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Starting new Nail Salon (ongoing)
#1
Hi All,
This is going to be an ongoing thread that will chronicle my journey in opening a new nail salon. I will do my best to post as often as possible, and I will try to post all details. I also plan on posting numbers, so anybody here thinking about opening a new salon can get an idea of how much it can cost.

I hope you all find some useful information from my posts, and if you have any constructive thoughts feel free to post. If you want me to expound on anything feel free to ask. I have this thread going on another forum, but thought I would post here too so more people can read.

A lot of planning has been going on, and a ton of research to find trends in existing salons. We pulled 35 different salons to visit for the sole purpose of recognizing trends. We used salons that are on the low end of the profit spectrum, as well as salons in the mid range, and high range.

We tried to recognize trends in reception service, layout, services provided, customer service, number of stations, and were always on the look out for other visible trends.

I think the most successful trend we realized is the number of spa chairs. Filling a space with a ton of spa chairs will not make a successful salon, but averages did speak to us. We found low end salons averaged 6.25ish spa chairs, mid range averaged 7.5ish, and the high averaged 11. We did walk into some low end salons that had 10 chairs, so obviously we cant base everything off of the number of spa chairs. But either way I felt satisfied with the way the averages were.

Reception service really didn't have any trends related to success. We found that reception service just isn't very good throughout.

Customer service is a huge area to explain so I will keep it to quality of service. Quality of service didn't seem to differ much from a low end to a high end. In some cases low end salons did better work. I'm sure a lot of techs will disagree with that, especially techs that work in salons that charge quite a bit. But there is a lot more that gets customers into expensive salons, the work completed is just a by-product.

Services provided is pretty universal, and I won't go into detail on it.

We didn't really notice any trends in the number of manicure stations. But it seems that the better salons are starting to install nail bars. Our salon will definitely have a nail bar simply for the look/atmosphere.

Differences in layout were pretty obvious. The low end salons, and most mid level kept it basic. Walk in, reception in middle or off to side, then one side is pedispas, the other is manicure stations. back is waxing, and whatever. We plan to combat that simplicity by getting a larger building than we require. That should leave plenty of space to be creative. Sure our rent will be higher, but that's ok.

Keep reading here I'll post more, if you have something to add please do. But let's keep it constructive, and not fill it up with junk.
The first step we took in getting the salon moving was to open an LLC. It was extremely simple to do here. All we did was go to our states corporation commissions website and download the necessary forms. After completing the forms you can mail them in, or do like we did and hand them over in person. It is $85 to expedite the process, and 50 for normal processing time. We chose to expedite the process simply because we have quite a bit to do in a short period of time.

We have also contacted a commercial broker to help us in our search for a location. Location is arguably the most important part of running a successful salon. This is an area that I am heavily involved in right now. And most of what has been done is no thanks to our broker. Any locations that have been in our criteria have been found by me. This is a huge part of starting a salon so ensure you understand what your doing, or use a good brokerage. Understanding demographics is pretty easy if you study the demographics around existing salons. I have done that with quite a few existing salons, and ended up with some pretty good demographic requirements.

There are several ways to find commercial property. Loopnet is probably the best source for retail properties, but it is pretty expensive. I'm paying $90 a month to use it, but it has put me in contact with several potential locations. Use a broker they can set you up with searches, contact listing agents, and negotiate for you. But they are a pain in the you know what to deal with. Hell I've had more success from craigslist than I have with my broker.

The search for a great location is still on.


Contacted a few suppliers and found that ordering in bulk will usually save you 10%. But I'm going to keep working on getting prices down for quality equipment. If anyone has any spa chair, or manicure table recommendations feel free to shoot them over.

Ventilation
In an effort to stay ahead of laws we are working on finding a way to get source capture ventilation systems added to all manicure, and pedicure stations. Doing that in a cost effective way is the problem so far. Aerovexsystems have some effective systems, but again expensive. I'm planning to contact some Hvac contractors to see how much it would be to install a custom system.

I am yet to find a salon that has even a decent ventilation system (most have none/limited). If we are able to implement the idea then it should be a great marketing angle.
 Reply
#2
Good for you. Where are you located? I'll keep reading!
NY Licensed Nail + Waxing Tech
Owner/Developer Suite Tee
http://www.Facebook.com/TashawnaH
Instagram: @SuiteTee
 Reply
#3
I am building out my salon right now. I would be thrilled to discuss with you!

I just ordered my Continuum pedispas a couple of weeks ago. I found a vendor in CA that was running a deal on them - about $800 less each than anyone else. We will have 9.

