipment) and/or facials.

Another important factor to consider when deciding which spa services you'll offer is that many of them require a wet room. This includes the hydrotherapies mentioned above, as well as any body masks, exfoliation treatments and other body treatments that must be rinsed off after application. Even if you decide not to offer hydro services when you first open, you should at least plan to include a wet room in your initial plans or you'll always be limited to "dry" services--unless, of course, you move to new digs or expand your existing location.

Because the concept of a day spa implies a day of pampering similar to what you might enjoy on a spa vacation or a cruise ship, it's common for spa owners to offer packages of services. Generally speaking, packages should consist of at least three complementary services, or in the case of hydrotherapy treatments, one hydro service and up to four "dry" services. Spa industry insiders recommend offering half-day packages that run about three hours and full-day, five-hour packages that include 30 minutes to an hour for a light lunch.

A Day in the Life
Even though no two days tend to be alike for salon owners because the needs of their clients (not to mention their employees) vary so widely, there are certain tasks you can expect to perform on a regular basis. To begin with, you'll probably spend a lot of time on the telephone every day, helping to book appointments, ordering supplies, talking to salespeople, arranging for in-shop or offsite training, and so on. You'll also have to make up work schedules (then juggle them to accommodate employees' scheduled time off and personal needs), track receivables, monitor costs, dream up new advertising and marketing strategies, and possibly create daily or weekly specials that can be emailed to your regular customers to lure them in for additional services. On the personnel side, you'll hire new employees, visit beauty schools to troll for hot prospects, conduct performance reviews, mentor young stylists and/or aesthetics technicians with minimal experience, consult with stylists or colorists whose efforts go awry, and mediate when tempers flare between staff members. And of course, if you're also a licensed practicing cosmetologist, you'll be styling hair, applying color and rolling perms.

Sounds like a lot for one person to do, doesn't it? Well, it is--and that's why many salon owners (even those whose salons are quite small) often hire a salon manager to take over some of the administrative duties. This is a particularly good idea if you intend to continue to work behind the chair, since hairstyling chores alone can take up a lot of your time every day. And while it's possible to slip in some administrative work while you're waiting for someone's perm to process or a late client to arrive, it can be difficult to switch gears and give administrative tasks like balancing the books the full concentration they need.

 

How to Open a Salon or Day Spa

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