With social media and celebrity influence becoming more and more prevalent, the demand for manicured nails has seen an influx in nail salons popping up across our high streets.
An increasing awareness of the importance of self-care makes this affordable luxury a favourite beauty treatment, and its rising popularity shows no sign of slowing, with global data indicating a growing trend for nail services.
So, if you’re thinking about setting up your own nail salon, then this guide covers everything you’ll need to know to get off to a successful start.
What qualifications do I need to open a nail salon?
While nail technicians are not legally required to have formal qualifications, it’s strongly advised to undertake a professionally recognised course to ensure you have all the knowledge required to carry out a quality service.
The typical qualifications to start with are a level 2 or 3 certificate in nail technology or nail treatments. Completing an accredited course not only equips you with the essential skills, but also enhances your credibility in the industry, instils confidence in your clients, and can prove vital when it comes to securing adequate insurance cover for your salon – which we’ll take a look at later.
Once you have the qualifications behind you, you’ll be in a much stronger position to launch your nail salon. Here’s how to get started:
1. Create your business plan
Planning will be a crucial step in establishing and growing a successful salon. Your business plan will serve as a roadmap outlining your objectives, strategies, and financial projections.
Writing a business plan will help clarify your vision, goals, and how you aim to achieve them. It forces you to make crucial considerations about your services including pricing, budgeting, and marketing.
As well as helping to steer the strategic direction of your nail salon, your business plan can be hugely important should you come to secure funding from investors at any point during your journey.
2. Determine your location
Your location will play a pivotal role in the level of success your business experiences.
You’ll want to seek out a high-traffic area, in close proximity to shopping centres, residential neighbourhoods, or business districts, to maximise the potential of foot traffic and visibility. You should also consider accessibility to parking and public transport links which help make your salon more convenient for both clients and staff.
As well as choosing the right location, you’ll also need to select suitable premises for your salon, bearing in mind size, layout, and interior design. Your salon’s aesthetic will be equally as important as your location when it comes to attracting your target clientele.
If financial resources are limited, you might want to think about renting a shared space within other premises or operating as a pop-up shop. This can provide a cost-effective route to establishing your nail salon while benefiting from a strategic location, allowing you to test the waters without the commitment of a long-term lease.
3. Invest in equipment and supplies
A quality service begins with quality tools and supplies. Your main expenses will be your manicure and pedicure stations. Additionally, you’ll need to stock up on the essentials that you’ll use to operate your day-to-day service. This should include:
- Nail tools and products: polishes, gels, acrylics, nail art supplies, sable brushes, towelettes, cuticle oils, and nail cleansers.
- Sanitation and sterilisation equipment: disinfectant wipes, sterilisation pouches, hand sanitiser, autoclaves, gloves, and cleaning products to ensure compliance with health and safety standards.
- Inventory management: an efficient system for managing your inventory. This will help you to regularly restock supplies to avoid running out of essential products.
There are a number of avenues to suit varying budgets when sourcing your supplies, including:
- Beauty supply stores
- Online retailers
- Wholesale suppliers
- Nail brands and manufacturers
- Online marketplaces
Shop around to find the best deals, and pay close attention to reviews and feedback. In some cases, you may be able to sample products before committing to a bulk buy.
4. Define your pricing
One of the most crucial aspects of setting up your nail salon involves determining your pricing strategy.
To ensure your business strikes the right balance of being both profitable and competitive, you’ll want to consider several factors:
- Location: be conscious of the living costs in your area, and price your services in line with what the local market can afford.
- Demand: high demand for certain treatments may allow you to set premium prices, while services with lower demand may require more competitive pricing to attract clients.
- Market research: consider the pricing of nearby nail salons and identify any gaps or opportunities in the local market.
You should also take into account your brand image – for example, do you want to be the affordable go-to salon, or do you want to offer a more luxurious salon experience? Consider any unique offerings or specialised treatments you can provide that differ from your competitors.
5. Choose your business structure
Once you have a plan in place, you’ll need to officially register your nail salon and choose the legal structure that best suits your business.
In most scenarios, it’s likely you’ll choose to set up as either a sole trader or a limited company.
If you’re running your nail salon alone, then setting up as a sole trader is the most straightforward structure with the fewest administrative responsibilities.
