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How to start a lucrative salon business in Kenya?

A man is cutting a women hair using a comb and a scissor in a Kenya salon
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Real estate property values may fall, retirement funds may diminish, economies of scale can collapse, and exotic viruses may spread unchecked. But starting a salon business in Kenya is one of the best ideas.

But despite humanmade and natural disasters, what we can all agree on that stays stagnant is the fact that hair still grows, and hair care is still important.

So, it doesn’t matter what condition the economy of the world is in.

It’s always an excellent opportunity to consider how to start a salon business in Kenya because the prospects for “shear” success in the country are excellent.

And the reason is that many of the services & equipment offered by salons can’t be copied at home, or at least not duplicated well.

There are three primary methods by which you can positively impact to start a salon business in Kenya.

You can start a hair salon business by working under someone else’s well-respected name (which guarantees a good reputation from the jump).

It also provides you with extensive marketing tools (like advertising campaigns).

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You can purchase an already existing salon venture from someone who is on their way out of the industry.

You can establish your salon and buy new equipment using your own money, allowing your ingenuity, hard work, and optimism win out.

What services are typically offered in hair salons?

Before we get into the multitude of things that go into how to open a beauty salon business in Kenya.

So let’s take a look at the numerous services that you need to start considering.

The most popular services involve haircutting as well as skillful hair styling.

This includes the more unique hairstyles made with blow dryers, curling irons, hair and scalp treatments with hair braiding being another area of its own.

Most salons tend to focus primarily on this particular service.

But there’s no reason you can’t offer it to your salon as a bonus.

However, it is a very time-consuming service, and many salons tend to have two or more stylists on hand for this kind of work.

Finally, there is also hairstyling specifically for special events like weddings.

It is important to note that these services are on the premise that you will be establishing a full-service salon in Kenya.

However, take into consideration that the number of special services & equipment you provide need not be as thorough.

And can be limited by the proficiency of the help you hire, the training you can offer, and your overall financial budget.

Getting started:

1. Formal training for staff and employees

These days, nine months of beauty school in Kenya is not sufficient to teach.

And fully coach young hairdressers to meet industry requirements and fulfill consumer demands in the cut-throat salon market.

Also, especially if they want to work in upscale salons, charging upscale prices.

This is because the beauty school curriculum is to simply prepare young hairdressers with the basic skills needed to qualify.

They don’t tend to teach students all the skills they’ll need to thrive in an adapting and competitive business environment successfully.

Lack of hands-on mastery—especially when it comes to skillful haircut & styling methods, proper equipment use, good customer relations.

And a number of other crucial skills— can make it a difficult industry to thrive in successfully.

This is why the need to start your salon’s training program has been growing of late and is a cost-effective and valuable way to develop young talent.

Who’ll meet customer demands without compromising your high-quality services and client retention efforts?

Suppose you can find a local professional who has all these skills.

On a day to day basis, they can slowly train your other inexperienced hairdressers to build self-confidence and gain valuable hands-on work experience.

All while working in a relaxed and professional salon environment.

2. Put together a solid business plan

A salon business plan effectively allows an entrepreneur well to develop a solid action plan for a building.

To grow, or to revive a salon venture in Kenya or anywhere for that matter.

For instance, a new salon business plan involves factors such as company image, salon location, equipment costs, hair care services, and pricing.

As well as assessing competitor positioning and future growth.

Typically, a business strategy is put down into a written document and is basically like a roadmap.

The business plan must illustrate current status, expected needs, projected results of new business, and every aspect of venture needs to describe.

This does help you navigate through your business and find achievable ways to reach your goals.

The most advisable way to make use of it is to set dates on your calendar to review and revise it quarterly.

This keeps you in line as you aim to meet your salon’s business goals.

And also means that if you need to get a bank loan in the future.

You’re well prepared to answer any of the important questions they are sure to ask.

For those who need to start, here’s what’s usually cover in a typical business plan:

  • Brand image, future goals, and prospects
  • What makes your venture unique, as compared to your competitors
  • Financial goals
  • Estimated running costs services, equipment purchases, pricing strategy, and revenue streams
  • Target market and what attracts them
  • Positioning and marketing strategy

This might look like a long, tedious list.

