Business Management

How to Move Your Salon

No one welcomes the hassle that moving a salon is sure to bring. But you can minimize the headaches by researching your new location thoroughly, planning well ahead, budgeting realistically, and packing smart.

When you move your salon, it may be the fulfillment of a dream for the perfect ambience, the happy result of growth, or a nightmare induced by the end of a lease. Regardless of the reason, you’ll have 1,001 details to arrange. To make the change as smooth as possible, plan well ahead, check with local and professional authorities about requirements for your new locale, budget your costs, set up a timeline, and devise ways to ensure your clients make the trip with you.

Here’s a guide to help you make the big change.

Check With the Authorities

Business, health, and professional regulations govern beauty technicians at the local, state or provincial, and national levels. These regulations can vary from one locality to the next, or change if you expand your operation beyond a certain number of employees or square-footage. When you plan your move, check with all the appropriate authorities first. It could change where and how you move.

Failure to check first and sign the lease later cost Alisha Sale, owner of Alisha’s Nail Boutique in Latham, N.Y., $5,000 in unexpected costs when she opened her salon in Albany, N.Y.

“Maybe if I had better researched this ahead of time, I would have picked a better location,” Sale laments. “My advice is, call your state department of licensing and tell them what type of business you’re planning to open and ask them to send you forms for any licenses you might need. Ask for any state health requirements. Call the town to find out if you need any special zoning, permits, or any building code inspections.”

Individual cities usually have a planning department or an office for business licenses. Localities may have laws governing the zoning of your building. They may have requirements for handicapped access through front doors and in washrooms, drainage and electrical hook-ups, number of washrooms per employees, or upgrades to copper plumbing. In some areas, local law requires that an electrical sign be manufactured by a factory approved by Underwriters Laboratories. To find the appropriate local authority, look in your local telephone directory in the government pages – usually at the front – under the headings Building and Construction, Business Licenses and Permits, Planning and the like.

Counties often leave codes and permits to the cities. However, it’s wise to check again in the government pages under the county listing for Environmental Health Services, Health and Human Services, and the like to ask. Some counties in California, for example, require that spas offering massages provide separate showers and dressing rooms for men and women. Also, if you plan to sell food or drinks to your clients, the health department may require a sanitary inspection.

If you have trouble finding someone who can help, try calling the county supervisor for your district. He may have the names of the appropriate officials and telephone numbers that bypass those irritating recordings. But you may have to wait, either on the phone or in line at the office, for information.

Work Up a Budget

Professional movers will come to your shop and give you a free estimate for the cost of a move, based on square-footage, amount of equipment, and distance they have to travel. Some specialize in moving businesses; check in the Yellow Pages for your area. Professional movers charge a wide range of fees and have varying degrees of professionalism; some will charge much less if you pack the items yourself.

You can save big bucks by moving yourself. The experts at Budget truck rentals suggest taking a room-by-room or area-by-area inventory. Use that to calculate how many boxes and what size truck you will need. Dealers can help you with the calculation, based on the square-footage of your current location, and an on-line calculator is available at Even if you plan to have professional movers do the work, the inventory will be useful for planning.

Purchased boxes have the advantage of being clean and uniform in size, which makes loading the truck easier. Truck rental agencies and packaging sores sell boxes, bubble wrap, packing materials, tape, and rope.

Boxes for sheaf paper are sturdy and have lids, and can be gotten for cheap or free at office supply and copy stores. If you use found boxes, check that they are clean and free of insects.

Map Out a Timeline

Depending on the size of your salon and the reason for your move, you’ll want to start planning anywhere from three months ahead for a simple change-of-locale for a single operator, to a year or more if you plan major remodeling, says Lee-Anne Baker-Smith, owner of Fantasy Island in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.

If you’ll have contractors working on your new location, get completion dates in writing and negotiate enforcement clauses into the contract, advises Leslyn Zak, owner of Wild Ivy Day Spa in Rockport, Mass. When she moved into her current location, building delays and tardy plumbers and electricians cost her three months and an additional move into temporary quarters. “Oh, the stress!” Zak recalls.

Nevertheless, she found that careful planning and keeping to her schedule allowed her to make the physical move in one day, without missing an appointment.

Do as much work as possible ahead of time, and be super-organized about what remains at the last-minute. Most salon owners plan their move for a Sunday and Monday so they have the least disruption to business.

Many landlords will give you two to four months of free rent prior to move-in. In her three moves with VIP Nails and Tans in Riverview, Mich., owner Renee Borowy has used that overlap to move retail displays, extra product, and equipment she doesn’t use every day.

During the week before the move, Borowy says, she scales down appointments for her tanning service so the beds can be dismantled and taken to the new location during the week.

In addition, plan time to get any necessary permits. “They’ll tell you seven to 10 days, but plan for 20,” says Sale.

On moving day, be sure to allow additional time – or get additional help – to clean up the space you are leaving. Some landlords require departing tenants to take down partitions; check your lease agreement.

If you plan to rent a self-haul truck, remember that rental agencies get busiest on the first and last days of the month. Some won’t take reservations for those days because they cannot guarantee that vehicles will be available.

“We sell out every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You need to make your reservation at least two weeks ahead to be guaranteed a truck,” says Rick Harris, owner of the Budget-Ryder RTS dealership in Pacific Beach, Calif. Rates also may rise on the weekends, and rentals may be available in half-day segments.

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