As a sole trader, you’ll operate your business as an individual without forming a separate legal entity. This means you will have complete control over your day-to-day business activities but will be personally responsible for any business liabilities or debts.
You will also need to register for Self Assessment with HMRC and complete a tax return each year.
A popular choice for nail salons is to register as a limited company.
Operating as a limited company provides you with the protection of limited liability for the debts of the business. Not only this but limited company status can appear more professional and credible.
Limited companies also benefit from more tax planning opportunities, which can make them more tax-efficient.
6. Get the necessary permissions
Depending on the types of services you plan to offer within your nail salon, it’s likely that you’ll need to obtain specific permits and licensing.
For example, to perform manicures you must obtain a massage and special treatment premises licence from your local council.
You can use the GOV.UK’s free ’Licence Finder’ tool to help you identify any additional licences you may need. Alternatively, you should contact your council directly to make sure you’re aware of any rules and regulations specific to your local area.
7. Secure insurance cover
Insurance is an absolutely vital part of successfully setting up your nail salon. There are a number of policies you should opt for, to protect yourself and your salon from any potential legal claims or unforeseen circumstances that could be detrimental to your business and its daily operations.
As a minimum, you should take out:
- Public liability insurance: this protects you should your work activities cause injury or property damage to a third party.
- Treatment risk insurance: this is a more specific coverage designed to protect you from the risks associated with nail treatments, such as allergic reactions or physical harm.
- Employer’s liability insurance: this is a legal requirement if you hire staff in your salon, even if they are employed on a casual, temporary or part-time basis.
You may also want to consider business equipment and contents coverage, as well as business interruption insurance, to ensure your salon is safeguarded against unexpected incidents like theft, fire and flooding.
8. Promote your services
Finding and retaining clients extends far beyond your physical presence. Today, creating an online identity is crucial for any successful business. Here are some of the key areas to focus on:
A professional website: Your website serves as your virtual storefront and is often the first port of call for potential clients. Invest in a well-designed, user-friendly website that showcases your salon’s services, pricing, and contact information. Ensure it’s mobile-responsive, as many clients will access it on their phones.
Online booking system: Implementing an online booking system streamlines the appointment process for clients, and makes booking your services more convenient. Choose a reliable booking platform that syncs with your salon’s schedule and sends appointment reminders.
Social media: Utilise social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest to showcase your nail artistry, share promotions, and engage with your audience. Regularly update your profiles with high-quality images of your work.
Online advertising: Consider running targeted ads on social media platforms to reach a wider audience beyond passers-by. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer easy-to-use advertising tools to help you reach potential clients in your local area.
9. Hire staff
While it is possible to run your salon alone, this can take its toll, especially if you are operating in a busy and built-up area. To efficiently accommodate multiple clients at once and alleviate potential strain on yourself, it’s advisable to consider expanding your team.
This may be a gradual process, allowing you to carefully select and train team members over time as you build popularity, or you might decide to build a team from the outset to ensure seamless operations from the beginning. The choice largely depends on your resources and business strategy.
When recruiting candidates, you should look for skilled nail technicians with the appropriate certifications and training. Ensure they are well-versed in various nail treatments and can uphold the quality standards of your salon.
There are a number of avenues for advertising your roles and sourcing the support you need. Contact local beauty schools or vocational training institutes that offer nail technology courses. Graduates from these programmes often seek employment opportunities in salons.
You can also make use of online job boards such as Indeed and social media platforms to advertise vacancies to a proactive audience.
10. Expand your expertise
Just like any fast-paced industry, the world of nail care and beauty is always evolving. Make sure you set aside time and implement habits into your routine so that you stay updated on the latest trends, techniques and industry standards.
For example, you might choose to enrol in advanced training courses that specialise in specific areas of nail care. Attend beauty expos and conventions to learn about emerging trends and discover new products. Or consider joining professional associations related to nail care and beauty, such as the Federation of Nail Professionals. Organisations like this often provide access to valuable resources, educational materials, and networking opportunities.
So, there you have it, ten steps on setting up a nail salon. We hope this guide has provided you with enough information to get started on your new business journey.
Remember, if you need any assistance getting started, then we’re here to help you each step of the way – contact our team of experts today.