Still, given all the extra details like equipment costs, wages, etc…

You need to get start your salon business strategy in tip-top shape and provide you with the best chance to face Kenya’s local competition in the booming salon industry successfully.

3. Funding

On average, starting a salon in Kenya will require a capital of roughly KES 75,000 to KES 150,000.

This is where the value of having a salon business plan comes very handy and pays dividends.

Many entrepreneurs get their projects financed by Kenya’s local banks or venture capitalists after they show promising and concrete business plans.

Plus, if you have the necessary collateral, credit history, and evidence of business stability, you can visit a local provider.

Some of the available bank and commercial lenders you can pursue include:

  • Equity Group Holdings.
  • Housing Finance Company (HFC) Ltd.
  • Family Bank.
  • Chase Bank.
  • Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
  • Barclays Bank.
  • Standard Chartered Bank.

However, if you are unable or unwilling to go through the lengthy process of meeting potential lenders or no collateral to support your application.

Then there’s also a number of digital financing options available to small business enterprises in Kenya.

Some of these local mobile/web-based financing options include; M-Shwari, M-Co-op Cash, KCB M-Pesa, Equitel, Tala, Saida, Zidisha, etc.

These are alternatives that are easier to qualify for and offer much quicker loan approval turnaround times, compared to going for the traditional bank route.

4. Licensing & Permits

If you plan on setting up a salon business in Kenya, you have to follow all the legal procedures.

The permits that are issued are for the identification and registration of a business.

Having a certified salon business reduces the risk of closure by allowing you to have a smooth running of your salon business without facing harassment from the local county council officials.

On average, a single business permit in Kenya will cost you about KES 15,000.

5. Location

It is best to locate your Kenyan salon somewhere with high foot traffic for the best possible visibility.

However, this means that the cost of these areas translates to high rent prices and probably goodwill requirements.

Location is also of utmost importance because it can also influence the salon’s ability to market itself.

A salon business based on an active road is more likely to be noticed and garner new clients than a business in an unnoticeable side street.

Moreover, a salon’s location can affect the competition it faces from other hairdressers in the same area.

For instance, basing your salon business in an upscale Kenyan neighborhood like Muthaiga or Karen might have hairdressers.

That has over time already but a loyal clientele, while locating in a slightly less high end.

Still, bustling locations such as South C, Westlands or Parklands, can allow you to capture new prospective clients easier.

6. Equipment

When trying to figure out the things needed to start a salon.

You don’t necessarily have to buy a lot of equipment and products.

As all you need are the basic hair cutting and styling essentials.

You will also need to purchase salon equipment like; sinks, chairs, wall-mounted mirrors, and reception furniture, such as a desk and sofas or seating for clients who are waiting for their appointments.

When it comes to getting all this, the costs can tend to add up.

So make sure you factor all this into your startup costs.

In regards to the furniture, the best thing to do is spare no expense in purchasing quality seating since these are essential in keeping your clients comfortable.

And guarantees that they have a relaxed experience in your salon.

Here’s a simple and general breakdown of the cost of salon equipment in Kenya:

  • Hairstyling chairs/barber chairs – KES 20,000.
  • Hairstyling tools – KES 30,000.
  • Shampoo bowls: KES 10,000.
  • Water heater: KES 3,000.
  • Towels and aprons – KES 3,000.
  • Transport and miscellaneous – KES 5,000.

You can source all this beauty salon equipment and more from reputable salon suppliers in Kenya.

Do not forget to perform comparison shopping before complete your equipment purchases as you should ensure that you are receiving quality equipment that you and your staff can use for a long time to come.

7. Customer Service

In today’s competitive and changing business market, as a salon entrepreneur.

One of the primary factors you must consider to kick off your business successfully is finding and keeping committed.

So people who share your vision and genuinely want to exceed your own and your clients’ expectations.

This is such a crucial and important factor to keep in mind as your salon’s future.

