What is Salon Management?

Salon manager flipping holding an open sign

Do you dream of running or opening a salon of your own? The best way to learn how to manage a salon is to start as a hairstylist. During a cosmetology program, you learn more than hair. Students learn about nails, facials and makeup. You also attend a salon management class, allowing you to learn how to manage a salon. You get a well-rounded education that prepares you for your new salon. So, what is salon management anyway?

What is Salon Management?

As a salon manager, you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the salon. Whether you just manage the salon or are the owner, it is your responsible to schedule staff, keep the inventory on the shelves, get customers to enter the salon and stay up with all the other important tasks that come with salon management.

How Do I Become a Salon Manager?

The best way to become a salon manager is to start as a hairstylist. To be a hairstylist, you will need to get a diploma from a cosmetology school. After graduation, you take the licensing exam to become a licensed hairstylist.  During a cosmetology program, you will learn everything you need to know to be a successful hairstylist. From styling to cutting, coloring to permanent waves, a cosmetology program will give you the skills and techniques to manage a salon.

Start as a Hairstylist

By starting as a hairstylist, you will be prepared to become a salon manager. You will not only know what your hairstylists are supposed to do but they will respect you for starting in their shoes. Running a salon takes a lot of knowledge and experience that you can get as a hairstylist. You will improve your customer service skills, learn how to manage inventory, sell hair care products to clients and improve your time management skills. Then, once you become a salon manager, you can use your light bookkeeping skills, leadership qualities, operation management and staff management skills, that you learn during the cosmetology program, to good use.


Whether you are a hairstylist or salon manager, communication is important. Most of your time will involve working with customers and co-workers at the salon. Clear communication is important to create loyal customers. Giving the customers your full attention will help them feel valued as a customer in your salon. You will also learn a lot about your customers and be better able to choose hair care products based on their lifestyle. Good communication will also build life-long relationships that will create loyal customers. Customers that will advertise your salon through word of mouth.

What Do I Need to Know to Own a Salon?

As a salon owner, you will be responsible for the financial well-being of a salon. This includes the building, inventory, equipment and staff. You can run the day-to-day or hire a salon manager to fill that role. Part of being a salon owner is managing the financials and obtaining the proper licenses, choosing a good location, hiring staff, networking with distributors, creating a marketing plan, managing salon financials and paying taxes.

Obtaining the Licenses

There are many different licenses you will need to own a salon. There is the zoning license or certificate of occupancy for the establishment. The business license and fees that are paid to the city. Salon owner licenses with the city or county to run a clean and safe salon. In addition, you will need a seller’s permit to operate a salon and sell products and services. Finally, you will need to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Choose a Good Location

The most important decision you will make as a salon owner than the location of your salon. Do you pick a location that has a lot of foot traffic, or do your hairstylists already have a large clientele so you can pick a cheaper, out of the way location? Keep in mind that you usually have to sign a lease for your salon. The length of a lease can vary, being as long as five or more years. The benefit of a long lease is that the cost of rent doesn’t increase. The downside is that you are committed to the location for the life of the lease.

When choosing a location, consider the amount of space you will need to run the business. Do you need a back room to hold the unused inventory? Are you creating an open space salon or need extra seating for clients that are waiting for their appointments? Do you need to put in plumbing for extra sinks? There are a lot of decisions you need to make when choosing a location. Make sure to plan ahead and get the location that makes the most sense for your salon.

Hiring Staff

You can’t do it alone. You will need a staff of hairstylists, shampooers, a cashier and possibly someone to sweep up after each cut. Know what you are looking for in a hairstylist. Do you need someone that is experienced and brings their own clientele? Do you want to pay for graduates just out of cosmetology school? Are they as passionate about hair as you are? Are they reliable, trustworthy, punctual, hard-working and organized? Decide what you are looking for in a candidate and then interview as many people as you need to before you find the right team. The staff will set the atmosphere of the salon and a good atmosphere is inviting to clients.

Networking with Distributors

Once you open the salon, you will need to stock the hairstylist stations and retail shelves with combs, clippers, scissors, and other hair styling products. Some distributors will allow you to pay for the products after they are sold, so they give you credit terms to fill your shelves with hair care products initially. Once you have been in business for a while, you may decide to white label your own hair care products, with a unique brand. This way, you offer something to your clients they can only get at your salon.

Creating a Marketing Plan

Part of managing a salon is marketing it to the community, especially during a grand opening. You need to give everyone a reason to come to your salon because most people already have their favorite place to get their hair done. A grand opening is a great way for the community to find out about the salon and meet the staff. Make sure to integrate your salon into the community. Join associations, chamber of commerce and local neighborhood alliances.

Another great way to market your salon is online, specifically through social media. Make sure your salon shows up on Google, Yelp and everywhere else people look for a business. Many people also use Facebook, Instagram and other social media to see past work a salon has done. Create a community of loyal customers and allow them to promote your salon on social media.

Part of the marketing plan will also include the prices for your services and products. Make sure to charge properly for your services as having the lowest prices will only hurt the salon in the long run. Make sure your prices are competitive but reasonable, so you can keep running a profitable salon.

Salon Financials

In addition to raising the initial capital for a salon, you will be responsible for securing lines of credit from a local bank. There are also business loans and grants that are offered by the Small Business Administration. There are many different local, state and federal agencies that support small businesses. The credit line will allow you to buy inventory, equipment and advertising to run and promote your business. Plus, each month you will need to complete payroll, pay rent and utilities and manage vendor payments. Don’t forget the cost of insurance. Insurance will cover your liability and salon business damage.

Part of the financials is keeping the books. During a cosmetology program, you will learn how to do light bookkeeping using QuickBooks. This will help you manage the finances, do payroll, pay vendors and manage all the other financial transactions. QuickBooks is also indispensable when it is time to pay the taxes.

Paying the Taxes

As a business owner, you will need to decide whether you want to be a sole proprietor, partnership or LLC. Each has advantages and disadvantages, mainly an LLC takes financial responsibility for the business, so if the salon goes bankrupt you don’t have to dip into your personal funds. However, there are initial costs and paperwork that need to be completed to run an LLC.

Paying taxes on a salon includes federal, state and local taxes. You will also need to keep track of sales tax and use tax filing with the county or city. Taxes also come out of the staff’s paycheck, like social security and Medicare. If you own the building that houses your salon, don’t forget the property taxes.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what salon management is, it is time to become a hairstylist. During a cosmetology program, you will not only learn hairstyling but nails, facials and makeup. These are all great ways to expand your salon offerings. So, if you want to get a complete education in cosmetology and learn how to run a salon, find out more about your local cosmetology school today.

Cosmetology Program

Ready to manage or own a salon? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a cosmetologist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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