Of the 400,000 businesses that started up two years ago, the government estimates that 20% will have failed within their first 18 months and half will have disappeared altogether by 2015.

Here are the NHF’s top 5 tips for building a sustainable salon business which will keep customers coming back time after time.

1. Develop a “business head”

Starting your new business was the easy bit! The real hard slog of building, maintaining and protecting your reputation starts now. Some of it is simple salon basics: offering great service, great reliability and consistency, great value for money and a great client experience.

But you need to recognise a hard truth. You may have gone into hairdressing because you loved its creativity and flair, but that’s now only part of who you are – you’re a business person. That’s more than just being responsible for the finances, although that’s important and some basic business training can help.

You also need to be the person with the vision – and you need to communicate that to your employees so they, in turn, can make it a reality for your clients. You need to step back and think about things like strategy and marketing and you need to keep an eye on what’s going on with your rivals down the high street.

Ultimately, you need to be the person thinking about the opportunities, extending your business or your services, listening to what clients (and staff) are really saying, setting the direction and tone of the business, not just managing the day-to-day business.

2. Write a new business plan

A great, practical way to get into that mindset is to sit down and write a new business plan. Your business plan should be an evolving, “living” document, not something that’s filed away somewhere.

Your new document should set out some specific, realistic and achievable goals for the year ahead (and maybe the one after that too). Then come back to it in a year’s time and see how you’ve done – and then write your next plan.

Take time to look at what you’ve learned since you opened. Is it what you expected, is a particular service doing better than another, are you attracting the sort of clients you thought you would, does your team seem happy and motivated, how are you going to stretch and challenge yourself and them in the year ahead?

3. Make every day like your first

Try to remember your first day, what did your excited new staff and clients see about the salon and what it was that attracted them to come to you in the first place? Don’t sit back and accept that even if you’re doing OK, that’s good enough.

Loyalty is fragile so in the face of competition you need to be constantly looking at refreshing what you’re doing. That could be anything from re-painting to extending into new services, expanding to a second salon, building your retail presence or organising some inspirational staff training.

4. Keep visible

Especially in hairdressing where there are lots of competing salons, being visible is very important. So, put time and energy into this, rather than just hoping the latest collection in the window or the latest promotional offer is going to be enough.

Work hard on your social media profile and web presence, make a name for yourself locally by supporting or sponsoring community events, hold regular charity or client evenings or build links with colleges.

If you can be the salon local people recognise, even if they haven’t been to your salon, that will help to build your business for the future.

5. Work hard

Keeping all those plates spinning and managing a busy salon is a tall order. Being successful in business can sometimes be down to luck – having the right product or service in the right place at the right time – but mostly it’s simply about hard work. Don’t forget to build your team as they can help to take some of the day-to-day “small stuff” off your shoulders.


For more information, visit the National Hairdresser’s Federation here

Find this useful? Click here for more Salon Management tips.