I’m proud to tell you I was able to turn my small nail salon into a multiple 6 figure revenue business year after year, which I grew from a one-woman show to a salon run with a team of staff allowing me to manage it all from my iPhone while I stayed home to have my children, it also gave me the freedom to have travelled overseas and in Australia with my family. My goal was to have my children without working full-time or even part-time and still pull an income. I’ve now gone on to sell this business for 6 figures which equalled nearly 10x what I paid for it. If I can do it, I believe anyone can with the right mindset and guidance, especially you.
I started my business with only 1 real core business service back before the discount salons were popping up everywhere, and that was Acrylic nails. I had managed to build my own clientele but I was starting to feel trapped and overwhelmed at the idea of having to do all the clients myself. How was I going to continue to do all the clients and still have time to myself and my future family? after all, my goal with buying the salon was to be able to have it work for me and I needed to find a way to get it started before I actually needed it to.
This thought is what prompted me to start looking outside the box of my own business, learn a better way and I knew I needed to do it now, well before I needed the time off. I wanted a life where I would be able to bring in more money, without doubling my work effort and work fewer hours. after all, one person can’t do it all.
Being the main person in any business who service’s all the clients and runs the salon isn’t any way to scale your income or business, and I knew this. With the advice from my husband, I started to build my manual on how I did tasks in the salon. I would call it my salon bible, A manual which would help me build my business when the staff came along. A record of every job/task I did and how I did it.
At the exact same time, I was looking to scale my business A new service called “shellac or gel polish” had just hit the market. I was loving it, and so were my clients. I learnt everything I could about the service and started recommending it to my clients straight away. Clients loved it and I loved that it was quicker, had no smell and it was less painful on my body. Plus I realised I could train people easily in the service which in turn meant I could start offering it on a larger scale. I hired a few staff and started them off on waxing and gel polish services. It picked up really quickly and clients started booking in with the new staff, which took the pressure of myself. After only a few months I could see the revenue was increasing, this was due to being able to offer move appointment slots for more people. We were also starting to become known for great gel polish manicures and pedicures. Without having to advertise. Word of mouth seemed to be getting around.
Music to my ears, as I was able to reduce my workload of acrylic clients, and start moving clients over to staff for the new and easier service. We had started to get so busy, I had the chance to purchase the hair salon next door. This was a big dream of mine as I wanted a bigger floor space. I knew the path I wanted to take the business on and I jumped at the chance. I bought the hair salon and run it for 6 months to earn my money back and then decided to turn the whole space into the nail and pedicure area with gel polish. I wanted to set the business up as a “Gel polish experts.”
I did all this with no business experience at all, just my husband and I with spreadsheets galore to manage our finances and a dream of what we wanted. I started to feel insecure with growing the business so I talked my husband into hiring a number of different salon coaches. I thought I needed expert advice from salon coaches that had been in my shoes and were able to lead me down the path I was afraid to go on my own. This is a point in my life, where I spent a great deal of money on coaching and courses. They were all thousands of dollars and offered the same advice as each other. Nothing was personal about it, it was the same cookie cutter approach which I didn’t like.
- hire more staff
- change your services
- get more retail
- lower your costs
That’s all well and good but how do you train staff, how do I get more clients for services that are new to me, where do I find the money for more retail, and how the hell do I lower my costs.
One of these beauty business coaches had a seminar in a different state to me so I packed up my bags and went along with my husband. I had already built my business up a fair amount but I was looking for the next step.
I had paid thousands to attend this 2 day event, and there were a lot of women in the room. They all had skin salons where I had a nail/beauty salon and only offered basic skin services. But they were all there for the same reason as me; they wanted to grow what they already had and they weren’t sure if they were on the right path.
The event didn’t go as I imagined, I found her to be rude, unapproachable and downright out of touch with the business of beauty salons, and the struggles we as owners were under today. Her tactics were stressful and mean in some cases, which stressed me out.
I looked around the room and listened to the stories of the other owners, I noticed my business was a little different to everyone else’s. They were all skin focused salons but they all still had the same issues as me. How do we grow our team and revenue? The coach’s answer to my problem was to drop nails all together and focus on skin, and skin only or never be able to grow my business and fail (well, from what she was telling me!)
But this didn’t sit right with me. after all, the owners in the room were only skin clinics and they still had the same issues as me which were how to grow quickly and easily. It would mean having to drop my client list of thousands and rebuild, plus let go of the dollar amount that “nails” were bringing in. I couldn’t do that, it would mean I would have to fire up to 4 staff and rebuild. I was pregnant at the time and didn’t have the capacity to step in and start the business all over again. But she didn’t care and didn’t have an answer for me.
