No one doubts it has been tough on the high street in the past few years, but one area that held up remarkably strongly is beauty treatments, with male grooming in particular doing well.

But how should salons go about extending into this potentially lucrative market?

Tiffany Tarrant, development manager at sector skills organisation Habia, explains how to get started.

In the current difficult economic climate, one way for salon owners to boost clientele, and something more and more hairdressing salons are now offering, is beauty and nail services.

Yet adding a beauty therapy element to your business is not easy. First, there is the cost. Even a relatively basic beauty salon or treatment room could cost a minimum of £20,000. To do it properly you’ll probably be looking at a budget of between £30,000 to £50,000 or more.

However, bear in mind that you do not necessarily need to open your own beauty salon from scratch. Simply offering beauty treatments from a room or workspace within your salon can be a start, although you will still need a realistic budget.

If you do want to offer an inclusive hair and beauty service under one roof, here are six checklists to be ticking off:

  1. Decide on the level of equipment you will be offering
    This will of course depend on the treatments. The absolute minimum should include a good quality couch, trolley, therapist’s stool, mag lamp, waxing equipment, sterilisation unit, bins, and tools specific to the offer (for instance, micro-dermabrasion, body facial electrical therapies, epilation). If you are offering nail services you will need nail desks, extraction fans and filters.
  2. Ensure your staff are fully trained and qualified
    It is imperative to ensure you have qualified staff to perform the treatments. If you are finding it difficult to source full-time beauty therapy staff, consider recently qualified beauty students looking to make a start, freelancers after a more permanent base, or people looking to return to work after a break (for instance, for childcare).
  3. Look at the possibility of contracting out
    You may want to contract out your beauty services. Plenty of salons use this arrangement and find it useful, but make sure you have a comprehensive contract that is legally binding and covers as many eventualities as possible, including holidays and times of service. Even freelance staff are covered by employment law legislation.
  4. Make health and safety a priority
    There is some crossover between hair and beauty in terms of the proper storage and use of chemicals, sterilising equipment and working with water and electrical tools. However, beauty and nails have their own particular issues that need to be taken into account. Likewise, nails and waxing have their own codes of practice that need to be followed. The NHF is able to offer guidance on this.
  5. Consider what services will go down best in your area
    Research what is available in your area and see if there is a gap that isn’t being filled. Comprehensive or “holistic” packages that that involve hair treatments, manicures, pedicures and make-up are also now popular with clients looking for a pampering experience.
    You also need to ensure you are offering a range of realistic appointment times (including lunchtimes, evenings and so on) and using good scheduling and appointment booking software if you don’t do so already. Juggling clients who are coming in for two or three treatments or group bookings can be challenging.
  6. Have a promotional or marketing strategy
    To get clients, especially at first, you will probably need to consider promotions. Common offers are 12 treatments for the price of 10 or discounts on your beauty treatments for those booking certain hair treatments (colouring for instance).
    Other options might be offering discounts for group bookings or seasonal offers. Make sure you update promotional materials or public relations to reflect what is happening in your salon in terms of new treatments. Likewise special events, celebrations, charity and community events are always useful to piggyback on to generate some free publicity in your local press.

If you read nothing else, read this…

  • Don’t expect establishing a beauty therapy offer to be cheap, £20,000-£50,000 is not unusual
  • Research the level of service that will fit the local demand
  • Look at the feasibility of renting out space or a room
  • Ensure staff are fully trained and qualified and that all health and safety boxes have been ticked
  • Think carefully about your promotional and marketing strategy

Tiffany Tarrant, development at Habia