I have seen a lot of nail bars and while I love the look, I hate them in terms of practicality and comfort. It is just not a good experience, IMO, to sit in a bar chair for what is supposed to be a relaxing service. And if you think of anyone who is heavier, stools are definitely not comfortable, and they are also more difficult for anyone with any physcial restrictions to get into and to be comfortable. There is also not as much room for materials - and a huge pet peeve of mine is when everything sits out on a mani table. I hate looking at all of those jars and bottles it looks sloppy to me. We are only doing natural nails - I can't imagine doing acrylics on a nail bar...

I felt the same with bench pedispas, BTW - love the look, but they just are not comfortable to sit in.

Budget --- well this can be anything depending on what materials you use and what you have to do to buildout. I will just say it's not cheap - ping me if you want to discuss specifics.
 Reply
#4
(04-10-2013, 11:43 AM)Tashawna Wrote: Good for you. Where are you located? I'll keep reading!

We're in Arizona, and glad to see you plan on following along. Feel free to ask as questions, or comment as much as you want.

(04-10-2013, 12:45 PM)plumgirl Wrote: I am building out my salon right now. I would be thrilled to discuss with you!

I just ordered my Continuum pedispas a couple of weeks ago. I found a vendor in CA that was running a deal on them - about $800 less each than anyone else. We will have 9.

I have seen a lot of nail bars and while I love the look, I hate them in terms of practicality and comfort. It is just not a good experience, IMO, to sit in a bar chair for what is supposed to be a relaxing service. And if you think of anyone who is heavier, stools are definitely not comfortable, and they are also more difficult for anyone with any physcial restrictions to get into and to be comfortable. There is also not as much room for materials - and a huge pet peeve of mine is when everything sits out on a mani table. I hate looking at all of those jars and bottles it looks sloppy to me. We are only doing natural nails - I can't imagine doing acrylics on a nail bar...

I felt the same with bench pedispas, BTW - love the look, but they just are not comfortable to sit in.

Budget --- well this can be anything depending on what materials you use and what you have to do to buildout. I will just say it's not cheap - ping me if you want to discuss specifics.

Congrats on the salon!

I think we've narrowed down to the T4 chairs, but we're yet to fully decide. I can say the Maestro is out of our budget. We plan on 10 pedispas to start.

We really have to work out how we will use the nail bar, but for most services I expect we will rely on our standard manicure stations. As for comfort I do think it will be a challenge to find a chic looking barstool that offers comfort. Still trying to decide between the height of our bar as well. 42" just seems a bit high and may complicate our techs ability to work long hours.

Because we are yet to lock down a final draft of our materials/equipment it's hard to say what the total cost will be. I expect it to run around 100k for our ideas, but it wouldn't surprise me if we shot over that. I'll shoot you a private message to discuss more details.
 Reply
#5
Congratulations! I will stay updated on your post. You have some great ideas going, can't wait to see how everything works out!
 Reply
#6
If you're interested in an even wider audience, Nails Magazine online has the Blog Blueprints of a First Year for new salon owners to blog, with pictures. There's a link on the blog for you to contact them to let them know you're available. I think they just really ask that you blog at least twice a month.
Candice
Nail Tech/Owner
http://www.PanacheNailStudio.com
 Reply
#7
i would really love to see how you set up a nail salon! iam about to open a small salon (i'm going to work on my own) but i really need as many info as i can get!i'm concerned about the pedicure space .o want to build a station with a sink.i don't know how i could put the pedi stool in order to save bending in front.any help?also could you post pictures during the prosess?i also would like to know the link for the nails magazine blog!
 Reply
#8
Blueprints blog:

http://blogs.nailsmag.com/blueprint/
Candice
Nail Tech/Owner
http://www.PanacheNailStudio.com
 Reply
#9
(04-17-2013, 11:16 AM)CandiceAE Wrote: If you're interested in an even wider audience, Nails Magazine online has the Blog Blueprints of a First Year for new salon owners to blog, with pictures. There's a link on the blog for you to contact them to let them know you're available. I think they just really ask that you blog at least twice a month.

I may look into that when we get a space locked up, but right now it's a lot of boring searching for a spot. And I'm not sure how they will feel about the price details I am looking to post on here. While I haven't read every blog post, I'm yet to see any that detail what it takes financially to open a salon.

I think this is the same Candice, but I'm not sure. If so I loved this in your first post on nailsmag. "I'd better succeed or I'll be failing very publicly."

(04-17-2013, 03:42 PM)tsita78 Wrote: i would really love to see how you set up a nail salon! iam about to open a small salon (i'm going to work on my own) but i really need as many info as i can get!i'm concerned about the pedicure space .o want to build a station with a sink.i don't know how i could put the pedi stool in order to save bending in front.any help?also could you post pictures during the prosess?i also would like to know the link for the nails magazine blog!

