The Ins and Outs of Owning a Boutique Salon
So you want to go out on your own, but can’t afford to open your own salon. No problem, a salon studio, like Sola Salon Studios, might be the place for you. YOU get to be the boss and make all the decisions, including setting your own schedule, picking what products to carry and decorating the space to fit your personal style. Sounds pretty good, right? But how do you successfully make it in a salon suite? We reached out to six successful Sola Salon Studios owners to find out just how they made the transition from a commissioned salon environment to a studio, and what they did to make their businesses thrive.
From a Salon to Studio
“For the first eight years of my career, prior to my move to Sola, I worked at a 100 percent commission-based salon,” says Ayla Davis. The same was true for Alyssa Cruce, John Vendetti, Serena Miller and Chantel Excell. Stylist and Sola owner, Joy Love started out as a booth renter.
Making the Transition
The idea of independence and freedom can be an enticing idea when it comes to owning your own suite. “I decided to make the transition to Sola because I have always wanted to own my own salon. Almost six years into my career, I was ready to take the next step, but I wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of traditional ownership and managing employees. A boutique salon at Sola was the perfect next step for me,” claims Alyssa. Likewise, Serena and Chantel, who had been working in a traditional salon environment for more than 5 years, felt it was the right time to venture out and start their own business. “Sola seemed like the perfect environment for our guests and for us,” they said. For Joy, the transition to owning her own place came sooner than expected. “I always knew I would own my own salon, but didn’t think it would be so soon. When I first visited Sola, I knew THIS is what I needed to do!”
Overcoming Your Fears
One of the reasons so many stylists with dreams of owning their own salon get nervous about making the big move is the fear of responsibility. “At my previous salon I had receptionists and people who did all the scheduling, inventory, laundry, advertising, accounting, etc. By accepting the move to Sola, I was going to have to manage my time better not only as a stylist, but as a “receptionist” and salon-owner,” says Ayla. Running your own studio is a big responsibility—you are solely responsible for handling daily tasks. “I was also a little afraid that my clients wouldn’t follow me,” shares Alyssa. “Well, my clients did follow me and they loved my new salon! And after setting a few boundaries for myself, I never felt overwhelmed because I gave myself a schedule I could stick to.” So how do you overcome the fear of being on your own, while maintaining your clients? “Believe in yourself and your talents, and feel confident that you’re creating an awesome space for them to relax and enjoy their services,” suggests John.
Sola Makes the Transition Painless
According to Chantel and Serena, Sola allowed them to gradually move into their studio to ease some of the stress. What else does Sola offer to help with the move? “Sola made it very easy for me by helping with a lot of the legal processes, such as obtaining licenses and permits, as well as the initial decorating phase. They supplied the station, chair and shampoo bowl, as well as helped with the painting and installing my adorable chandelier,” says Ayla. From the moment you sign the lease, Sola provides you with a binder full of all the answers to any and all questions you may have regarding the start-up process. Pretty sweet, right?! “At my Sola location, new owners are offered complimentary rent for a few weeks while your clients are transitioning, as well as a retail credit to help build up your inventory,” shares Alyssa.
Marketing Your Services in a Studio
Without a personal storefront, it can be tricky to market your services to new clients. So Ayla turned to technology and social media to draw potential clients into her salon. “I keep a large social media presence through Yelp, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I offer text, phone and email confirmation services as well as online appointment scheduling. I’m easily accessible by Facebook, email and text message, which my clients utilize when they need to get ahold of me.” Alyssa found that her clients love the privacy and one-on-one experience they get from her studio. “On my website, I really paint a picture of the type of experience I’m able to offer,” she says. John markets himself in several unique ways: “First, I never go anywhere without my business cards, and I hand them out at every opportunity. Second, I offer a referral program that rewards existing clients for referring new clients to the Salon. Third, I strive to maintain a strong online presence through my website www.vendettissalon.com, and social media.” And let’s not forget that every client that walks out of your studio is a walking advertisement for your business. According to Joy, word of mouth is powerful! “I ask every one of my clients to refer me to their friends. In exchange, I give them a discount when their referral shows up.”
Retaining Your Clients, and Obtaining New Ones
If you’re thinking of making the move, the first thing to consider is if your current clients are likely to follow you. “Anytime you move salons, there’s always a fear of losing some of your guests,” shares Serena and Chantel. “But after talking with them, they felt like a part of the transition, which helped us to retain the majority of our guests, only losing 10 percent or less.” John was lucky to have the majority of his clients follow him to his studio. “I feel beyond fortunate to say that the bulk of my clients did follow me. However, I have never stopped reaching out to potential new clients and the response has been amazing! In fact, my business has grown more than ever before in the last year and a half that I have been open,” shares John. So how can you retain your clients? “Prior to my leave, I had purchased a booking system and began pre-booking people for their next appointment as soon as possible. I also offered all returning clients 20% off their first visit as a ‘Thank You’ for their loyalty and for any inconvenience that they may have experienced because of my move,” comments Ayla. “I also urged my regular clients to leave me reviews on my new Yelp page. I currently have 23 5-star reviews, which continues to bring me new business every day. Word-of-mouth, happy clients and compliments have always been the best advertisement!”
The Business of Retail
Owning your own boutique salon at Sola gives you the freedom to carry the brands you want, so you retail the products you use and love. “I have always been a strong retail stylist, but when I came to Sola, I was so excited to handpick the products I would be using and recommending to my clients,” shares Alyssa. “My clients seem to be more open and interested in retail because they trust me and know that anything I offer them is something that I’m truly passionate about because I picked it! Because of this, my retail sales are higher than ever!” John educates his clients on the products used during their service and lets them know how the products will benefit them. “I can now offer product lines that I believe in 100 percent…and, yes, keep the profits for myself!”
The Best Part of Owning Your Own Studio
“My favorite thing about having my own salon studio, has been the freedom of working as much or as little as I want, shares Alyssa. “ I can really cater to my clientele and be available when they need me, and take a day off when they don’t! It also allows me to do the other things in the beauty industry that I love like education, travel and freelance work.” Similarly, John shares how much he enjoys being in control of how much time he can allot to each client. “I am so much calmer and creative these days, and my clients notice and appreciate it!”
Thinking of Making the Switch…Listen Up!
“Owning a business is a lot of work. I work twice as hard now as I ever have before, but the reward is so worth it,” shares Ayla. “I love being my own boss, there’s nothing better. I recommend Sola Salon Studios to any stylist with a solid clientele, ambition and good management skills.” Alyssa adds, “Your clients WILL follow and new clients will see how happy and passionate you are and want to be a part of that.” Despite Sola handing you all the tools you need to get started, to be successful, there are certain things YOU, the owner, needs to be responsible for. “I always say, its one thing to get someone to sit in your chair, it’s another thing to keep them there,” notes Joy. “It takes work and persistence to fill your book. You can’t depend on someone else to do it for you. I highly recommend if you don’t have your own clientele, you build your client list before going out on your own.”
If you’re looking for the freedom that owning your own boutique salon can offer, then consider the advice from these successful studio owners. Owning anything and being successful at it takes a lot of hard work, but the benefits of being able to choose your own hours, decorate your space and sell the products you believe in, make the work more than worth it.