This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, employment, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
What do you need to run a salon?
After going through the process of nailing your salon business plan, registering your business, acquiring licenses, determining your financing and finding a location, you’re ready to take the next step and build out your space. But where should you start and what are your options?
Having a well-equipped, connected, and easy-to-manage salon is essential to setting up yourself, your staff, and your business for success. According to the Square Future of Beauty report, 29% of consumers say they want automated systems to schedule, reschedule, or cancel appointments, while 98% of beauty business owners agree that integrated tools will allow staff to focus on more important tasks, like the creative work they’re passionate about.
Here is the Square checklist guide for all of the hardware and tools you should consider to get up and running.
Download a PDF of the checklist here
Salon office supplies
It can be easy to forget about these basics when you’re starting out and focused on fine-tuning your product, but planning ahead will help your operations run smoothly while avoiding surprise expenses.
- WiFi: Before you open your doors, ask yourself if WiFi will be used for staff only or if you want to offer it to customers to connect.
- Computer/tablet: While you can do plenty of business management from your phone, it’s helpful to have a computer or tablet available for larger projects.
- Basics (pens/paper/staplers/clips): Like many of these tools, buying in bulk and budgeting ahead can help save on future costs.
- Cleaning supplies: Items such as trash cans, trash bags, brooms, mops, and disinfectant wipes will help your salon maintain a level of cleanliness to attract customers.
- First aid kit
- Business bank account and necessary documentation
You might not need a traditional break room, but consider having a space dedicated to your staff. Giving employees an area to unwind with amenities — even small ones like comfortable chairs and a stocked fridge — is a nice step to attracting and retaining talent.
- Break room: You can get creative here, and employees are likely to appreciate the perk.
- Filing cabinet and safe: You might not require space for tracking physical documents or providing security for specific items at your salon, but both can be helpful tools as you’re getting started.
Salon services, washing stations, furniture, and chairs
This equipment will make up a large portion of your startup costs. One tip: Most salon equipment and furniture can be bought at wholesale prices with your cosmetology license. It can help save money if you are buying your styling needs in bulk.
- Service stations (salon, shampoo, drying)
- Shampoo bowls
- Storage space for products and tools
- Chair mats
- Utility trays
- Dryer units
- Spray bottles
- Ring lights
- Power strips
- Laundry equipment
Point-of-sale (POS) system
Whether it’s a stand for your tablet, a mounted POS, a small mobile terminal, or a full register, your point-of-sale system is so much more than a tool for the essential task of processing payments. The best POS nails the basics while streamlining administrative tasks and tracking everything from sales reporting to customer engagement to inventory management. Here’s how to get started choosing the one for you.
According to the Square Future of Beauty report, 96% of beauty businesses say they sell retail products, and 26% of consumers bought retail products from their personal care provider. It’s a potential revenue stream for your salon business worth considering as you’re getting started.
- Retail product displays: The specifics here will depend on the size of your space, but prioritize highlighting your product and making it as easy as possible for your customers to make purchases the way that works best for them.
- Shopping bags: If you have the budget for it, this can be another opportunity to market your business with a creative shopping bag design.
- QR code printouts: QR codes have become a leader in the way customers order and pay, improving the overall retail experience as well as a business’s bottom line.
Salon front desk, display, lighting, and decor
A large majority of beauty businesses reported that they have struggled to balance safety precautions with providing a relaxing environment. It’s important to consider the look and feel of the spa you plan to create from the start to help avoid additional costs after opening.
- Front desk/reception area: Having a functional and welcoming reception area can be a key step in making a positive impression on customers and helping them feel comfortable.
- Lighting: Your lighting choices can have effects across your business, including setting the right mood and guiding customers to specific areas.
- Signage: Signage inside and outside of your salon can provide guidance to customers while also acting as another branding opportunity.
Have the budget to amplify your space a bit more? Small things can make a huge difference in retaining customers.
“For some reason, it sounds nuts, but having the plants that we have feels so welcoming the moment you walk in,” WTR Cooler Studio owner Ivana Cajina said. “And I know I may be biased, but there’s something about it. Every time someone walks in they go, ‘Whoa.’ Because you don’t expect it. It just feels good.”
- Stereo system
- Seating area
While physical marketing tools aren’t essential items for your salon business, you should consider whether they’re useful for the business you’re starting and if they fit inside your budget. While digital marketing can be highly effective, a new salon can get a boost from these items:
- Business cards
- Stickers, pens, and small giveaways
- Branded merch, including shirts, tote bags, and hats