You will definitely get to see how I set up the nail salon, but you will have to hang around long enough to see that. I'm still looking for a space, and while we have ideas of the layout it will be restricted to the space available. If possible I will post pics here, and if not I will start a website and you can see them all there. We are not looking to open a small salon though. It is planned to start with 10 spa chairs. Sorry, but I don't really understand your pedicure space question.

This will be a quick update on progress made since my last post. We have narrowed down our equipment list, but I won't disclose all of that until we are ready to purchase. Simply because it's not set in stone yet. I've been busy looking for a retail space and have a list of about 8 potential locations. But I'm not fully satisfied with what we are looking at. I'm still looking for new places, and I'll continue until we find "the spot", or I get sick of the frustrations and settle on one from the current list. That is a very real possibility because I am not all that patient, and I am already very frustrated with the process.

I found a perfect spot that was close to the size that we are looking for. Turns out the area has businesses moving locations, and the space they show available isn't really available. All they had left was some space with no visibility, and that's something that I view as a must have.

I also want to thank plumgirl who provided some great information.
 Reply
#10
Yes, I am THAT Candice lol. They pretty much let you blog whatever you want - I did a few with numbers, but more as percentages and big picture stuff. I think they would be thrilled to get someone to post very specific number details!
Candice
Nail Tech/Owner
http://www.PanacheNailStudio.com
 Reply
#11
Well it’s been a long while since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that. But I finally have something worthwhile to report on. We have settled on a property to present an offer on. We have noticed this property for quite sometime, but we were trying to hang in there and wait for the perfect property. While that didn’t happen we are happy with this property, and it is a good place. It’s next to a franchise spa, and a pretty cool hair salon. While we have flexibility on the size we want, it looks like we will go smaller than we originally planned on. The space is 1300sf, but we haven’t dropped the offer so it’s possible that we do increase it over the next couple days. We can get away with the 1300sf simply because the width leaves us room to be creative.

Obviously negotiations are upcoming, but it looks like we will lock in at $30 psf (per square foot) + NNN charges which I estimate to be around $7 psf. The good news is we should be able to get $40 psf in tenant improvement dollars. That’s a bit more than I expected so I’m very happy with it.

I meet with a contractor tomorrow to go over a rough idea that he sketched out for us. Once I get a bid I’ll update and you’ll get to follow along to see how a rough bid turns into a built out salon. But this rough sketch is unlikely to be the final layout. It will be used to get a good bid put together to help support the $40 psf in tenant improvement dollars. We shouldn’t have any problems getting the offer approved according to my agent.

I expect to be very busy over the next 4 months getting this salon going. This is the crunch time I’ve been looking forward to, and as long as I’m diligent this forum post should see a lot more action from me. Oh all of that depends on whether or not the offer goes through.

I’m headed to Vegas this weekend for a beauty convention. If all goes as planned I’ll have an offer presented this week, and I’m hoping we get a response when I’m home next week. If there are any details you want to know about feel free to ask.
 Reply
#12
Hope to see you at IBS Las Vegas.
Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. (yes, it's real)
http://www.precisionnails.com
http://shop.precisionnails.com
 Reply
#13
Congratulation !

Wow that's great nail salon, keep me posted on your latest updates.
 Reply
#14
Well Vegas wasn’t very kind to me, but we did come away with some decent stuff from IBS. And while my pockets were empty I was fortunate enough to leave with a giant sized hangover.

We did receive a counter offer on the space we’re hoping to land, and I must say I’m very happy with the way it’s progressing. It’s a good thing the listing agent on the space doesn’t read this forum, because it looks like we are getting more than I anticipated. We are closer to $50psf for tenant improvement dollars, and under $30psf+NNN for the lease. Oh and the NNN charges appear to be a bit lower than I initially thought, somewhere in the $4.50psf range. This space will be delivered as a grey shell.

Right before we submitted the offer on this property our agent sent us over an A+++ location to look at. It is on one of the top corners in Scottsdale, and would be a great location for the beauty industry. The problem is the current layout isn’t very good, and that made my Girlfriend say no. But of course money can make the layout work, and I plan to make it work if we somehow don’t land the location that we’re negotiating on.
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#15
I forgot to add that we submitted for 1,600sf instead of the 1,300sf. I know it's still a bit smaller than we originally wanted, but it's enough space to have the layout we want while avoiding a cluttered look.

The very rough estimate to take the space from a grey shell to build out is $74.02psf. Of course we still need to get our final drawings done (pending lease approval), and get a couple more bids for the work. But $75psf is pretty close to what we expect.
 Reply
#16
Levig,
How are things going?
 Reply

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