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How to Open a Salon in the UK


Do you live and breathe all things beauty? Know your hylauronic from your retinol or ombré from balayage? Regardless of whether you identify as a skincare guru or hair stylist mastermind, here’s a wild idea: maybe you should open a salon. 

It’s a dream come true for most, but the reality is it’s not that far away. Navigating the early stages of any business can be challenging, but with the right idea and hardworking team behind you, the rest is golden. Beauty isn’t the easiest nut to crack, but if you’ve got a love for it, then what’s stopping you?

But it’s full steam ahead, beautypreneurs. We have a little TLC and guidance for you to make 2024 the best year yet. This guide is your map to salon success that takes you through the exciting steps from the concept stage to the grand opening.

Step 1: Chart your course with a business plan 

Think of your business plan as a starting point for all things beauty. It should map out your salon’s goals, target audience, unique selling points (USPs), and early finance projections. It’s best to approach it with creativity: imagine pitching your dream to a beauty and aesthetics investor. Craft a concise, impactful elevator pitch that highlights your idea and sparks excitement. 

Sustainable practices and ethical sourcing are trending, which means positioning your salon as an outpost of conscious beauty might get clients flocking in.

Step 2: Know your audience

Before building your beauty empire, understand your local landscape. Who are your competitors? What services do they offer? Where are the gaps you can fill? Research your target audience. What are their beauty needs, desires, and budget? To stand out, consider offering niche services like brow lamination or holistic facials using organic products.

Step 3: Brush up on finances

Opening a salon can be a pricey affair, so research startup costs for rent, equipment, supplies, and staff. Also, explore funding options like bank loans, crowdfunding, or investors who love a good glow-up. Remember, a detailed budget is your lifeline, which can help you anticipate costs and secure the necessary funds.

Step 4: Get licensed and legal 

Time to make things official! Choose a structure (sole trader, limited company, etc.) and register your business with HMRC for taxes. 

During your setup phase, apply for any necessary licenses or certifications from your local council, like those for specific treatments or waste disposal. You need to contact your council for a premises licence if you plan on offering the following services:

  • massage
  • manicure
  • chiropody
  • light treatments, such as sunbeds
  • electric treatments, such as laser hair removal
  • other treatments involving heat, light or vapour, such as a sauna

Cover all bases by carrying out a risk assessment to identify any issues before your salon opens. Fire safety is also important. Make sure there are enough fire exits, easy evacuation and the correct fire extinguishers in rooms with lots of electrical equipment.

Don’t forget about business insurance, as it’s your safety net if anything unexpected happens. You need to explore public and employee liability to stay protected.

If you use hazardous chemicals in your salon, you must comply with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.

Step 5: Find your salon a safe space

Is your salon a city hub or maybe a laidback neighbourhood staple? Either way, choose a location that reflects your brand and is accessible to your target audience. Consider passing trade, parking, and the area’s general vibe. Remember, first impressions are everything, so make sure you find a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing space.

Step 6: The gossip’s out!

Now, promote your services to the world by developing a strong brand identity and messaging that draws your target audience in. 

Last but not least, build a flossy website or landing page and create a social media presence that showcases both your salon’s sass and services. Collaborate with local influencers or even offer opening-week offers to generate buzz.

Step 7: Throw those salon doors open

Now it’s time to unveil your beauty hub…

Build yourself a good reputation, from word of mouth to Google and Trustpilot reviews. If you’re using appointment booking services, then make sure feedback on those stays shining bright. Whatever happens, continue to stay true to your vision and deliver five-star treatments.

Make sure you’ve got yourself a reliable payment provider who aren’t swindling you with steep card processing fees

Protect your cash flow with clever solutions like deposits and upfront payments for treatments. Then, if you get an unlucky no-show, you can still cover a percentage of treatment costs.

Go beyond the basics

  • Build a dream team: Hire talented stylists or therapists and reception staff who also share your passion for beauty and aesthetics. Invest in their potential and nurture a positive working environment. 
  • Technology: Use booking apps and online consultations to reach a wider audience and offer the best service. Plus, use WhatsApp for Business as an efficiency-boosting tool.
  • Additionally, follow industry trends to stay ahead of the game, experiment with new services, and reward loyalty to retain clients.

Remember, when you open a salon, it’s an evolving journey that unfolds over time. Therefore, enjoy the process, embrace the challenges, and let the passion for your trade speak for itself. Soon enough, your salon or clinic will be the go-to destination for beauty-boosting treatments and a testament to your vision and hard work.

Ready to start creating your beauty empire? Then go forth and mani-pedi your way to salon success.

💡 Plus, don’t forget: Use captivating visuals throughout your website and social media, as polished photos and videos of your salon and services will have potential clients hitting the “book now” button faster than you can say, “Can you fit me in for a quick tint?”

FAQs on how to open a salon

How much does it cost to open a salon in the UK?

According to a few sources, the cost of opening a salon ranges between £3,000 and £50,000.  It depends on how simple or complex your treatments are and what equipment you might need.

Is there anything specific I need to open a salon?

You may need additional licenses for certain beauty treatments, like tanning or electrolysis. Scroll back up to Step 4 for more!

Do I need to use an appointment booking system?

Using an appointment booking system in your UK salon is a great way to manage bookings and also keep track of clients. These systems can even send client reminders and manage your staff’s schedules. Using an appointment booking system isn’t essential, but it can help reduce double bookings or no-shows. Plus, they provide a better customer experience by letting clients book appointments online whenever they like.

How can I take deposits for beauty treatments?

We’re not trying to blow our own trumpet, but we’ve got an easy, low-fee deposit solution for you. This takes us to our final section…

How Atoa can help

Once you’re ready to make treatments; you’re ready to take payments. Our platform is perfect for taking funds for first-time appointments and walk-ins. Additionally, you can add your team or freelance staff to the app to take payments for you.

Don’t wait any longer to streamline your salon in every way. Sign up with Atoa today and experience the convenience of hassle-free deposits.

How to open a salon

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