And growth depends heavily on your staff members’ dependability and efficiency in regard to work performance.

They have to satisfy and in some cases, exceed their client expectations in order to keep them coming back and encourage referrals for customers’ friends, relatives, and business associates.

After all, post-of-mouth referrals will always be your cheapest and best form of advertising.

Especially in Kenya’s salon industry dominated primarily by customer satisfaction.

8. Availability

Although you may still be in the budding stages of planning your new salon.

You should also consider some of the specific operational issues that can normally affect the success of your given venture.

To start with, you have to take into consideration the number of hours of operation carefully that will allow you to accommodate the maximum number of customers on a business day.

It’s pretty common knowledge that the beauty business isn’t a typical 9-to-5 kind of gig.

Generally speaking, start a salon business in Kenya tend to be open seven days a week and even on some holidays.

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This is primarily because being a service business, and salons cater to their clientele when they are available.

It’s during the late evenings, weekends, or holidays that are often the only time a busy professional or mother can get away for some personal hair care.

Typically, hair salons in most Kenyan localities are open from 8 A.M. to 9 P.M, six days a week.

Most of the time, Sunday and holiday hours often are the same as those of other local businesses and generally run from noon to 5 P.M.

Moreover, around noon and early evening hours can be the busiest times for salons.

This is something you need to keep in mind when recruiting staff and hairstylists.

As you need employees who are willing to work flexible work hours and aren’t inconvenienced by the late schedules at times.

9. Pricing your services

Another important part of starting a salon in Kenya is pricing your services appropriately.

If they are too expensive, then you’ll limit the number of people who can afford them.

If the prices are set too low, you’ll end up limiting your profit potential and risking the salon business.

You also have to consider that demographics and location can also influence your salon business prices.

If the location is in areas such as Lavington, Runda, Karen, or Muthaiga.

Which primarily comprised of high earning families in high-end homes with more disposable income.

Then you can comfortably price your services accordingly.

However, if the given locality primarily comprises of a low to middle class demographic like Kitengela, South C, Kawangware, etc..

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Then you’ll have to concentrate instead on basic haircutting, affordably priced braiding services, and manicures.

Moreover, you need also to remember that setting prices in the salon industry goes beyond just visiting other hairdressers in your target market and pricing your services, so they’re competitive.

Rather, you must also consider other factors that will influence your prices.

This includes; equipment costs, labor and supplies, overhead, and profit.

Labor costs for salons generally cover, salary, and benefits for your employees with your salary also included as a part of this cost.

This cost can come as a price per hour fee or as a monthly wage to start a salon business in Kenya.

So it can vary depending on what business model suits you best.

And the amount of time it takes your workers to cut hair, braid, or conduct other hair care services.

This is where having a salon business plan once again comes extremely handy.

10. Promotion and Advertising

Next on your initial list of things to focus on is presenting your salon & equipment services to prospective clients and advertising them to reach your target well demographic.

One of the best ways of doing this is by creating a salon services & equipment menu.

This should handle the moment you determine what services you plan to offer and how much you intend to price them.

Moreover, since it can give potential clients, it can also be used as an advertising tool to generate pre-opening buzz about the salon business.

Other marketing tactics you can use include; utilizing social media, offering promotional discounts, etc.

Additionally, you can also think of getting someone to help you design a logo for the salon.

It can be on your equipment, salon signs, promotional materials, etc.

It should have a unique design to stand alone without the name of your salon attached.

It’s best to pick something that effectively evokes your brand visibly when prospective clients see it.

Conclusion:

A question you may now be asking yourself is, is starting a salon business in Kenya is a good business?

If executed well, a startup a salon in Kenya can net you up to Sh240,000 per year on average, so yes, it is.

However, do keep in mind that in the end, salons are all about image.

You need to start focussing on this in the beginning.

The clients are also all about the image when they’re seeking out services.

Try not to set your salon’s image according to your personal preference.

But instead, pick something that defines your target customer and builds an image that will appeal to them.

You want clients you click with, who appreciate your services, value your hair equipment, and are happy to spend money and spread the good word to friends.