As with any business, when you start up a hairdressers you will need a certain amount of capital behind you. However, you may be in the position that Linda Heald, owner of Keeping Up Appearances found herself in, three years ago, when she took over a business following the death of a friend. As she says: “It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly that I was swept along by events.”
However, it was still necessary to formulate a business plan. “Right from the start we drew up a contract stating the responsibilities of each of us and detailed how the business would be divided in the event of a split. We knew from the age and needs of our clients and the kind of clientele we wanted to attract. As so many ‘upmarket’ salons only do cut and finish we decided to target the older customers who could not do their own hair. This gave us a guaranteed weekly income that other salons were turning away.”
There are many different types of salon out there, which attract and cater for different sectors of the market. For example, there will be those that mainly have young urban professional customers on their books, those that attract families and those, like Linda Heald’s that attract the older generation. If you’re running a female salon, bridal packages can be very profitable.
Before starting up it’s also worth checking with your local authority for the cost of business rate tax.
A typical hairdressing salon will contain a wealth of electrical items, from shavers and hairdryers to curling and possibly electrolysis equipment. Portable electrical equipment must be checked to see that they are suitably maintained every two years. This is your responsibility. A reliable electrician must carry out the check.
Obviously, its good to keep a check yourself and it may not be as difficult as you might think. Just by looking at an electrical appliance – the wiring and the socket pins especially – you should often be able to judge its safety. If you’re worried, don’t use it and call an electrician out.
One of the most important laws which hairdressers must abide by relates to hair dyes and shampoos, some of which can be hazardous, causing such conditions as dermatitis. Care also needs to be taken in the handling of chemicals, in some cases protective clothing must be worn to protect skin or to prevent inhaling toxic fumes. Regulations known as Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) have to be followed with regards to the use and storage of chemicals at work. Again, it is down to the business owner to make the necessary arrangements.
Les Purseglove, team leader of Nottingham Civic Council’s Health & Safety Enforcement Section, says that the council are there to see that these laws are being enforced and that health and safety issues at work are being promoted.
Staff working on customers’ hair must be qualified and have their GNVQ Level 2. Linda Heald, who also lectures in hairdressing at a local college, advises her students to get at least five years’ experience before considering starting up their own business. It takes time for all these various checks to come through.
As an employer, you are liable for the work your staff do. With members of the public stepping over your threshold, you must also have public liability insurance. A year’s worth cost Linda Heald £230. You also need to ask the local fire department to advise you on extinguishers and escape routes.
Purseglove adds: “Hairdressing is an interesting case because although they are often small businesses there are a number of significant risks in the working environment. If your salon has a sunbed or someone carrying out massage or beauty therapies such as aromatherapy then you have to have a license.”
An annual license to practise full body massage will cost somewhere around the £300 mark. For electrolysis, it will be less, around £100. Your local authority’s licensing section are the people to approach. These licenses ensure that everything is being carried out in a healthy way and there is no danger of cross-contamination. If you are only styling and cutting hair though, you don’t need any kind of license.