closing up shop why hair salons are failing

Closing Up Shop: Why Are Hair Salons Failing?

Gone Down Hill

Did you know that in 2017, hair salons were closing left and right? Some even closed without notice. We must ask ourselves, why though? Hair salons used to be one of the greatest places to hang out at, but now it’s almost a thing of the past. It’s also becoming harder to find a good one, and one that you hope stays open. Barbershops and spas are also having similar issues. Running a business is one of the greatest things anyone can do; to be your boss and set the rules. However, it’s not all glitz and glamour though. It’s hard work and takes a lot of dedication. But still, something is wrong if hair salons aren’t lasting like they once did. Below I’ll go through some possible reasons for why hair salons are failing.

Lack of Planning

Have you ever heard of the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” That statement holds a lot of value. Planning, in general, is good but it’s crucial when it’s a business venture. When it comes to hair salons, many things need to be thought out. Business owners should ask themselves why they want their business in the first place. Knowing your ‘why” and what your purpose is will give you a starting point. Even before picking out locations for a shop, you should ask yourself why that location. You should compare taxes in different areas, crime rates, etc. Even when it comes to staffing, a plan should be in place to follow. How will you find the right people for the position, will you train them or do they need to come trained, etc. If you don’t prepare yourself for what is up ahead, then you will lose every time. When you have a business, you must have a game plan set up to follow. You can’t just figure everything out as it comes. The reason why so many shops abruptly close are likely due to them not planning and preparing for what may come ahead. They lost somewhere, and it got too late. Don’t let that be you, always prepare, so you stay ready.

Lack of Finances

Too often, people begin a business with the intent that as soon as it starts, millions are going to begin rolling in. Now, there’s nothing wrong with claiming greatness over your life, but you also have to be realistic to a point. Starting a business is serious business! There are all sorts of reasons why you will need financial backing. You will need to save money first, to start the business and you will continue to need money throughout the entire time you have the business. Running a hair salon isn’t cheap. You will need to fund every single thing within the shop, keep the electric and other bills paid, along with having a cushion in case something major happens. When items run low, or things need to be replaced, the salon owner has to fulfill those needs. Unfortunately, running a hair salon for some can become overwhelming. I’m sure sometimes owners wake up realizing that they may have taken on too much too soon. Then, bills get pilled up, and before they know it, they have to close the shop.


When you walk into most hair salons, which person is typically occupying the first chair? The owner is! In most cases, the salon owner also does hair, but one has to think, who else is running the show? It’s not a terrible thing that the owner is also working, but salons can fail because of poor leadership and management. Some owners have someone specifically running the business behind the scenes, but it’s crucial that they have someone they trust. A lot of businesses fail because the one at the top is running everything to the ground. Bad management will have the bills late, inventory messed up and bad follow up procedures. Some salons owners need to make sure they are fully aware of all parts of their company.

Poor Leadership

Many believe that just because they own the title of a leader, that it makes them one. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Leadership begins at the very top and trickles all the way and comes with many skills. One common issue that many salons face is having a high turn over rate. One-day there are great hair stylists, and the next, they're gone. How an owner keeps the moral of their business is very important. Although a hair stylist has the responsibility of getting their clientele, they still need to be treated right within the shop. Some owners don’t understand their employee's needs, some are too hard on them, and some just aren’t great leaders. Wanting to see your team win, pushing to better your employees and being supportive are great attributes for leadership. Because hair stylists are also the face of the company, it’s important that they feel valued too. Salon owners should always make sure they are taking care of those around them if they want to succeed and have a flourishing business.

Bad Stylist

Because having great hairstylist should always be the salon owner’s top priority. Stylists are a direct representation of the owner. If they believe they provide great service and have great skills, they also must make sure those around them do too. Sometimes salon owners don’t make sure they have the best employees. They have employees who don’t do great work and don’t have good work ethics. If an owner has a stylist who is always late to work and makes their customers wait, those customers will eventually stop coming to the shop. They also will spread the word about their bad experience, which of course will bring negative reviews against the shop. Management needs to make sure things like that don’t happen. Without a great team of stylist, a hair salon won’t go very far.

Bad Effects

One bad effect of operating a salon with poor leadership is the effect of the customer’s experience. That’s right! A salon may not notice it, but customers can pick up on energy from the salon. They are well aware of all the employees that get along or not. They can sense attitudes of the stylists as well, and know things aren't right. Customers only want to be able to get their hair done in a peaceful setting.

Poor Marketing

A lot of people believe starting a hair salon is simple. They rent or buy space, buy a few essential things, and do hair all day. What many don’t realize is that before they get to the “doing hair all day” part they must have customers! If salon owners look at the bigger picture, marketing their business is rule number two. (Of course, planning is number one.) How is the world going to know about your salon if you don't do any marketing? As mentioned earlier, finances play a major role in owning a business, and marketing takes money. You have to invest time and money into different ways that will spread the word about your business. Different marketing plans such as commercials, billboards, and flyers are just a few ways. A big reason salons close down is because they simply didn’t have the clientele. They could have had the greatest stylist in the world along with a great shop set up, but if no one comes inside or there’ not enough people, then it’s not going to last. Marketing for a hair salon typically is done in two ways; the owner has to market the actual hair salon, and the stylist has to market their selves. Both sides have to work hard at spreading the word about the salon and what they do to thrive. A booming hair salon just doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time. There should also be a detailed marketing plan put in place before the business opens.

First Impressions

First impressions are more valuable than hair salons even think. As soon as a customer walks through their door, that’s the same moment they should feel welcomed and valuable. I can’t tell you how many hair salons I have been in where I walked in the door, and no one greets me or asks if I have an appointment or even how I’m doing. So before I even get seated in a chair, I already know I’m not returning because of how I got treated. Some salons feel as if the customer owes them something when it’s always the other way around. First impressions are important simply because they only happen one time. Salon owners sometimes should take a step back and put themselves in their customer’s shoes and see the kind of treatment they need. Otherwise, they will continue to have low retention, which means bad business and eventually closure.

