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Full Version: New Salon + New Owner = Success or Disaster??
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Scenario: Working for an owner who has no prior business experience. Owner is a non-practicing beauty professional with a background in skin care.

This is a new business venture. I would be hired as a manager. While I have not held the title "salon manager" prior, I have a few years experience performing various managerial tasks in a previous salon.

The salon is in a residential area, demographics are a mix of low and mid income families. There is no competition in a 8 mile radius, and lots of foot traffic. Therefore, there is an opportunity for the salon to be very successful. There will be 6 stations, nails only services. While I see this as a great opportunity to gain more managerial experience under my belt in a new salon, I am a little apprehensive.

My main concern: working for an owner with no prior business experience. There are pros and cons I know, but I want to be smart about this. The owner is willing to offer a generous salary, but we all know that all money ain't good money. I don't want to get caught up working 24/7 because the owner doesn't feel the need to be there on a regular basis because that's what I was hired for.

Would any of you accept a position working with an owner with no prior business experience? Any suggestions or advice is appreciated.

Thanks for your take on this everyone. I appreciate it.

I just accepted a job with owners that have no experience. I can relate as to how scary it is. At times, I often know more than them and that is equally scary since I'm just new to the industry. But, I'm taking it in stride, trying to be positive and looking to the future. I feel this is a good opportunity for you because you can help guide them and also build on your own experience. Look at the pro's and the con's. Does one or the other outweigh itself? Do you have anything to lose? You say it's good money so there is something you don't need to worry about, right?

Make sure you get your responsibilities in writing so you know what you are getting in to.
When you say no business experience do you mean NO BUSINESS EXPERIENCE? Or no salon experience? It wouldn't make me comfortable if they have no business experience. But if they have good "other" experience, I'd be okay with that.
If you decide to go with them, just make sure you don't end up basically being an owner without the glory. If the salon is successful and you find you're doing all the work then a conversation needs to be had about you having a piece of the pie because it takes more than an investment to run a good business. On the other hand if they don't do well and you've had a decent portion of the you can be thrown under the bus for that.
As a new salon owner with no salon experience, I have a lot of opinions on this topic Smile

The first thing you need to clarify is what exactly is expected of you. As a salon manager, will you be providing services also, or managing the salon only? Will you hire-fire, order products and equipment, have responsibility for profit-loss, have a bonus structure related to profit-loss, etc. Will you be responsible for marketing or is there a marketing plan in place? Has she picked the POS, or will that be up to you? Has she shared any financial data with you, at least sales projections?

I have been in the business world for almost 20 years as a marketing executive. I have a very comprehensive business plan and have worked with a CPA on financial planning. We have an in-depth marketing plan, and a fully researched SWOT analysis. I know my key demographic and have conducted multiple surveys for input on services and offerings. On top of the business side of things, I have been working with a very experienced nail tech for about 8 months learning everything I can about the industry. She has helped test products, reviewed my menu, and answered a million random questions about every aspect of the business. I have also done a ton of my own industry research - there is literally not a blog, website, or board about nails that I have not read.

My plan is to hire a team leader for my salon. I will handle the business aspect and she will perform services and also act as a mentor and trainer to the other techs. I will hire/fire, under her advice, and will work with her to tweak and perfect all of our services all of our service-related procedures and process, while I will handle the back-office and financials (things like the POS system, dealing with vendors, paying bills, etc). She will not be the primary person to order inventory or manage the books or bookings, but she will assist and will know how to do these things. She will handle vacation requests for techs, and inventory for products and equipment. She will also have a bonus plan based on overall profitability of the salon. Basically, my business acumen will be complemented by her hands-on experience, but I will be the ultimate decision-maker.

I know this does not answer your question, but I hope it demonstrates some of the things you need to consider.
Thank you all for replying to this post.

Plumgirl - you are on point honey. I am a Communications Major and have a marketing background as well. I currently work full-time with a consulting firm, and while I want to transition into the nail world full time, this opportunity left me with tons of questions.

I asked the same questions you did. The owner does not have any business experience and wants me to manage the salon and service clients. As a full-time student, with small children, I don't know realistically how much time the owner will be spent at the salon. I do not know if I will be responsible for ordering supplies, hiring/firing staff, conducting staff meetings or any other day to day operations.

I have not see the marketing plan, not even sure one exists. When I asked about marketing strategies, the responses were not detailed, which led me to believe things have not been very well thought out. I was asked to assist with these items, which led me believe my assumptions were correct. I know that all marketing research and a thorough SWOT analysis must be conducted prior to opening. It is believed that because the salon will be in an area where there is no competition, it will be successful. While that may be true, you still have to do a thorough analysis. After reviewing all the pros and cons, I was able to assess the situation and make a decision.

Thanks again ladies!


It does sound like a good opportunity - and if she has no business experience and won't really be involved in much, then you would be in a position to be invaluable to her. However, if she's not involved in the day to day running of things, just basically the purse and figure-head - it would be really important to know the financial situation, and whether she might balk at what good products cost, good tools, marketing, paying techs... The one salon I booth rented in, and from what I've heard from other techs and cosmos - salon owners sometimes just look at the bottom line and aren't willing to invest in a solid foundation.
I did once and it was not good
but... I have worked for several licensed, experienced owners who drove the business into the ground, petit tyrants and bad salon situation (physical conditions in salon) and little attention to or concept of customer relations. Eventually the renters leave then the owner blames someone... every one but the person at fault...

I suspect the most important condition is common sense in juggling the aspects of environment (meeting board health codes, clean air*, comfort, lighting), seeing the workers meet the responsibilities to the customers and each other (doing their share of cleaning, refrigerator, controlling behavior of visiting family and children, keeping friction (and stealing) under control), being inviting to clients but not letting advantage taking or misbehaving clients run wild or rule the roost... then there is physical safety of the salon and clients, lighted parking, security at night. If you are in a good location at least you don't have the problem of drawing people in.
You are smart to set out exactly what is expected of you... what they will handle and what you will handle... those things can grow exponentially... I see our owners coming at all off hours for repairs, etc....

I suspect, with a manager who has salon experience, an owner with common sense could make a good team
if you have good communication with them, tell them what and why, and they with you... you could work out anything that arises.

Good fortune to you, if you decide to do it

* have 2 coworkers currently using an acrylic so volatile we have to run the air conditioner at max to keep us all from coughing and the clients from complaining... we have low supervision owners, they are not interfering in our work (a good thing, I have worked for owners who showed their control by making us jump through hoops at every turn and liked to create difficulties), but they also do not stop kids from running wild (getting behind the stations, spinning hair cutting chairs, throwing polish bottles... sigh), dogs brought in, loud video games... one client tested her pepper spray in the salon... her manicurist (an owner) ran outside instead of alerting us and turning on the air... I love them but after years of some tyrants, I wish sometimes they were a bit more ;-)
I would be hearing alarm bells as well and be thinking I would be doing 3 jobs for the pay of 1 especially as she has no business experience and isn't going to be around. Before going any further I would want a written job description, see whether it seems realistic for the title for Salon Manager or whether some of the tasks would need to passed to Business Owner or Supervisor etc.On the positive side, it sounds like a great opportunity. I know a lady who has business experience but non in beauty and she took over a salon in a hotel and she's done really well. She is more like an overall manager with a team supervisor and then therapists plus she has done loads of industry research as well.