Booth Renting 101 Guide

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If you're a new or seasoned beauty and wellness professional and are thinking of becoming a booth renter, you need to know about some of the overlooked or hidden costs and supplies of booth renting.

As a business owner, and yes, renting a booth is owning your own business, you have two options to consider: do you work in a salon or spa with all the amenities provided for you or do you consider diving in and renting a mini salon in a Salon Suite setting?

Each situation has its pros and cons and depending on where you are in your career and how much of the entrepreneurial spirit runs through your veins, will determine which is the best fit for you.

What To Expect With Salon Suites

Salon suites made their way onto the scene several years ago and has reinvented the way beauty and wellness professionals work for themselves. Salon suites offer professionals the opportunity of owning their own business by renting mini salons without the burden of the large upfront costs and risks associated with opening a standalone salon or spa. Suites are typically ideal for booth renters or commission technicians with an established clientele who want to take their business to the next level.

Salon suites offer complete autonomy while giving you the opportunity to work with other creatives. Many people partner with another professional to help offset some of the costs. This may mean two of you are working in the space at the same time or you can co-create your schedule, where you work a certain number of days a week and your partner works the other days. The best part of renting is that you are in control of how you want to structure your business. You’re the boss!

  • Product & Materials: When renting a mini salon from a salon suite, you are responsible for all your overhead, and that means anything and everything that is required to perform the services you offer. This includes towels and gowns, your back-bar product as well as any products you want to retail. If you hate retailing, then check out (Insert - The Beauty Pro’s Guide to Retail).
  • Marketing: You will also need a name for your new business as well as a logo and a marketing strategy to get your new venture noticed. Some salon suites will offer to market new “members” but only for the first few months. Once you have established your name and logo, you will need a business license and liability insurance. This is required before you can set up shop.
  • Finances: Since owning your own business requires organized record keeping, a good bookkeeper is highly recommended. Hiring someone you trust to review your financials once a month and paying your taxes quarterly will help you plan for profit.
  • Management and Logistics: Each salon suite facility has their own set of offerings, guidelines and requirements. Most provide housekeeping and laundry facilities as well as staff lounges and restrooms. Your rent typically includes utilities and Wi-Fi as well as water. Doing your due diligence on what each facility offers will help you make the best decision for you and your business.

Cost Of Operating A Salon Suite

The average cost of a Salon Suite is between $250.00-$500.00 a week depending on your location, though some google searches have revealed rents as high as $1,200.00 a week in high-rent cities like Manhattan and Chicago.

Booth Renting In A Salon or Spa

Booth renting in a salon or spa is perfect for someone who wants the flexibility that comes with owning their own business and the stability of working within the structure of an established salon or spa.

  • Product and Materials: You are accountable for all your business expenses such as licensure and taxes but in this case, you are renting your chair and being charged back for your use of back-bar product. You are still responsible for your own tools and products for use on clients, however, you may not have the same flexibility as you would in a Salon Suite; some salons and spas insist you use the brands they offer. As a booth renter, they can’t insist you retail, but they highly encourage it and will offer a percentage of sales. The percentage is negotiable. Before you begin, make sure to negotiate a deal you can live with.
  • Marketing: You should definitely advertise for your own clients, but the perk of operating as a booth renter is that you’ll likely get referrals from other booth renters in your space (i.e. you’re a nail tech and a hairstylist has their client book a manicure with you after their cut and color.)
  • Finances: Like salon suites, you’ll want to hire a bookkeeper or accountant to help manage your books and assist with taxes.
  • Management and Logistics: Some salons will negotiate an additional cost for making your appointments and checking your clients in and out. You are also obligated to follow protocols set by the owner.

Cost Of Operating A Booth Rental

The average cost of booth renting in a salon or spa is about $400.00 a week depending on location. Fees can be a flat rate or percentage of your business. Do the math before you sign on the dotted line and make sure the deal you cut for yourself is something you can live with. It’s hard to go back and negotiate after you have agreed to the terms and conditions.

Booth Rental & Salon Suite Scheduling

Regardless of where you rent, in a Salon Suite or Salon/Spa, it’s a best business practices to have your own online scheduling system and payment platform. The online scheduling system enables your clients to schedule an appointment with you when it’s convenient for them. You may be losing valuable business if you don’t have an online scheduling option. If the only time they can schedule an appointment with you is when you are available to take their phone call, you are missing out. Clients may have a spur-of-the-moment urge to schedule an appointment at 5:00 AM when they’re on the way to the gym or on a Sunday when you are not open. Online scheduling gives them options and gives you more flexibility and marketability.

There are many options out there for scheduling. Some are free and some have monthly service charges. You may want to start out with a free service to check it out and then upgrade once you know it will work for you. Simple card readers attach to your smartphone or tablet. More sophisticated card readers are like an electronic tablet on a stand. When choosing a card reader, you want one that has an intuitive interface. You also want one that will deposit your money in your bank account as soon as possible.

Booth Renting & Salon Suite Contracts

The biggest issue that booth renters make when working in a salon or spa is that they still act and are treated like an employee. Some salons have a hybrid model of having both employees and booth renters, so it is easy to do. However, in most states, this is illegal so be careful. As a booth renter you are considered an independent contractor and you will issue a 1099 misc to the owner of the salon /spa at the end for the year for the rent you paid. You will pay your taxes and have business write-offs unlike an employee. The salon owner cannot require a booth renter to attend meetings, work certain hours or do chores.

Issues can easily become problems for many booth renters when their contract does not clearly outline the terms and conditions of the rental agreement. Some things to consider:

  1. How long is the agreement? Is it 1 year, 2 years?
  2. How much is the rent and when is it due – the 1st or 15th of the month – is it a flat rate or a percentage of your monthly sales?
  3. Does your rent include laundry service or do you need to do your own laundry?
  4. Will the salon/spa take your appointments and payments, or do you need your own scheduling and POS system? *In a Salon Suite, this is not an option. You will need your scheduling and POS system.
  5. Can you bring in your favorite product line or do you have to use theirs?
  6. Will they give you walk-ins and clients or are you responsible for every client in your chair?
  7. Does the salon/spa/suite have a marketing plan does and will you and your services be included?

When it comes to booth renting, you want to make sure you're prepared for all the responsibilities you'll be taking on. For more help, check out our Booth Renting 101 book or our Make More Money with Salon Suites Online Class.

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