Nollywood Glamour | 16 April 2010 10:23 CET

Carving a niche in hairdressing business

By By Ime Umoren

People seek beauty, constantly looking to improve what they have, or give themselves a whole new look. They drop by the nearest hair and beauty salon to be pampered by stylists and beauticians who style tresses, shape eyebrows, and colour nails all for a few bucks or more. An hour in a hair and salon shop every month and one emerges confident and ready to take on the world.

It is no wonder, then, that hair and salon business remains a popular choice for people looking to start a company. According to the Service Annual Survey of the Bureau of Census, the United States hair, nail and skin care services saw a growth spurt in recent years, with revenues increasing by 78 per cent between 2000 and 2009.

In Nigeria, according to Managing Director, Exquisite Hands Salon, Ms Julie Akpan, a hair and salon business can be set up with moderate capitalisation, with between N100, 000 and N200,000 needed to start off. Some considerations: rent, equipment to be put in the salon and other miscellaneous items.

Akpan says, ”The hairdressing business is a competitive one, and you must not be fooled that it is always easy to succeed, but with a good business plan and a good strategy in place, coupled with a strong desire to be successful then there is no reason why you cannot provide a good quality of service and create a strong profitable business. You should ensure that you research and develop your business ideas as thoroughly as possible. It is essential that you determine whether there is room in the area you want to set up in.”

She stresses, ”Success in this venture depends on the ability to provide a consistently high customer satisfaction. The successful hair and salon business is one that offers excellent service, use quality products, and provide an enjoyable atmosphere at an acceptable price.”

The Managing Director, Hair Clinic, Mrs. Aniefiok Umoh says, ”The amount of capital you need to start the business depends on the type, quality and choice of salon design, rent and utility deposits, fixtures, leasehold improvements, opening inventory, and equipment that you intend to use.”

Akpan emphasises that one major start-up expense component of a hair and salon business are salon space. Unless you live in a big house with room for a salon and in an area with favourable zoning restrictions, you will need to rent space for your business.

Akpan and Umoh agree that location is critical to the success of the business, noting that the best location is strategically situated on one of the busiest streets in the area and a high-profile location with an easy access from all parts of town.

Akpan adds that a typical full-service hair and salon business include the following: hair treatments nail polishing and skin care. You will need plenty of electrical outlets, about five chairs or two or three sofas or benches, and between two to three dryers.

Umoh further suggests that the sale of professional hair/beauty products may be an added advantage for generating income. She stresses that offering a wide range of services in one setting is critical as it will give you a distinct advantage over those who offer only one or two types of services.

Akpan and Umoh both say that many clients prefer to have their hair, nails and face done in one place, instead of going to three different places, noting that giving your clients the convenience of a one-stop beauty shop can set your business apart from your competitors.

She stresses that some hair and salon businesses offer spa services, a growing niche in the salon business.

Both Akpan and Umoh agree that staff are very important to carving a niche for your business, adding that the number and type of personnel you need to hire will depend on the services that your hair and salon business will offer.

If the personnel are qualified and friendly, it will give you an edge over competitors, adding that it is important that you hire only qualified and well-trained beauticians, stylists, and other personnel, they say.

Umoh advises that it is the salon owner's responsibility to ensure that personnel are adequately trained and understand each procedure that is offered.

Akpan says that the salon equipment is very important, ”The truth is that hairdressing business cannot have customers coming back if you do not have the proper equipment like dryers, dryer chairs, salon stools, shampoo chairs, display counters, steamers, and manicure tables.”

It is important to be aware of the licenses you need, and also to join the association of hair dressing owners in that area to give you a sense of belonging.

More so, Akpan and Umoh stress that you need to create and maintain the desirable reputation as a quality hair and salon operation by collecting contact information from your clients about their email addresses or cell phone numbers.

Both Umoh and Akpan advise market analysis to gauge the competition and figure out the target clientele. The services you offer will vary significantly depending on the expected income levels of your potential clients. Cleanliness also counts.

”Create a clean and safe atmosphere. Salons thrive on an environment that is clean, safe and relaxing, where customers can receive prompt and professional service. Cleanliness is a particularly important element that can draw clients in again and again,” Akpan says.

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