When I first started blogging in December of 2006, I started with the hope that we could learn from each other. Now, nearly two and a half years later, my salon doors are finally open, and, despite the ups and downs, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. With that in mind, I've compiled a list of things I've learned during this experience; maybe it will help pave the way for some of you to have a smoother opening experience.
1. Have a soft opening. Don't just throw a grand opening party as soon as you service your first paying customer. You'll still be making personnel and layout tweaks, so wait for those changes before you do an official "grand opening."
2. Don't just invest in yourself and your space, also invest in giving your nail techs the proper training before your doors open. Recruit friends and family to volunteer for trial nail services. You can also hold other types of training like customer service skills. I'm currently working on getting a class on how to retail in the salon, because we're not doing well with product sales yet.
3. Hire techs with experience. At first, I thought hiring newbie techs with no clientele was a good idea because I figured I'd able to mold their skills easier. Unfortunately, I found out there were some big cons to this theory: customers notice their inexperience and immaturity. This can also cause drama in the salon.
4. Be in the digital age. Go after clients via the Internet, including e-newsletters, e-mail confirmations, and online appointment booking.
5. Finding the right business partner and manager is trial-and-error. If you're going into business with a partner, I'd say make sure your partner is right for you. Both partners have to come in on an equal level and be on the same page. Regarding managers, pay careful attention early on to the person's human relations skills; it's crucial to make sure your techs are in a comfortable environment.
6. Diversify your menu. Women don't want to make multiple stops for their beauty services. I say this although I'm having problems getting customers for facials right now. I think you might be able to avoid this if you hire an established esthetician who can bring clients with her.
7. Marketing and follow-up is important. Send out tons of press releases and promotional e-mail blasts that highlight a different service every month. If there's an area of your business that's lacking (like facials), then focus on marketing that business. At ROB|B, if we haven't heard from a person in several weeks, we'll call them to ask why (It is us? The economy?), so we can fix our problems.
8. Especially in this economic environment, go above and beyond to retain customers. At ROB|B, we guarantee all of our work.
9. Never give up. No matter how bad it gets, don't throw in the towel. A nearby hair salon owner is about to close her doors. I've encouraged her to just try and get through the summer or the fall.