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Opening a Salon Checklist: 6 Steps for a Successful Start

Opening a Salon Checklist: 6 Steps for a Successful Start

So you’re thinking about opening a salon. Chances are, you’ve entered the world of beauty because you’ve got a creative flair and a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, so this makes all the sense to us. You’ve got what it takes to make a big impact on your community and to establish your shop as the hottest new thing in town, and we’re here to help every step of the way, from building out a business plan to defining your aesthetic with the right salon stations

Step One: Create a Business Plan and Get Legal

The first item on our opening-a-salon checklist is to build a business plan. This will help ensure that you’re profitable relatively quickly and that you have a safeguard should something fall through. Get cozy with Excel or Google Sheets and start brainstorming and finalizing.

  • Define Your Business — Come with a clearly stated mission statement no more than one or two sentences long to define your business. This is an important step because it will help you choose which offerings to focus on and will inform every decision you make in the coming months.
  • Choose Your Services and Start Pricing  — Decide what services you’ll offer and research the pricing of other salons in your area offering similar services to figure out what the going rate is for said services in your area. Set your prices, making sure to charge enough so you make a profit but not so much that you price yourself out of the market.

building a business plan checklist

  • Build an Expense Sheet – What do you need to pay for and how much will everything cost? How many people will you need to hire and what will you pay them? In addition to securing a place and figuring out rent, make sure to reference the list of things you need to start a salon below to help you decide what you need to buy before you can officially open your doors. Use an expense sheet template to get started.
  • Define Your Target Market — The target market is defined as the group of consumers at which you plan to aim your products and services. How old are they? Where do they live? What’s their average income? Take all of these things into consideration before you choose a location, hire or make any purchases.
  • Create a Marketing Plan — Determine how much you’ll be able to spend on marketing (including the time it takes to market on social media) and where you’ll want to market. Set a monthly budget and time allotment for all advertising. There are also some great grassroots ways to market a salon that cost very little. 
  • Make It Legal — Before you go full throttle into your new business, make sure you legitimize it by naming it and establishing a company with your state. If you plan to provide services yourself, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve passed your boards and are fully licensed.

Step Two: Secure a Location

Location, location, location.  Where you park your storefront affects accessibility and will impact who comes into your salon and becomes a regular client. Naturally, its location within your community could have a big impact on your sales as well. If it’s tucked away on a quiet side street, you’ll probably get less interest than you would if it’s located at a busy intersection.

Finding the right salon space is also important to ensuring that you have enough room for the stylists you plan to hire and all the services you want to offer. Some of the things you need to think about when choosing a location include:

  • Rent, taxes and remodeling costs. Rent isn’t the only cost you’ll have to pay when opening a salon. There are also taxes and remodeling costs, which vary widely depending on where you end up putting down your roots.
  • Space and square footage. Find a space to ensure that you have enough square footage for the stylists you plan to hire and all the services you want to offer.
  • Permits and licenses. You may need a permit from the city where your new salon is located before you can begin remodeling or making any big changes.
  • Accessibility. Is it handicap-accessible or will you need to make it so? Is there enough parking and is the building relatively easy to find?
  • Signage. Make sure you have good, high-quality and visible signage so everyone can see your space when they drive or walk by.

Salon photo

Step Three: Purchase Your Supplies and Equipment

Now that you have a general idea of what and where your salon will be, it’s time to start bringing it to life. You’ll need some salon equipment and extras to get your business off the ground. Note that these guidelines are primarily focused on hair salons. You will need additional supplies if you plan to offer barber, nail, skin or massage services.

  • Salon Stations — Your salon stations make up the bulk of your salon’s interior, so you don’t want to skimp on them. They play a major role in the way your salon looks and help keep your stylists organized. On top of that, a comfortable salon chair and a practical storage area will help keep everything looking professional. Use our salon chair buying guide to make sure you consider all the important factors before investing in styling chairs. Be sure to space your stations out comfortably so your stylists have ample room to move around.
  • Browse Salon Stations

    • Shampooing Stations — In addition to your styling stations, you’ll need a few comfortable, accessible backwash stations or sidewash shampoo stations to get your clients prepped for their service. To ensure that scheduling stays on track and you don’t keep guests waiting, make sure to have enough shampooing stations for the number of guests you plan to have in the salon at any given time. 

      The standard is to have one shampoo system for every three styling stations.  If your salon will be performing a lot of hair color services, you may even consider more shampoo systems to stations.  When selecting a shampoo system, make sure you've considered how the plumbing in your new space may dictate the type of shampoo unit you select. Will your plumbing be coming up from the floor or will it be coming directly out of a wall? Will you have a backwash set up or a sidewash set up? Also, note that some states require each shampoo system to use a vacuum breaker at each shampoo bowl. Be sure to check with your local regulations and purchase them with your shampoo system if needed! Our hair washing station buying guide will help you quickly find the best setup for your salon.

