11 Must-Know Tips For Suite Renters
Ahh, the suite life…you get to own your own business, call your own shots and make your own money. All that independence can be pretty awesome—and sometimes, pretty daunting. Here are 11 tips that cover the suite renting spectrum, from financial considerations to filling your chair.
1. Get Your Finances Right
When you’re the one in charge, keeping track of money becomes even more important. @doesnt_kara has been a booth renter for more than 10 years. Her advice? “I put down 50 percent of my earnings into savings for taxes, unforeseen costs and rent for when I take time off,” she says.
And chase down every opportunity you have to save a buck. Look into rebate programs, point programs…anything you can take advantage of to save money. “Ask your bank if they offer a small business point-of-sale program,” advises @xscarletstarletx. Adds @racheldaytonstylist, “Buy from your distributor—you may pay shipping, but you get points or rewards toward free product and more.”
And the top financial advice everyone stressed? Get a good accountant. “Ask around your suites—someone can give you a recommendation for an accountant that knows our business,” says @racheldaytonstylist.
2. Keep Track Of Receipts
That accountant you found? She’ll tell you the same thing—itemize, itemize, itemize! Your business-related expenses, like rent, backbar products, smocks, business cards (basically anything you use to keep your business running) can be itemized. “If you use a room in your house as an office, or if you use your cell phone as your business line, then talk with your accountant about writing off a portion of your mortgage or residential rent, as well as a portion of your cell phone bill as business deductions, says Judiffier Pearson, author of “To Rent or Not To Rent.”
And don’t forget that business-related educational expenses, like trade shows, can be deducted too, including travel, lodging, registration and meals. Every little bit helps!
3. Be Smart About Your Lease Agreement
Another thing you need when you set off on your own? A lawyer. And get that lawyer to look over your lease agreement carefully. What’s included in the lease varies by where and from whom you choose to rent. Some things to consider:
What equipment is included in the lease?
How much freedom do you have when it comes to painting, installing wall shelves, etc.?
Who is responsible for purchasing liability insurance?
How are repairs and updates to the space handled?
Does the agreement include utilities and internet access, or are you responsible for paying those?
4. Don’t Skip This No-Brainer…
Obviously you should be using Instagram to market yourself. If you aren’t already, you should start now before it’s too late. Need some inspiration? Check out 10 things you should be doing on Instagram right now, Instagram tips to get you noticed and how to use Instagram to make more money.
5. …But Social Media Isn’t The Only Way To Network
Especially when you’re just starting the suite life, it’s crucial to get your name out in your community. Social media will help majorly, but there are a lot of IRL opportunities for you to market yourself, too! “Become active in your area to get new clients,” suggests @racheldaytonstylist.
So how do you do that? Introduce yourself at your local coffee shops and restaurants, volunteer to do hair for a good cause at a community event or even partner with other businesses (or other suite owners) to do local promotions. Brian Durocher, founder of Durocher Enterprises, a salon coaching firm, recommends joining at least one networking group, like your Chamber of Commerce or local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. And if you do something cool, you should brag about it! Send a press release (or even a simple Facebook message) to your local reporter and let them know about events you are participating in.
6. Increase Client Visits = Increase $$$
Who better to give business advice than Robert Cromeans? According to him, frequency of visit is EVERYTHING. “Increasing the number of times a client comes to the salon is better than an upgrade, better than a take-home sale, better than adding new clients,” Robert declares. “You don’t need thousands of clients. If you have 200 clients coming in seven or eight times a year, you’ll have a beautiful business.”
Need an idea? One way is with “Treat Receipts”—give her a voucher good for a discounted blow-dry service if she returns within a month. When you give her the Treat Receipt, schedule that blow-dry right when she’s sitting in your chair. And simple language will be even more convincing in getting her to come back, Robert says. For example, the word “because” personalizes the situation and focuses the interaction on your client’s specific needs, and that makes your recommendations irresistible. As in, “Because you’re getting married in three months, I’ll need to see you every six weeks before the wedding to get your color where we want it to be.”
7. Always, ALWAYS Prebook
Any business guru will tell you that prebooking is super important. Jane Pachura from MBS Salon in Danville, Calif. thinks “ahead,” literally. “I take the time to reschedule my client’s appointments for the whole year, especially if they frequent the salon every six weeks,” explains Jane. “I book them every six weeks at their preferred time and day until the end of the year, and I give them the list of their appointments to mark on their calendars. This enables them to work any other appointments around their hair schedule. They rarely have to change appointments with me. They view this as me taking extra special care of them and they appreciate it!”
8. Keep Your Retail Game Up
Being a suite renter means you get to be the sole decider in what retail products you offer. But don’t try to sell everything under the sun. Customers may get confused if you have one or two products on the shelf made by all different brands. “If you decide to partner with a brand, research their systems, and have the company guide you in how to merchandise and make the product look amazing,” says Kim Bennett Horvarth, who has owned and operated her Sola Salon Studios business, Kim Bennett Studios in Denver, for more than a decade.
It’s important to have an aesthetically pleasing retail shelf, so if you have a few brands, separate them on your display shelves. It’s also important to keep a higher inventory than you need. Notes Kim, “Customers actually say, ‘I don’t want to take your last one.’ Never assume what a guest needs…some of my guests like to buy two or three at a time—for travel, second home, gym bag or they just don’t ever want to run out of their favorites.”
Selling retail can seem hard, but there are so many great tricks for enticing clients to buy. Let your client smell the shampoo you’re using and explain why you chose that specific shampoo for her hair. Dispense styling product into her hands and show her exactly how to apply it. Another great tip from Robert—ask, “What are you almost out of?” This isn’t a yes-or-no question and prompts the client to really think about her needs, opening the door to a productive conversation about retail.
9. Automate What You Can
As a business owner, you’re going to be busy. So make smart choices that can automate your tasks for you. The salon software you choose is a major part of this. “Save yourself some time and get a scheduling system that does text reminders for your clients so you don’t have to be a receptionist too,” says @racheldaytonstylist. Adds @mrsmiag, “I’d recommend using a towel service. Otherwise you are washing and folding towels all the time, and it gets in the way of making that money!”
10. Adjust Your Schedule
The beauty of being your own boss? You get to set your own schedule! So pay attention to when your clients want appointments and adjust your schedule to concentrate the workflow. Eric Fisher, best-selling author and owner of two Wichita, Kan., salons and an academy suggests studying your work week for heavy and slow periods, then streamlining your schedule accordingly. If you’re not busy on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon, but you’re jumping in the evenings, then trade in a day or two for the night shift. Also, remember that Sundays can be very profitable.
11. Offer Something That Sets You Apart
You went into suite rental because you wanted to do your own thing—so use your freedom to set yourself apart from other hairdressers! Kim lets her clients choose the music she plays and makes sure to have clients’ favorite beverages on hand. “I have one client who won’t drink anything unless it’s out of a straw,” she says. “So I bought a box of straws for $1.99 and that meant so much to her!”
If you’re in a building with many other service providers, offer to take new clients on a tour. Kim says she introduces clients to her neighbors’ suites who offer massages, skincare, nails and brows. “The more services my clients can receive in one place, the more likely they will be to come back again,” she adds.