How much does it cost?
As already indicated, to start up in the beauty industry you need to be prepared to sink a substantial sum into your venture from the get-go. You will need immaculate premises, high-quality treatments, and well-trained specialist staff. None of this comes cheap.
“You need to put a lot of investment into this kind of business,” Kalpana insists. “It depends on how big your spa is and how you would like to be seen, but really, the clients’ experience is the main priority. All of the staff are expensive.”
Whatever type of salon or spa you’re setting up, the general rule of thumb appears to be: expect your beauty salon or spa to cost a lot more to set up than you budget for.
Kalpana’s initial investment was around £150,000 – a figure she was not anticipating. “I wasn’t prepared for the cost,” she admits, “but I was focused and I followed my dream. To set up a business, you should always expect it to be times two or times three of your estimate. Mine is four or five times.”
Lorraine Fletcher of Atelier Salon & Spa – who had to renovate her Grade II listed premises before opening her business - agrees: “As with anything, you don’t really know how much money goes into the building work. We started off with a budget of £110,000 and it ended up being £200,000.”
But even if you don’t have to strip out and revamp your business premises, equipment and fit-out still adds up: “Getting in your furniture, but taking away the bills… I would say you’d need between £60-80,000 to set up,” Lorraine estimates. “That includes all your equipment and fit out.”
Fit out really depends on the kind of treatments you’re going to be offering. If it’s just basic treatments, then it’s going to be cheaper to set up: the equipment needed for manicures and pedicures is just a few hundred pounds, whereas laser machines could cost thousands.
The cost of your products and the supplier you use will also depend on what kind of salon you’re going to be, and the constraints of your budget. But you should do everything in your power to search for the best price.
Kalpana had trouble in this regard, because she was new to both the beauty industry and the British business scene. Her network was very limited, so she struggled to find value; she says she had to spend three times her budget on fit-out and equipment because she didn’t have the right contacts.
Kim Ford, of BABTAC, says that trade magazines and tradeshows are really good places to source new suppliers for products and equipment, and advises new start-ups to seek membership of an organisation so they can keep abreast of new products and new trends in the industry.
She also believes trade shows are the best places to negotiate on price: “You have the opportunity to meet the sales rep, and it’s very competitive. These are huge exhibition halls, with lots of people offering the same product and the same equipment. "Rather than go with one company and try to beat them down on price, make them compete amongst themselves.”
However, when picking your suppliers and furnishing your premises, keeping costs down should not be your only concern. Second-hand equipment bought from eBay and liquidation sales, and reduced price lots from suppliers, may look cheap at first - but sometimes it’s better to invest in the best. Buying second hand can be a false economy.