Next to launching a salon, planning a major renovation is the biggest project and costliest expense any salon owner can face. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know before taking the plunge.

161116 SalonRenos main

Tip #1: Make Sure the Timing Is Right

“My business wasn’t growing the way I wanted it to in order to offer my staff better opportunities, so I had to retool my business model and build a new salon where there was a progressive way to work,” says Dana Lyseng, owner of Supernova Salon in North Vancouver, who took home the Contessa award for Interior Design in 2016. “Essentially, we were filling an emergency situation instead of growing the proper way. Since we’ve moved, we went from six people to a team of 24, and I am finally able to implement an education program when I hire people, effectively giving them what they need to be really confident and happy behind the chair.”

“Even if our decor was still current, we had been in the same location for 14 years, tweaking stuff along the way and making do with the old floor plan—and only three sinks!” says Olivier Miotto, co-owner of Glam Salon Boutique in Montreal and a Contessa Session Hairstylist winner in 2014. “We clearly needed to start from scratch.” Creating a fully functional space was the starting point for a super-efficient renovation project that was completed under six weeks flat.

Tip #2: Have a Vision

“I worked with a business coach to build a strategic plan on how to move a business while keeping my staff and my clients. My team and I had a ton of meetings where we addressed what they needed, and I became their advocate. Before the renovation project, I had been running my business as a boss, but you need to be more of a caring parent to build a successful business. I decided on very clear goals based on that.” – Lyseng

“Make a list of what you love and don’t, based on functionality and comfort. Favour things that are timeless and never too trendy, so they can evolve well over time. The interior design needs to communicate your identity so that the new salon really represents who you and your team are as creative people. Start a vision board on Pinterest and work on it every week before you come to a final decision regarding a look or mood.” – Miotto

Tip #3: Plan, Plan, Plan

“We rolled out our marketing plan on our social media platforms and through our newsletter, telling our clients we were moving only two weeks before the date, which made things quick and efficient,” says Lyseng. Added bonus: You don’t need to explain anything to anybody if the job is delayed.

“Change is never isolated. Expect things to continue evolving even after the big reno is completed. You and your staff will adjust to your new salon by creating fresh routines and pinpointing other things you wish to transform. We just installed a new software system and changed our hair colour brand, too.” — Miotto

“It’s notoriously difficult to find financing in the salon industry. I worked with a broker who had a very good relationship with banks.” – Lyseng

“We planned our renovations in January, when things are super- slow in the salon. But since we couldn’t afford to stay closed for five weeks, we found a big salon in downtown Montreal [O Coiffure & Spa at Ogilvy] that was generous enough to let us work within their premises during that time. It was amazing to see how welcoming and kind they were to share their space. We had our own Interac payment system and brought along all our products.” — Miotto

Tip #4: Ask the Right Questions

Those who have renovated their salon know it’s better to ask a few additional questions before and during the renovation process to save big on time and money. Here’s a quick checklist of questions that you might not have thought about asking but are certainly worth the effort:

  • Do you really need that expensive Carrara marble counter in the kitchen, which is hidden from clients, or would laminate
  • be okay? “People will try to sell you a Ferrari when all you need is an Audi,” says Lyseng.
  • Is your new dream location accessible, and does it offer better parking options?
  • How much cushion space should I give to my budget? Overinflate your contingency budget by 20 per cent. Everything always ends up being much more expensive than originally planned.
  • How can I meet my goal while staying under budget? Sensible planning will take you a long way. You can always bring your vision to life within a more modest budget, so nix the flashy finishes and ultra-luxe bells and whistles.
  • What happens if the contractor doesn't meet the deadline? Always have a backup plan—that way you’ll have options if your contractor can’t finish the job on time.
  • Can you really afford to overlook the retail section, which brings in that important extra revenue, when rehauling your salon? “We hired Tuxedo, a marketing agency that specializes in retail spaces, to create a beautiful and effective way for us to showcase our take-home products,” says Miotto.

Four Secrets for Reno Success

Isabelle Lessard, a salon and spa designer at Lanvain Design in Montreal, shares her top tips on how to achieve a successful renovation project:

  1. Work with a designer who understands the needs of your particular salon and will implement a course of action to create a new space that will meet your objectives.
  2. Allot 40 per cent of your renovation budget to furniture, and 60 per cent for construction.
  3. Make sure that you work with a design firm that is either specialized in salon and spa remodelling and design or has had enough clients in that field to give it the expertise you need.
  4. Be flexible enough to allow modifications along the way. Remember: A salon designer is an expert in his or her field whose goal is to implement solutions that will help make the best of the work environment for your staff and clients.


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