Types of Nail Salons You Can Start

Nail salons are quite common, but they aren’t all the same. From offering different services to targeting a specific clientele, nail salons and day spas can be designed — both structurally and in business plans — very differently from each other. Opening your own nail salon can be a great investment, but it's worth understanding the type of salon you want to own well before you start painting nails or buying supplies.


Traditional Nail Salon

Nail services account for about 16 percent of the U.S. beauty industry’s annual revenue, and nail salons can be quite competitive. If a specific local area has too many or if they all offer competing services, it may prove challenging to set your business apart. This makes proper business planning essential. Offering a creative, distinctive experience and consistently delivering professional customer service, for example, may give you a competitive edge in attracting and retaining customers. To help you decide which type of nail salon is the right fit for you, here’s an overview of the more popular salon business models.

Traditional nail salons, as you may expect, focus on manicures, pedicures, and treating and painting nails. This type of salon is often the most popular among both clients and salon owners because clients know what to expect and owners have numerous successful models to follow. Many traditional salons can hire nail technicians without much specialized training to provide manicures and color changes and then develop and train them to become more specialized.

Traditional nail salons also may experience high customer volume for lower-cost nail services, such as manicures, pedicures, or color changes. In fact, 95 percent of U.S. nail salons offer polish changes and pedicures. The high volume of such services will balance out the lower revenue they generate — especially if you’re in a good location to pick up foot traffic.

Children’s Nail Salon

As the name implies, children's nail salons focus on catering to kids coming to get their nails painted. Often, these salons are combined with regular adult salons that carve out a specific area for children. This way, both parents and kids can enjoy a spa day together.

Green Nail Salon

Green nail salons make a special effort to use less-toxic and more environmentally friendly products and techniques. Green-based products, reduced energy use, enhanced recycling methods, and an overall, ecologically sensitive approach is at the heart of this movement. The general public appreciates such efforts as more consumers recognize that every little bit helps when they consider their legacy and the well-being of their children. Even in the face of rising costs, younger consumers, in particular, are more willing to absorb a cost increase as long as there’s an overall improvement to the community, country, and planet.

Mobile Nail Salon

Mobile nail salons can be an excellent business option for someone in more remote or less densely populated regions. While this business model requires reliable transportation and a vehicle with room for your supplies, it also expands the scope of your customer service.

In addition, mobile salons can serve as an extension of a brick-and-mortar salon. Imagine being able to send a pair of nail technicians, as needed, to a wedding location, a birthday party, or another event just for a fun afternoon of pampering. Traveling does expand your options. Just make sure you'll have the clients to support a mobile operation.

Home Nail Salon

Home nail salons offer a more intimate setting in which to serve clients and can reduce overhead costs on a rented or mortgaged space. Home salons also can offer customers in residential neighborhoods an opportunity to stay close to home instead of traveling into the city or to a more urban area. Owners of home nail salons must be aware of product stocking and will need space for both a storeroom and a dedicated salon area within their residence.

Specialty Artificial Nail Salon

If you’re in an area that can support more high-end fashion choices, you might consider opening a nail salon focused on specialty artificial nails. Nails that are more extravagantly decorated, styled, sculpted, and formed into miniature works of art can be quite popular among clients who tend to dress in a similar way. Highly stylized nails also can cost quite a bit more than a normal acrylic or gel nail job. Owners of this type of salon can price nail sculpting and nail art like an à la carte menu so the cost of each extra gets added to a client’s overall total based on what they decide to have done.

Men’s Nail Salon

One of the more recent trends in salons are salons owned by men or that catering to men's grooming needs. While men haven’t historically represented a large segment of the nail salon client base, a growing number now opt for maintenance services on their hands and feet. As a result, you can now find more masculine options among traditional products, scents, and colors. Sometimes attached to barbershops, this type of salon typically buffs and polishes men’s nails and then cleans and pushes back their cuticles. Foot and deep-tissue massages also are options that more male clients seem to request. This salon model is definitely a trend worth keeping an eye on.

Nail Salon with a Retail Shop

Adding a retail shop to a salon enables clients to buy the same products used by the salon for home use. Lotions, oils, nail treatments, and polish colors can be specific to your retail shop because most stores can’t access the same industry-specific products available to salons. Selling salon-quality products also will help you attract customers who aren't coming in for a nail appointment.

Full-Service Salon

Offering the whole package, full-service salons treat nails, hair, skin, and sore muscles with a variety of combined services. Whether clients visit for a cut and curl, a deep-tissue massage, or a mani-pedi package, full-service salons offer them a wide variety of services in one location. This type of salon works well in areas with fewer competing businesses, yet enough clients to keep the business profitable. However, a shop like this will require a bit more space than most. You also might find yourself partnering with other professionals who specialize in one of the areas of service you plan to offer. Choosing a centralized location also will help ensure customers of all types find their way to your salon.

Conclusion

With so many options to consider when opening a nail salon, it's important to determine which type of salon you want to start and which services you plan to offer. Consider your skills and where you'd like your business to go in three, five, and 10 years. Create a firm business plan, but remain open to new or more innovative ideas. A stagnant business often is the result of a stagnant owner. Understand that success takes perseverance, but don't be afraid to make changes if something isn’t working. Small adjustments to a strong plan can sometimes be the easiest changes for a business to make, but the last to happen out of fear of failure. Nail salons will always have clients. Your job is to figure out how you can build a distinctive, consistent business and grow your client base with your salon.