Despite the headwinds to this portion of the service industry, beauty salons continue to expand, and even grew during the 2008 recession. While growth in the past 5 years has been capped at approximately 3.3%, there are still signs of optimism and resiliency within the industry.
Now, more than any time in the past 50 years, is it vitally important to properly finance a beauty salon.
Beauty Salon Loans - Background and Overview
According to beauty service industry researchers Professional Consultants & Resources, overall revenues for all salon industry services (hair, skin, nails) plus salon retail grew only 2%, per the 2017 Professional Salon Industry Haircare Study (the latest study available):
Total U.S. salon services and salon retail sales grew by 2% to $63 billion. Nearly 257,000 salons and barbershops in the United States use and sell salon hair care products. However, the salon count declined by 5%, as many traditional, commission-based salons closed, and beautiful, large, new salon suites opened.
Looking at the 5-year chart below, we see that growth in the beauty salon segment is contracting, yet still on a positive, upward trend. It is estimated that the industry will accelerate growth as younger clients become more financially stable, with more disposable income for professional care at beauty salons. However, there are few industry experts disputing the domination of the mega salons. When it comes to beauty salons, bigger is better. This is something to keep in mind when considering a business loan for your beauty salon.
Beauty Salon Financing - Trends and Drivers of Style
Fifty years ago, most major style trends were generated by celebrity figures. Consider how First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy influenced almost an entire generation of women to adapt her hair style and wardrobe look. Or more recently, remember Jennifer Aniston's 1990s "Rachel" hairstyle? These were iconic fashion movements that captivated millions.
For better or worse, those days are gone. Social media has splintered the attention of the world's fashionistas. According to Franchisehelp.com, a company that offers information on beauty salon franchise opportunities, 82% of women now believe that social media drives fashion trends. For salon owners and stylists, the velocity of change offers a watershed moment: Instead of women (and, increasingly, men) changing their styles every few months, many are now changing styles and color on a daily basis.
The Small Business Development Center Network says:
- The largest households and older householders are the best customers of personal care services like haircuts, massages, manicures, and facials
- Householders aged 35 - 64 spend 8 - 14% more than average on this category
- Married couples without children at home (most of them empty-nesters) spend 25% more than average on personal care services, while those with school-aged or older children at home (the largest households) spend 31 - 37% more than average
According to a Pro Consultants report on US beauty salons:
- Haircoloring remains a vital anchor service, attracting clients for other services like cuts, styles, perms, and straighteners
- Haircoloring services grew only 2.6%, primarily from Boomers needing gray coverage and young adults' demands for fashion hair color like blonding, highlights, baby-lights, balayage, sombres, and shadow roots
- Vibrants, vivids, and pastels slowed
- Keratin straightening services grew slightly
- Cutting and styling grew 2.3%, as clients visited less frequently
- More customers got cut and styled at lower prices, at family-economy chains and rentals
- Blow-dry bars grew very strongly at a rate of 25%, in both revenues and number of locations
Beauty Salon Financing - Investing in Change
The drivers in a beauty salon for revenue growth continue to be haircuts, styling, and professional coloring. However, there are pressures here as well, as many Baby Boomers have embraced going gray naturally, and most Millennials are not quite wrestling with that decision yet. Additionally, men are becoming a more prominent part of revenue consideration as social attitudes towards men's personal care change.
As these demographic shifts take place, salon owners and stylists are being confronted with changes in their service requirements. This could be a defining moment for salons and their employees. Investment in training and monitoring social media trends can be exhausting, but the risk of not keeping up can be fatal. There was a time when style inspiration came mainly from magazines; these days, a computer with virtual or augmented reality apps is the new standard. Identifying trends and delivering them to clients is the new challenge for stylists and salon owners.
Investing in new technology and training will likely be one of the biggest financial challenges for the beauty salon industry in the next 10 years.
Loans for Beauty Salons - How to Grow Your Salon Business
The beauty salon industry is changing. Growth outlook has been declining since 2012, yet there seems to be change on the horizon. So how can you grow your salon business? Let's look at the growth areas projected based on demographic shifts and social change.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the primary service segments of the market employ nearly 1 million people, with strong growth expectations. Clearly this is an industry on the rise. They observe:
- Barbers, hairdressers, and cosmetologists: 656,000 employed in 2014, 10% expected growth by 2024
- Manicurists and pedicurists: 113,600 employed in 2014, 10% expected growth by 2024
- Skincare specialists: 55,000 in 2014 with 12% expected growth by 2024. Specific growth expected for businesses serving men
- Massage therapists: 168,800 in 2014 with a whopping 22% growth by 2024!
Avoiding the use of potentially harmful chemicals and the skills required to achieve a professional outcome in hair color ensures this service will remain in the domain of stylists and colorists. The do-it-yourself (DIY) trends have some limitations, and hair color is one of them.
Despite the micro-trend toward natural gray for Boomers, there are still tens of millions of Boomers who wish to color those gray locks.
Men Enter the Beauty Salon
Men's hair coloring and hair removal are two fast-growing segments of this service sector. Men are also more inclined to follow advice of a professional and purchase products from the salon at point of service. One notable trend is sports salons and other places that combine men's interests with styling. Some popular services for men include skin care, coloring and hair waxing.
Overall Outlook and Financing the Modern Beauty Salon
Looking at the data, an owner or potential investor may wish to evaluate some pretty clear secular trends when considering taking a loan for a new beauty salon or financing expansion of an existing salon.
While traditional drivers such as professional coloring and cuts continue to stabilize salons, smaller salons and the mall-based chains are being squeezed out of the market as clients seek a variety of specialty services in larger, diversified salons. At the same time, a large segment of the marketplace is looking for more value in their personal care services; those with families are most inclined to look for value pricing, putting downward pressure on per head service pricing.
The velocity of change in styles driven by social media has put pressure on owners and stylists to learn and adapt at a fast pace. This shift has also made it important to have internet access and media in the salon to evaluate and follow style trends in almost real-time.
Financing a Beauty Salon Interior Renovation/Expansion
Salon owners may wish to consider expansion to accommodate additional services and/or decor renovations to make existing shops more conducive to client demands. Think of the above examples of men gravitating toward sports-themed barber shops and families with small children seeking value-oriented venues. It is becoming more common to see beauty salons creating multi-themed environments to cater to the specific tastes of major client segments.
Understanding what a lender looks for in making a loan is the first thing you should consider when seeking funding for your beauty salon. Your credit profile, which includes your personal and business credit history, are top considerations for lenders.
The other important criterion is your ability to repay your loan. If you ask a bank or other lender to finance your beauty salon, they are going to ask you to show them how you intend to pay them back.