Building the Perfect Nail Salon: Keep Your Clients Happy & Grow Your Business

Building the Best Nail Salon: Everything You Need to Build Up The Best Salon

If you’re a real nail art aficionado, always being inspired to come up with new, innovative designs, and who regularly has friends turning up for a manicure, now is the perfect time to make that transition from DIYer to nail salon owner. What better way to combine your passion with making an income, and with the nail industry bringing in more than $5 billion in annual revenue and growing exponentially, there are plenty of opportunities for new entrepreneurs to break in to the salon business.

The Business Model

The business model, or plan, for breaking into the nail industry is pretty straightforward, and follows a tried and tested route. You’ll need an operator’s license, suitable premises, equipment and supplies, and then it’s a case of bringing in clients, managing your resources, and work on your image in order to attract more clients. The more time you plan this, covering all eventualities, the better prepared you’ll be when it comes to actually open your doors for business.

Think about what other services you can offer, too, such as waxing or painfree laser hair removal. This allows you to cover more bases when it comes to drawing people in. If they come for the manicures, they’ll remember that you can remove body hair next time they need it doing.

Obtaining the Necessary Licenses and Qualifications

The licensing and qualifications criteria vary from state to state, but generally, you’re likely to need business and premises documentation, insurance, and a bank account. You’ll also be required to register for taxes, and depending on where your business is situated, a Cosmetology License. This is what allows you to practice as a manicurist, and you can find more information at the American Association of Cosmetology Schools.

If you’re not sure what is required in your area, contact a local business attorney or check with your local government.

Target Market

The nail art industry has taken off in a big way in recent years, with more and more people, mainly women, appreciating that a good manicure, not only looks amazing but can make a real difference to how they feel and also how the world sees and treats them.
Such a person is willing to spend money to achieve the look they desire, and if they go away happy, will spread the word amongst their peer group – the perfect free advertising!

Defining Your Brand

Now you have your paperwork, the legalities and your premises sorted, it’s time for the fun stuff.

Visit other salons that attract the type of clientele you want to come through your doors. Look at their color schemes, layout, and equipment. Try to take photos, pick up brochures to study later, and look at their prices for guidelines.

You already have your salon name (come on, that was the first thing you decided, admit it!), and now you have to consider the image you want to portray. You’ve thought about your target market and know the style of salon they frequent, now you need your salon to be attractive to them.

Clients visit salons to experience the pampering, relaxation and the attention to detail given by their manicurist, and it’s the little things that matter. Make sure your coffee is the best you can get, and always have a choice of cookies. Many salons have wall-mounted TVs playing either music videos, or day time shows,  but you need to ensure your screen is mounted at a comfortable angle for your clients – having a sore neck won’t garner good reviews! While you’re playing with the high tech salon additions – you should have free WiFi to offer your clients. Speak to your provider to arrange this.

It also pays to have a website and social media presence, branded stationery, business cards, and so on, all following the branding you choose.


Deciding on the equipment you’ll require is important, and the list will grow as your business does. But for starters, you’ll definitely need:

  • Manicure Table – Having a stable base to deal with client’s hands is crucial
  • Manicure Chair – Important for you and your client’s comfort
  • Manicure Table Lighting – Good lighting is important
  • Curing Lamp – A curing lamp is necessary for gel and acrylic polishes
  • Manicure Tools – You’ll need a set of professional clippers, files, and more
  • Nail Drill – With the ability to file, style and remove old polish, a nail drill allows you to work faster and more efficiently.
  • Nail Polish Rack – You need to display the polishes for the client to choose
  • Nail Polish – A mix of colors and types gives your client plenty of choice. You can also sell polishes (and other products) to increase your income.

Once you’ve decorated and equipped your new salon, got the advertising and branding covered, and are ready to open the doors, sit down for a sec and take stock.
Look at what you’ve achieved so far, how hard you’ve worked to reach this stage, and be proud of yourself. You can do this, taking it to the next stage, and making your salon work for you. Above all – enjoy!

For more information, including the legalities, click here, and for some hints and tips from others who’ve started a successful nail business – watch this


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