Traditionally, salon workers were considered employees of the salon owner. Compensation might include a flat hourly wage or turning over a percentage of profits to the owner. This has become less common; salon workers are increasingly paying salon owners a flat fee to rent a booth for haircuts, blowouts, manicures and other salon services. Before committing to a salon’s booth rental, make sure to ask specific questions in order to have all details addressed and agreed upon to avoid later disputes.
Ask salon owners if they can provide an official contract for renting booths to stylists and aestheticians. When renting a booth, you’re no longer considered an employee of the salon. Instead, you’re an independent business owner; the salon owner becomes your landlord. Because you’re operating an independent business, it’s crucial to have all paperwork and financial documentation in order for tax-reporting purposes. This includes furnishing a signed contract at the request of the Internal Revenue Service. If salon owners can’t provide an official contract, it may be that they’re unethically (and perhaps illegally) offering booth rentals to avoid paying taxes and workers' compensation for what are actually their de facto employees.
Another question to ask concerns pricing schedules. Some salons maintain their own umbrella price structure for services, such as pedicures, haircuts, waxing or facials. If you’re looking into a salon that currently runs prices far below what you’d like to charge customers for services, renting a booth could mean being stuck with those low rates. You may be better off finding a salon more in line with your pricing preferences. Ask for current rates, and whether you’d be able to make your own adjustments depending on product choice, hair length, time spent or other variables.
Renting booths in salons sometimes means that you’ll be required to keep specific hours in accordance with salon rules or mall lease regulations. Requiring specific hours of booth rentals could put salon owners in danger of being in the potentially unethical position of instituting employee-like rules for workers who are actually independent business owners. If flexibility is a priority for you, make sure the salon offers operating hour ranges that work with your preferences.
Some salon booth rentals come with perks, such as health insurance or reception services. Asking what perks are contained in the contract makes a good starting point for negotiations. You might visit other salons or talk with industry connections to see what benefits are frequently offered to booth renters.
It’s possible that the salon owner will want to cooperate with shared advertising, since both parties benefit from increased visibility and customer flow. You can ask whether the owner is currently sharing advertising costs with booth renters, or whether she would be interested in conjointly funding marketing and advertising campaigns. If the owner isn’t interested, negotiate lower booth rental rates in exchange for your advertising investments, since this will likely result in increased business for the salon.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.