How to start a day spa business or beauty salon

Thinking about setting up a spa business? Check out our guide on how to open a beauty salon

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Beauty salon ideas

It’s common for beauty salons to only focus on a select number of treatments and services so as to perfect their offering. For instance you may have beauty salons that only offer body and facial waxing and massages. Or you may have a beauty salon that only offers nail treatments and hair treatments.

Business ideas for a beauty salon may include:

  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Bleaching, waxing and threading
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Facial massage
  • Tanning services such as spray-on fake tans or sunbeds and tanning beds
  • Specialist hair treatments such as hair extensions and Brazilian blow drys
  • Specialist beauty treatments such as electrolysis, laser hair removal, botox and cellulite reduction
  • Professional make-up and makeovers

Who is starting a beauty salon suited to?

Usually, beauty salon owners have a wealth of experience in the beauty industry and are fully-qualified beauty therapists in their own right.

Kim Ford, chairman of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC), an independent industry body, comments: “Generally, the people opening salons are beauty therapists. It’s essential that the person is qualified in this area if they’re going to be delivering treatments themselves.”

Many salon owners will also have management training to enable them to effectively manage the business and their team of staff. But, whether you have management experience or not, beauty therapy know-how really is key if you want to open a beauty salon.

Lorraine Fletcher of Atelier Salon & Spa, Redbourn, says she doesn’t know how someone could run a spa or beauty salon without industry knowledge:

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It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring to start this business idea.

You'll also need to think about registering your business, either as a sole trader or as a company - if a company, then Smarta Formations (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) are an organisation that can help you set up.

“Anyone can start a business in beauty therapy,” she says. “I just don’t know how well you would survive if you’re not experienced enough in the industry to know what you’re doing.”

However, if your background is not in beauty, you don’t necessarily have to rule out the possibility of opening a beauty salon. It is possible to employ a beauty therapist as a day-to-day manager to make up for any shortfalls in specialist knowledge.

Kalpana Gurung of the Himalayan Day Spa, Chiswick has done just that:

“My business partner, who is my aunt, is a beauty therapist; I’m from a management background,” Kalpana explains. “We teamed up and we decided to set up a spa together. I don’t think you need to be from a spa background or beauty therapy background, but it helped a lot that she had experience.”

If you do not have a beauty background, you need to ensure the staff you take on for your beauty salon are sufficiently qualified, as Ford explains. “If you’re going to open a salon and employ someone, it’s essential the therapist you employ is qualified to at least level three in beauty therapy or holistic treatment.”

Beauty therapy expert or not, in order to open a beauty salon you must have unflagging people skills and stamina. Beauty is a service industry so you need to be prepared to put in long hours and settle with very little return for the first year or two.

Depending on how busy your beauty salon or spa is, where your business is situated and how many staff you need to pay, it may take a while before you recoup what is likely to be a hefty initial investment. In other words if you’re considering starting a beauty business, then you really need to love what you do.

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Why start a beauty salon?

Industry analysts claim that beauty salons are continuing to perform well and show strong economic growth. A report published in September 2015 by market research leaders Mintel found that spa, salon and in-store treatments are enjoying strong growth “boosted by new destinations and growing interest”.

The same report also found that cheaper pop-up beauty salon locations are enjoying strong consumer demand. View our guide on how to open a pop-up shop here.

Furthermore a number of recent trends, notably the current expected value growth of the in-salon hair services market can be credited to expensive colour trends and a subsequent focus on hair health. However, a predicted decline in disposable income will mean salons need to prove their value in innovative ways, and reward current clientele to ensure their continued loyalty. Any promotional offers should target younger adults, driven by inspiration from social media. Salons can increase engagement and spend among this age group by crafting packages and tailoring experiences that make them feel special. An increasing number of men seeking specialist health and beauty treatments has provided real benefit to beauty salons up and down the country.

Consumer demand for natural and organic beauty is also on the rise so if you’re looking into how to open a beauty salon or spa, then taking a natural approach could help your business to thrive. Research conducted in 2016 shows that UK shoppers favour transparency and natural ingredients for beauty products and services.

Beauty room ideas

Therefore if you’re looking to open a salon or spa, you could pursue the following beauty salon ideas to make your business stand out among consumers and maximise on recent trends:

  • A men’s beauty salon or spa
  • A beauty salon or spa dedicated to wholly natural and organic products
  • A pop-up beauty salon, in a central location with high footfall

You should also focus on the overall experience you’re going to provide to consumers.

According to a study commissioned by the International Spa Association, the number one reason clients give for visiting a beauty  spa is relaxation and stress relief. So it’s important to realise that beauty salons and spas are about more than good grooming, massages and waxes. For some, they are a kind of modern-day sanctuary.

If you want to open a beauty salon then, as well as providing top-notch beauty treatments, you will have to put effort into making your beauty salon a place people want to go to unwind. You should also be prepared to offer great customer service to make everyone feel welcome at your beauty salon or spa.

You’ll also need to consider insurance for your beauty business. Click here for everything you need to know on beauty therapist insurance.

With top beauty schools and a large talent pool from which to choose staff – as well as steady consumer demand – the UK is a great place to set up a beauty salon or spa.

British beauty therapy standards are recognised as being among the best in the world, too. So, if you’re prepared to put the work in, your spa or beauty salon could really make a name for itself.

Ready to get started? Take a look at the next page for costs to start a beauty salon and day spa.

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