Lack of Support

As mentioned earlier, running a business isn’t always the easiest thing. There will be long nights, early mornings, good and bad days. Throughout the journey, it’s important for salon owners to have support. Some believe that they don’t need anyone to help them get to the top when in fact, that’s the fastest way not to get anywhere. All people and businesses need support to help get over certain hurdles.

Failure to Adapt to Change

You always hear people say that one thing we all should be aware and expect is change. Nothing last forever and nothing ever will. A lot of salons fail because they don’t know how to adapt to change. Owning a salon isn’t easy and every day won’t be easy or even every year. But when faced with adversity, owners must know how to handle it so they can progress. One big misconception that many owners face is the reality that business will always be busy. Each salon will experience the different changes that seasons bring. Some months out the year may be steady and busy while others are slow. There may even be times when you have several great years, and then all of a sudden business is slow. When that happens, many owners think it means it’s time to close the doors. They don’t realize that’s a temporary phase. Even when something unexpected occurs, it doesn’t mean that the salon has to close. A salon may have to experience a time when they need a new hair stylist. Maybe they feel their team isn’t the best. Some may not know how to handle that or even be able to communicate to others that there is an issue. Not understanding that all things aren’t perfect or will always be smooth is a fast way for a hair salon to fail.

Low Client Retention

Low client retention is often a reason why hair salons fail. Some believe that once they have a customer in their chair and satisfies them, then they have done their part. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Salon owners have to figure out ways to keep their customers coming back over and over. They should offer discounts, have a referral program in place and even offer special services to them. Once a customer is in their chair, they have only done half the work. Some owners don’t research their customers. They should get involved in their customer's life and find out things they like. Showing interest in the customer goes far. They also should research on how customers think and how to keep them in general. I believe some salons loose focus on how important a customer truly is. Without customers in their shop, the shop is nothing. You can’t run a hair salon without anyone getting his or her hair done.

Competition Mindset

Many salon owners carry the mindset around that they are competing against the salon up the street. They go out of their way to try and be the best when in reality, their only competition is the one looking back at them in the mirror. The hair salon industry needs more support amongst each other. Why can’t all salons help each other to grow? It should be a community website or yearly event where they all come together and network instead of trying to be against one other. Salons fail because owners don’t always know how to put their ego and pride to the side. If there’s a salon that isn’t doing great, they should be able to call another salon and see if they can help in any way.

No Mentorship

Having different types of support is very important when running a hair salon business. Owners should make sure they have a mentor by their side too. Mentors have many benefits but most important; they help keep you on track. When your mentor is someone who comes from the same field as you, you're likely to be more equipped. Like I mentioned earlier, owners cannot have a successful salon all by their selves. Having lack of support can only hurt them in the long run.

Lack of Diversity

A common issue that many salons experience is that they all end up being the same. Running a hair salon and being compared to the shop around the corner is not a good look. Many salons fail because they aren’t trying to do anything outside the box. They aren’t looking for different ways to keep their customer from going to the shop next door. When salons are basic, they aren’t going to get far. Before a salon opens, the owner should have a vision in mind on how they will change the hair salon industry. They should be making an effort to be different and stand out. Otherwise, they fit in, and they leave customers with too much room to choose who they want styling their hair. Some salons aren’t doing their research to find out what other shops aren’t doing. They should stay far away from anything that’s normal or has a long track record. Salons fail because they don’t offer change to an already over-saturated industry.

Free Resources for Everyone

Another reason hair salons fail is that the information needed to know how to do hair is easy to access. More and more people are teaching themselves how to do hair. They are taking the information they researched and starting their own business, in their homes and training others. Back in the day, people would beg others to teach them how to do hair because they couldn’t afford to go to school. Now, you can find all the information you need on hair, within seconds. So folks are saving their money and doing things their way, which means there’s not much of a need for regular hair salons.

Social Media Took Over

We’re just going, to be honest for a second here, okay? Social media as we know it has taken over the beauty world. It has gone from a place that was once known for posting basic photos to people creating a business from it. Sadly, more salons are closing because they can’t keep up with the direction of social media. We live in a time where people believe that if your follower count is high, that means you’re the best at your craft. So the hair salons that have the best customer service, the best hairstylist and prices but only has 500 followers, get overlooked. However, the higher follower accounts don’t nearly offer as much and most likely paid for their followers, get chosen. Yes, you can purchase followers and mislead people. How can salons flourish under those types of standards? It’s just downright hard is what it is.

Poor Customer Service

The fact of the matter is, without customer existence a hair salon would be nothing. Too many times owners don’t value their customer’s time or money. They don’t show customer appreciation nor do they respect all their customers. Many salons fail because they lose focus on what is truly important. They forget why they started and to focus on the money. We all have experienced poor customer service at hair salons and know that it doesn’t feel good. Too many customers come on time to their appointments just to wait another hour because someone else needed to go first because of whatever reason. We also get treated as if we’re doing the shop a favor. Salon owners need to take a hard look at what their foundation is and begin to rebuild better customer experience.

Closing Up The Doors

There you have it, reasons why so many hair salons today are failing. Some reasons are from their faults while others are just hard to swallow. Running a hair salon in today’s world is much harder than it was decades ago. Owners can’t follow the same rulebook they once had. A famous saying is “if you have always done the same things, then you will always get the same results.” As social media progresses and time moves on, so should hair salons. They should never stop trying to be the best and to learn along the way. Let me know in the comment section if you learned anything from this list that could help your hair salon or business!
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