My husband and I both had a long chat about it, and looked at our numbers and dropping such a huge chunk of our income just didn’t seem right. Plus I wasn’t passionate enough about the other stuff to make my whole business about it. This is where knowing what you love, and knowing what is right for your business and life play a huge part of you building your dream.
After a few months, it was around Christmas time and I noticed other salon owners complaining on facebook they weren’t busy in the lead up to Christmas. We, on the other hand, were flat out and that’s when I realised I had made the right decision. People needed my service every 2 to 3 weeks, unlike the skin side where we all like to think we keep it up all year round but really it drops off the list when we become busy and have so much on our plates.
Now, I do want to highlight, I understood what the coaches were trying to tell me, skin has a higher price service and a lot more retail potential to earn a higher dollar per hour. But at the end of the day, the products are a big investment, so are the machines you need to perform all these new and amazing services. You also need a lot of knowledge and confident staff to be able to perform the service and be confident to sell after each treatment. That’s where the real money lies; after the treatment. The key take away for you is “don’t discount the little services”
I wanted help to grow my business, help to give me the courage I thought I needed to reduce my hours and rely on staff more. After paying thousands of dollars I realised I knew what needed to be done. I needed to back myself and my husband who had a little bit of business background and start to grow what I wanted.
I did change the business a little by introducing more retail products, a bigger skincare range and new skin treatments. But I didn’t drop the whole nail side, with me stepping out of the treatment chair to run the business I found the Gel Polish side alot easier for me to train all the new staff in. A starting point to help them build confidence and get to know the clients. I did make the decision to drop acrylic nail services. Why? I found it really hard to train staff or even find staff that could do a half decent set, the dollar amount that was needed to be charged for the service people weren’t happy to pay, and the time it took was way too long for the little investment I would get back. So I made the cut and let go of all the clients that only got acrylic nails done and didn’t buy anything else.
Another area where I excelled in was building a marketing funnel for every single client that walked into my door. This wasn’t ever really explained by any coaches as it was a fairly new concept, besides the “you needed to send them a thanks for coming email or where have you been letter/email. But this is a whole training on its own which I will go in to later.
Looking at my numbers I could see Gel polish was easier to do, train staff in and was able to make the minimum $100 – $110 per hour I needed in the salon. I was now using Gel polish as my calling card to attract clients into the business and the other services like waxing, tanning, skin and retail to increase my client satisfaction and dollar spend in the salon. Once I started focusing in on one service and building a name for us in the community, I found building the business a lot easier, finding staff a lot easier, growing my revenue and still being in connection with my passion.
The biggest relief was also knowing if I had a staff member off sick, on leave or short staffed, I was able to step in at any time to help bring in the dollars or easily move clients to other staff members. This was a huge stress off my shoulders, knowing I have the option to step back in and make the extra money whenever needed. If I had gone down the other path of removing these basic services I would not have been able to run the salon as well as I could. After spending all that money, I realised I should have trusted myself and my husband sooner and not been so focused on trying to look like the business women I wanted to be. I was already everything I needed to be and more. I had the courage to stick my neck out and aim for my dream goal. For that, I am so proud of myself.
One book I highly recommend to you if you are stuck in the same place I was is “who moved my cheese” It really helped with my mindset and the building block to looking at my business through a new light. grab your copy here.
The key areas to growing my business were knowing what I wanted for me and my business.
- finding a way to remove myself from doing all clients.
- focusing my marketing on one thing
- Offering more Appointments
- Building trust as the go-to salon for a service all staff were trained in
- Making sure I had services people wanted all year round.
- Having systems in place to cross over services and retail products
- I was able to charge a little more than “cheap nail salons” because I had high standards and better training
- Having a marketing plan for after the client left the business
Whether you do, or want to start doing nails or another service that may not charge as high as $150 an hour, you can use my key points to grow your own business to bring in more money for you either at home or in salon.
- Know your why, it is key to bringing you back to why you are doing this
- Know what you are great in and become the expert in that. Whether that is eyebrows, nailart, tanning or skin
- Be excellent at it and charge what it’s worth, not what people around you are charging, but what covers your costs and gives you an income you can live on
- Be open to bringing on people to help you
- Be generous with your skills and training. This is key to grow any team, if you want to work from home or just on your own always keep learning
- Start today