Opening up a nail salon: Top tips for success

Opening a nail salon can be an incredibly rewarding and profitable business enterprise. The UK beauty industry is huge and thriving, and nail services are expanding in both design and popularity. The simple manicure has grown into a sophisticated work of art in recent years. Talons with show-stopping and elaborate designs have astonished Instagram users, and “next-level manicures” are presently ruling the market.

Moreover, gender-inclusive nail products have recently launched to great success, such as Pleasing from the singer Harry Styles. In fact, according to statistics, there has been a huge spike in the amount of men who wear nail polish, with a 457% increase in searches for “male manicures”, according to Glamour Magazine. With higher numbers of prospective customers than ever before, professional nail services can profit considerably.

However, there are a few considerations to make before opening your own store. From the fundamentals, such as insurance and licensing, to more creative options like branding and creating an online presence, this article will give you some top tips to help you start a successful nail salon business.

Nail your business plan

How can you ensure your business prospers when so many others fail? The beauty industry is highly competitive, and a risky area to enter without due diligence. Therefore, you should answer this question in a well-researched business plan before advancing. A non-negotiable tool for success, this gives an outline of your objectives, forecasts, and how you plan to make profit. It’s especially important if you want to seek investment or a loan from a bank, as well as attract senior management, a business partner, or financial expertise.

Most importantly, this document should help you understand your business yourself. It should track your progress, aspirations, and identify any problems or opportunities, though be sure to keep it brief, realistic, and forward-thinking. To get you started, The Prince’s Trust has excellent templates available, as well as help and advice.

Get your basics covered

Firstly, you’ll need to register your salon. You will almost certainly register as a “sole trader,” which means you are the sole proprietor of the company and can either work alone or employ individuals. You can alternatively register as a limited company or a business partnership; more information on the differences between these business kinds can be found on the GOV.UK website.

You will also need to apply for a premises licence. This is a legal obligation that is pretty easy to fulfil online. If you offer additional services such as facial treatments or massage, then you may require a separate licence for this too.

Comprehensive insurance cover is strongly recommended. Salon Gold, a specialist provider warns that: “claims for infections of the nail bed or reactions to glues and acrylics can run into thousands of pounds and without insurance, the salon owner will be left to foot the bill.” Henceforth, with the interpersonal nature of nail salons and the specialised equipment involved, you should safeguard against the unforeseeable — from allergic reactions to on-site injuries.

Moreover, if you plan on hiring anyone, you’ll need employers’ liability insurance — it’s a legal requirement. For convenience, we recommend choosing a comprehensive insurance plan that specialises in the beauty industry.

Define your brand

What will set your company apart from others? If you’re having trouble defining a unique selling point for your business, start by identifying what you know you can do well. Though the market is competitive, take pride in what you excel at in order to separate yourself from your rivals. This might be excellent customer relations, mobile services, or a truly modern theme.

Get brainstorming — if your salon were a person or celebrity, who would it be? Make a signature nail design that is notably displayed on your treatment list, or promote a monthly design based on current trends. Play to your strengths: could you pull off the latest style, such as the heavily bejewelled stiletto-cut? Can you cater to large groups, such as hen parties or birthday celebrations? Or can you provide the city’s greatest ombre French manicure in express time? Take time to research your skills and design preferences to let your personality (and your top coat) shine.

Create an online presence

According to a recent survey, beauty salons prioritise social media growth more so than website development in order to generate new business chances. Social networking is viewed as the most important possibility for growth by 44% of beauty salons.

It is critical, therefore, to establish an internet presence when starting a business, in order to reach the largest potential audience. To do so, you’ll need to create regular, visually appealing content for your website and social media.

Searchability is essential, so yes, you will need a website. Anyone seeking a company or service will often “Google it.” While Google indexes social networking pages, they are not prioritised above specialised websites. If you don’t have a website on there, someone searching “coffin nails in Cardiff” won’t know your business exists, and you’ll miss out on precious new clientele.

Moreover, register your salon with Google My Business to guarantee that it is visible by location, and utilise Google Analytics to monitor your online performance.

Then, consider if you want your salon to be listed in an online booking directory like Treatwell, and get to know the beauty booking service if you haven’t before. According to the wellness giant’s data, a booking is made through Treatwell every 1.5 seconds, and its popularity looks to be steadily increasing. Additionally, with Treatwell’s prominent competitor being Booksy, it’s evident that the customer craves convenience: its services allow users to search for treatments by genre, distance, price, and star rating.

Employ beauty specialists

Hiring the right employees is one of the most crucial components of any organisation. When it comes to hiring for your nail salon, it’s critical to select people who are passionate about the profession and have the abilities needed to give high-quality services. You will have to teach your nail technicians how to perform various treatments, as well as how to communicate with consumers effectively.

Once fully trained, your personnel will be able to give high-quality services that will keep your clients coming back. You’ll also need to hire receptionists, cleaners, and other support workers in addition to skilled nail experts.

Moreover, check your own qualifications. If you’re self-taught, the VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology is a government-recognized industry standard. A qualification will boost your technical ability as well as your capacity to be covered by top insurance companies at a reasonable price.

While these steps may appear challenging, adhering to them can help you succeed in opening your own nail salon. Good luck!

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.