Ideas for Making Money at a Beauty Salon

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds; Updated September 26, 2017
Female hairdresser adjusting curlers in a mid adult woman's hair

You might be the best stylist in town or have the best staff working for you, but that’s not always enough to draw customers. In addition to offering a superior product at a good price, you must employ a variety of tried-and-true marketing strategies and techniques used by many other large and small businesses to expand your revenue potential and get the word out about your salon.

Create a Cross-Promotion Strategy

Ask other businesses to recommend you in exchange for you sending them customers. Think about where your customers spend on health, wellness and beauty and choose businesses that cater to them. You might approach the following businesses:

  • Photographers
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Makeup artists
  • Personal trainers
  • Masseuses
  • Wedding planners
  • Dress makers

Offer the owners of these businesses free cuts, facials or other services you offer so that they can give their customers a personal recommendation, making potential clients feel more at ease. Offer one-time discounts for new customers who come to you via one of your partners to make it look like the partner business is doing their clients a favor.

Create a Customer Referral Campaign

It’s easy to ask customers to recommend you to their friends, but it requires an active strategy to get them to do so. Offer two ways for customers to recommend you:

Discount referrals. Some customers might feel awkward taking a cash referral or discount bonus for recommending friends. For these customers, offer discount referrals for their friends. Create a card with a message such as, “____ has arranged a 25 percent discount for you at The Cut & Color Corner.” Your customer should fill her name in the blank space.

Service credits. If you think customers will be motivated to send you customers in exchange for earning service credit, cash or products, create a program that rewards them for sending customers to you. Remember, even if you lose money or break even on the first visit of a new referred customer, you might make a profit off that customer for many years to come. Salon Plaza shares five reasons most salon referral plans don't work and offers advice for making your succeed.

Create a Holiday Club

A holiday club that lets a client fill out a card with her spouse or partner's contact information and create a wish list of services or items she wants. This works for a variety of holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, Christmas and birthdays. Contact the spouse a couple weeks before the occasion advising of the wish list. Offer a 10 percent discount and a holiday card to give to the recipient.

Add Services

Look for ways to offer benefits or add-on services your customers need and want, making your salon a full-service personal beauty business. This can include manicures, pedicures, eyebrow threading, facials and massages. What you can offer depends on your space and your ability to hire new employees or rent space to independent contractors. You might offer some of these services only one or two days per week, or in the morning or afternoon only. Salon Today suggests a list of 30 "express" services that take less than 30 minutes to offer clients.

Be Child Friendly

Consider offering free child care for customers, such as a play area staffed with an adult who watches children while mom gets a haircut or manicure for 30 to 60 minutes. Check with your state to determine your legal ability to do so. You might be able to get around any licensing requirement by not providing child care staff but instead creating an unsupervised play area (with toys and a TV) in view of clients. Consider the effect this might have on your brand if your upscale clients don’t want to visit a day care center.

Add Products

Adding products to your offerings can generate new revenue streams while providing a benefit to your clients. Market the things you sell as hand-picked by you and your professional staff so clients feel they are getting best-in-class shampoos, conditioners, skin creams, nail polishes and other items researched and recommended by a professional. Be careful not to dilute your expertise by selling junk jewelry or other impulse items clearly meant to make you money rather than provide a benefit for the client. Look for exclusive products your customers can’t get elsewhere to make them more tempting, recommends Organic Color Systems.

Bundle Products and Services

To encourage your clients to spend more with you, offer discounts when they buy two or more services or products. For example, offer a discount on a haircut and manicure, or a cut and bottle of shampoo. To encourage customers to send family members to you, offer a “family discount” when the same family buys two or more cuts, colors or other services.

Increase Your Hours

If you aren’t open evenings and weekends, experiment with extended hours to accommodate your working clients, recommends Entrepreneur magazine contributor Eileen Figure Sandlin. You might market new hours as a one-month promotion to see what kind of traffic you get. You might try just morning hours on weekend, or four hours in the middle of the day on Sunday. If extended hours are profitable, make them permanent.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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