      • Processing Area 
        • Dryer chairs
        • Hooded Dryers
        • Waiting Chairs
        • Color Processors

      checklist of areas of your salon to equip before opening day

      • Reception Area — The reception area of your salon helps create a grand first impression when customers walk in the door and ensures that guests are comfortable while they wait. It’s also one of the spaces that gets photographed and shared on social media the most, so you definitely want to make it stand out. Make sure to create a welcoming reception area and keep it clean and tidy at all times.  

      Explore Salon Retail Displays

      • Salon Supplies — You want to make sure you have a reliable wholesale supplier on hand so you have everything you need to provide essential services and more. You may want to consider attending an industry trade show to help you find your vendors. Note that we offer many of these products on our website.
      • Cleaning Supplies — We all know staying clean and hygienic is vital to the health and safety of salon workers,  so make sure you’re well-stocked on all the basics before you cut the ribbon. In addition to your standard disinfectants, brooms and dusters, you want to consider investing in a good touchless stationary vacuum so your stylists can easily sweep up hair clippings, dirt and dust as they go. It helps to use a salon sanitation checklist to be sure you’ve got what you need.

      Check out our salon and booth rental supply checklists to make sure you have every item you need before opening day!

      Stylish Salon

      Step Four: Remodel, Install and Decorate

      Of course, before you can host your grand opening, you’ll need to remodel, decorate and put the final finishing touches on your salon. Some of the installation and remodeling may involve recruiting the help of a professional, so make sure to work with someone who has experience in commercial work and can help ensure that you have all the right permits secured before making any drastic changes. You may also want to bribe some friends to help you unpack, assemble and install your salon furnishings. Pizza and beer can sometimes do the trick! 

      Step Five: Recruit and Vet Stylists 

      Hiring the right team to represent your salon is crucial to your success, so take your time with the hiring process and make sure you fully vet all your potential new hires.

      • Determine Your Core Values — Before you start the hiring process, you want to determine your business’s official core values. These are the pillars upon which every member of your team stands and will help ensure that you foster an environment where clients are happy and employees thrive.
      • Set Up Payroll — You’ve got to be able to pay everyone and you need to do it legally. There are several different payment structures you can use to compensate your staff, including the hourly rate, annual salary, commission-based pay and performance-based pay. You’ll definitely want to either partner with a local payroll company or use a designated software for your payroll.

      your salon hiring checklist

      • Advertise Your Openings — Make sure your target talent base knows you’re hiring. Place an ad on Canvas Me, Modern Salon, Behind the Chair, Indeed, LinkedIn and local job boards to get the word out and let the local cosmetology school know about your openings. You’ll also want to make sure you promote on social media and ask friends to share your posts.
      • Conduct Interviews — It’s time to conduct interviews and ask potential employees to do a test service on a model or mannequin head so you can see their skills and talent. Ask them if they have a portfolio on Instagram or another channel. If they already have a good selection of photos of their work, it will be much easier to market their new skills as an addition to your new salon.  During the interview process, focus on culture questions to try and get a good idea if your potential employee will fit in with the team and properly represent your salon and all it stands for. 

      Step Six: Pass Inspections and Host Your Grand Opening

      The final step before you can finally open your doors is to complete your inspections. Your state’s cosmetology and barber board will require you to have certain postings, forms and lists and to meet specific sanitation standards. Since this varies so widely by state, it’s important that you call your board to determine what rules and regulations must be followed. As long as you pay close attention to these rules, you should have no trouble passing your inspection.

      And now, finally, it’s time to plan your grand opening!

      hosting your grand opening checklist

      • Alert the Press! — You’ve put a ton of time, heart and hard work into opening your business and now it’s time to reap the rewards (and the free press). Let all the local newspapers and news stations know you’re open with a well-written press release.
      • Create Buzz Online — Make sure your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles are ready to go and are promoting your grand opening.
      • Invite Officials — Your local officials will want to be a part of your big opening day and will help create lots of buzz and brand awareness. Make sure to send them personalized invitations to the grand opening event.
      • Host Giveaways and Freebies — One great way to get people in the door on opening day is to host giveaways, freebies, drawings and raffles. Include products and services to help build up a reliable customer base. Offer a lower-tier service for free to give potential patrons a taste of your offerings.
      • Offer Refreshments — You want your guests to stick around for a bit to ensure that they get the full experience and, hopefully, help you create some buzz on social media. One great way to do this is to offer some beverages and snacks.

      If gathering is not an option due to Covid-19, plan on having a virtual grand opening! You can still get your future customers excited about your salon and booking future appointments.

      woman standing with grand opening sign

      Ready to start planning your new salon venture? Congratulations! Minerva Beauty is your go-to resource for all salon equipment, including fresh new products. We’re here to help ensure that you get everything you need to start a salon that’s successful and becomes a fixture in your community. Check out our buying guides and equipment maintenance tips for even more helpful insights.


      Image Credits





      Gary Woodard/


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