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Salon Management: Rent a Hairdressing Chair Advice

It is estimated that there are around 100,000 self-employed hairdressers within the UK. Of this number, a good number ply their trade by renting a single chair from an already established salon.

This arrangement has dual benefits. Whilst the stylist gains a premise to trade out of, it also affords the salon a passive wage and an option to extend the range of services their salon can offer. There is no reason why chair rental can’t work brilliantly for both parties – it does for hairdressers up and down the country.

However, this article aims to explain the pros and cons of renting out a salon chair and offer advice on things to consider before entering an arrangement…

How does renting a chair in a salon work?

There are three main options when it comes to arranging a chair rental agreement between a salon owner and a freelance stylist. Which you choose depends purely on your preference and which system works best for your circumstances.

1. A Percentage Agreement

In this system, rather than charging rent, the salon takes a cut out of the hairdresser’s takings, usually in the region of 40-60%. Whilst this method can lead to big takings if the stylist is flying, there is also a risk of poor income if they go through a quiet patch or become sick.

2. A Fixed Rent

This method is the simplest for both parties as the hairdresser knows how much they need to find each week before making profit. Equally, the salon knows what income they will receive each month. Whilst this arrangement guarantees a set amount, it can be a tad irritating for the salon if the hairdresser is bringing in a lot of money but the salon receives no extra cash.

3. Mix and Match

Some salons operate a mixture of both the above systems in which the salon takes a smaller rental fee as well as a percentage of the take. This works well for the salon but can cause resentment on behalf of the stylist.

Related: Wages in the Salon Industry: What Are Your Staff Worth?

What Are The Advantages of Renting a Chair in a Salon?

1) Save Money

For the salon owner, having self-employed staff can be attractive as instead of having to pay them a wage, you’re actually receiving money for them working at your salon. Also, you save on standard employee costs such as sick pay, holiday pay, maternity and National Insurance.

Related: Where and How to Save Money in Your Salon Business

2) Employment Law

As the hairdresser renting the chair will be self-employed, the salon owner is not bound by things such as legal dismissal procedure, maternity rights, holiday pay etc. If the situation doesn’t work out, you can make a straight forward decision about the arrangement. If you are a hairdresser renting a chair, you will need to consider whether you are happy to take on the risks of being self employed.

3) Motivation

As in any trade, sometimes a fully employed staff member can go through a bad patch and perhaps not pull their weight. This happens from time to time. As a self-employed stylist is working for themselves, logic would state the standard of their work will be high as the end results go directly into their pockets. If you are on a percentage arrangement, this can result in more money for the salon but even if not, the professionalism will still reflect well on your business.

What Are The Disadvantages of Renting a Chair in a Salon?

Although there are clear positives to chair rental, it isn’t all plain sailing and there are potential pitfalls to consider.

1) Loss of Control

As a freelancer does not work directly for you, you have limited control over some issues that could affect your salon; what hours they choose to work for example. As the stylist works for themselves, they won’t expect you to manage them. This can create issues surrounding team building and morale. Also, if their service or attitude does not correlate with the culture and standards of your reputation, it is harder for you to correct this as you could with your own staff.

2) Competition

It is important to remember that your freelancer, at the end of the day, is running THEIR own business. Whilst many salon owners and stylists make a chair rental agreement work, it has been known to go wrong, too. It can sometimes get a bit dog eat dog, especially if the freelancer feels tired of handing you some of their profits and wants to start going it alone.

3) Customer Poaching

Building on from the last point, if your freelance ever leaves, there is little you can do to prevent them from taking some of your clientele with them, or worse still, your staff.

Salon Chair Rental Risk Reduction and Contract

As you can see, with renting a chair, there are both pros and cons to be considered. To help ensure your business enjoys the benefits of chair rental without all of the risks, here are some steps you really must follow.

For a small amount of expense and effort at the start of the agreement, you can avoid huge headaches and costs later down the line should things not go to plan.

Set Out A Rent a Chair Contract

To ensure things run smoothly, it is essential you do the bulk of your thinking prior to the arrangements rather than attempting to put out fires after the chair has already been rented out. It is important you try to envisage the potential pitfalls and agree upon a contract so you both know where you stand at all times. To help you out and protect your business we have made a list of questions to ask when renting out a salon chair…

Things to consider…

Length of contract – 1 year, 2 years, 3 years? How long do you envisage the relationship lasting?

Working hours – Will the stylists work their own hours or match your salon’s existing structure?

Disciplinary action – imagine the worst and you caught the stylist stealing, what action would then take place?

Sickness, maternity and holiday – People get sick, pregnant and go on holiday, it is inevitable. However, these issues won’t present a problem if actions are agreed and all ambiguity is removed from the situation from the get go.

Product and equipment – Whether or not the freelancer has access to your salon’s equipment, products and even the apprentice’s time should be clearly defined from the start.

Product Sales – Will the stylist be paid a percentage of product sales, will they be allowed to sell their own products?

Client ownership – This is a big area of potential conflict if not addressed early on. Does the stylist have access to your database or is their client list entirely their own. Ideally, you want to keep both customer booking systems completely separate but this NEEDS to be agreed upon early doors.

How Much Should It Cost to Rent a Salon Chair in the UK?

The cost you set for renting a salon chair from your salon will depend on a number of factors. For example, location, salon reputation and the facilities or clients provided will all have an impact on how much it should cost to rent your chair.

With this in mind, it is difficult to give an exact figure or even an average cost for how much rent to charge for a salon chair. Some salons choose to charge on a daily basis, while others prefer a weekly rent. Daily charges allow more flexibility and the option for two part-time stylists to share a chair, while a weekly rent is simpler for long term contracts.

With these variances in mind, it could cost anywhere between £50 a week to £50 a day to rent a salon chair! To try and figure out how much a chair should cost to rent at your salon, work how much you think a stylist could reasonably make per day/week. Then, taking into consideration how much it will cost you to provide any products, facilities or equipment, work out how much you would need to take for you both to benefit from the arrangement.

Accountancy and VAT

Make sure you speak to your accountant and have a decisive plan on how the VAT returns and takings sheet should be completed. HMRC have strict guidelines on VAT collection for chair rental and it is important you comply so you don’t get stung down the line.

Hopefully this article has given you some advice on how best to ensure renting a hairdressing chair works out to be a great move for your business.

Don’t forget to shop online at Salons Direct for all your salon supplies. 

You can find more salon management advice on our blog, including these posts…

Mobile vs Salon: Which is Best For Your New Hair or Beauty Business? | Paying Yourself as a Salon Owner | Creating Boundaries with Staff in Your Salon Business