How to Manage a Tattoo Shop. As a tattoo studio owner there are many steps involved in managing a successful shop. You may also decide to hire a shop manager to take care of many of these tasks for you. Whether you are the owner/manager or hired by the owner to manage the shop, learning how to take care of the daily duties involved in running the shop can be tedious, but doable.

Learn how the specific tattoo shop you will be managing should be run. If you are the owner, you will already know the procedures to be followed, but if you were hired as the shop manager, you will want to discuss with the owner how he wants things done. You will also want to discuss policies with the individual tattoo artists to see if there are any special requirements they have. Also be sure you know all of the state regulations you must follow while effectively managing the business.

Use business software to track sales, expenses, client and employee scheduling, inventory control, accounts payable and other aspects of the day-to-day business. If a software program hasn't already been set up, then, as manager, you need to do this first. But, if the program is already in place, learn to use all the aspects you will be using daily.

Peruse inventory control sheets and any computer program in place to track all the necessary items needed to run the shop including needles, inks, disposables and cleaning supplies. Keeping these sheets or the program updated daily will help make ordering quicker and easier, if you are in charge of this task. Physically take inventory at least once a week to make sure what's in the computer matches what is actually on hand.

Place any orders to replace used items in inventory and a make a shopping list for those items you buy locally. Pick up the items on your shopping list or send someone with the list to make these purchases. Depending on the size and the amount of business the shop does, you may have to do this daily or once a week may suffice for smaller businesses.

Check the appointment schedules of each artist to see what is on the agenda for the day. Take note of open spots that could be filled with walk-in business you might receive throughout the day. You should also look at the rest of the week's schedule to see where new appointments can be scheduled. If artists have individual work schedules, check these schedules as well, to see when each of them is available for appointments. Appointments and schedules may be kept electronically on the computer, physically on a calendar or both.

Pull out any necessary client paperwork or artwork on file for the appointments scheduled that day. Many states require certain forms to be filled out and a copy made of photo identification. If any of the day's clients are new, then have the proper paperwork ready for them to fill out when they arrive.

Assign daily tasks to individual employees. You, as shop manager, will probably take care of most of the financial aspects, scheduling and ordering, but there may be other duties that you hand off to other people. For example, individual tattoo artists should keep their own areas clean, but the rest of the shop needs to be cleaned, as well. This includes cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash and sweeping/mopping or vacuuming floors. As a shop manager, you may do these extra tasks yourself or assign them to other people.

Take care of any daily paperwork required. Some shops will have separate office managers to take care of all the bookkeeping or the owner may do it himself, but some will also shuffle some of this paperwork to the shop manager. You will want to schedule time for these duties, as needed. The amount of time needed will depend on whether you just take care of simple tasks or you are responsible for all the accounts payable/receivable and other accounting tasks.

Join a tattoo artist organization that can offer advice on how to manage a successful tattoo shop. The Alliance of Professional Tattooists and the National Tattoo Association are two groups you can start with. Inked Nation is an online community for tattooists and tattoo enthusiasts, but it also offers individual groups for those specifically in the business end of tattooing where you can talk with other shop managers and owners.


Keeping inventory control programs current will make ordering quick and easy and help ensure you never run out of must-have items like specific sizes of needles used most frequently and the most common colors of tattoo ink. Keep an inventory of disposable items not ordered through a tattoo supplier, such as paper towels, and your everyday cleaning and disinfecting supplies, as well, so you won't be running to the store several times each day replacing different items that could have been purchased all at one time. As a shop manager hired by the shop owner, your duties may vary. Some shops only require the manager to help with scheduling appointments, helping customers and keeping the shop clean. Other shops, however, may have you take care of all the daily paperwork, ordering, inventory control, employee scheduling and more. If you are an owner/manager, then you may take care of everything yourself including all the bookkeeping and advertising, unless you choose to hire separate people to take care of some of these tasks.