How to Open a Nail Salon: A Checklist for First-Time Nail Salon Owners

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For nail techs researching how to open a nail salon—you’ve come to the right place. Although there’s a long list of steps to take before making that kind of bold entrepreneurial move, several Booksy providers offered a few tips on the subject. Each one of them successfully overcame obstacles to open the doors to their own nail salon, and their businesses are all thriving. 

COVID-19 without a doubt had a negative impact on the beauty industry. But nail salons in the United States were worth 6.5 billion in 2020, according to researchers. And that number is expected to grow by 9% every year through 2025 to a value of $22.6 billion. Now that health officials have lowered restrictions, the demand for nail services is growing at a rapid pace. 

Keep reading to hear from several Booksy Ambassadors who understand the value of the nail industry and decided to create rock-solid business plans that became the foundation for their success. Learn from these industry juggernauts who moved swiftly through the red tape of permits and licenses to design the spaces of their dreams. And find out how to open a nail salon from scratch but succeed in the process. 


Creating a Nail Salon Business Plan

About two years ago, Shante` Stewart changed careers to become her own boss and run her own salon. Today, she’s a Booksy Community Advisory Board Member and winner of several industry awards. From inside her at-home nail suite, the first year she started using Booksy, Shante` increased her revenue by 213%, and her total number of clients rose by 154%.

Shante` attributes her success in the nail industry to the fact that she created a business plan early on. And that meant setting goals and working to achieve them. Specifically, budgeting was at the top of her list, when it came time to establish and follow a clear plan. Applying budgeting skills early in her career helped Shante become more financially independent and grow as a business owner, she said.

Her keen budgeting insights led Shante` to also take advantage of the Stats & Reports tool in the Booksy app. Business owners can review and track financial details broken down into easily accessible graphs and charts. Shante` used the Stats & Reports tool to analyze her business spending, while tracking different trends and adjusting the prices of her more popular services.

Understanding Nail Salon Profitability

Another important topic to consider, when answering the question of how to open a nail salon involves profits. Booksy Ambassador Jeany Perez is a seasoned industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. Her nail art has been published in major magazines, and her Central Florida based nail salon is thriving. Jeany believes that anyone interested in opening a nail salon should start by asking an important question: is opening a nail salon profitable?

Jeany said that employing successful business strategies is a huge step when it comes to understanding profits and finding ways to earn more. For instance, cross-selling is a technique that she uses, which encourages her customers to schedule services in addition to buying products to increase her profits. At her boutique, clients book nail services, massages, makeup application services, and VIP-style events. Jeany also sells products and clothing accessories.

Considering Nail Salon Locations

Jeany continued by stating that when it comes time to open a business, it’s also necessary to consider the location. Will the nail salon be on Park Avenue or on Main Street? With the power of social media, nail techs can market themselves like never before from any location, which means there’s more options in regards to locations for someone who wants to open a nail salon. 

Different types of locations can all be profitable, because of the diversity in the industry. Think about whether or not the nail business will function as a booth inside of an already established salon or within a private salon suite. A nail salon owner could open the doors to a new space by renovating a building. But it’s also possible to build from the ground up, Jeany said. 


Estimating the Cost of Opening a Nail Salon

The financial side of opening a nail salon may seem daunting, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Booksy Ambassador Erica Figueroa said leasing a nail salon usually requires a security deposit. It can also involve paying a few months of upfront rent. And that price will rise if the salon owner is renting in a busy urban area. But that same space could encourage more foot traffic via walk-ins. 

With leasing, it’s important to perform a ton of research. Compare locations while remembering that an isolated, private space generally means fewer walk-ins. Other costs related to opening a nail salon are more straightforward. New salon owners should anticipate spending between $40,000 to $250,000 to purchase an existing salon. And it’s about $100,000 to $500,000 for anyone who wants to build a salon from the ground up. 

Purchasing Nail Salon Furniture and Designs

When it comes down to answering the question of how much does it cost to open a nail salon in the United States—there’s also furniture and design. Costs relating to furniture and design depend largely on the tastes and style of the business owner, which can range from $10,000 to $30,000, said Erica.

She added that since she wanted a more upscale aesthetic, her furniture was on the pricier side, as she paid over $30,000. But for her, it was well worth it, because the luxurious furniture and design makes her clients feel more lavish. And that helps clients feel more comfortable pampering themselves on services they still consider to be an affordable luxury, she said.

Investing in Nail Salon Equipment and Products

When opening a nail salon, it’s important to take equipment into consideration. And that’s partly because the cost for equipment can range just as dramatically as other expenses. “If you want to be the type of salon that uses the top equipment, products, and supplies that are very popular in the industry, it can be very expensive to get everything ready and on hand,” Erica said.

For example, manicure stations can vary in cost. But expect to spend between $200 to $800 each station. Those same stations are important, because they shelve polishes, brushes, and tools. One of the heftier price tags comes with purchasing pedicure chairs, which costs anywhere between $2,000 to $7,000. And drying lamps are also necessary supplies. Salon owners should expect to pay $25 to $300 for professional UV or LED drying lamps.


Obtaining Nail Salon Education and Licenses 

One of the more detailed pieces of advice in regards to answering the question of how to open a nail salon, involves obtaining a business license, attending cosmetology school, and purchasing insurance. Booksy Ambasador Lila Bellemare said learning as much as possible through continuing education programs and independent practice were two of her best teachers.

However, the costs related to earning a license are pretty straightforward, even though the prices will vary in different states. Most nail salon owners must obtain a state-issued cosmetology license. Additionally, nail salon owners will need a general business license. Check individual state requirements for more details. And find out if your state requires a nail salon owner to attend an approved beauty school. At times, an apprenticeship program may suffice. 

The requirements for continuing education courses or units, along with license renewal will also vary. But most nail tech programs range from $3,000 to $5,000. And that includes textbooks and supplies. With regards to education, prices will vary in different parts of the country. 

Activating Nail Salon Software 

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the designs that Lila creates, she’s been in the industry for eight years. And during that time she’s absolutely mastered the art of creating intricate nail art, while running an at-home nail salon. To help manage her business, she relies on Booksy, and she said that anyone considering opening a nail salon should activate a Booksy Profile today. 

First and foremost, as a business owner, Lila needed to consistently eliminate no-shows and last minute cancellations. She uses the Booksy No-Show Protection feature to help her charge clients an upfront fee, every time a customer books an appointment. That fee is a percentage of the service the client books. And Lila also applies a cancellation fee to further reduce no-shows or last-minute cancellations. The end result for Lila has been hassle-free booking. 

Another feature that Booksy offers, which Lila recommends using, is called Message Blasts. With this feature, Lila is able to keep in touch with all of her clients in just a few clicks. She can better promote her services, keep clients informed about scheduling changes, or simply reach out to say hello in a customized mass message to all of her clients at once.


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