Starting a Beauty Parlor Business

“…In the Philippines, manufacturers and advertisers are eager to tap into the youth market, especially when it comes to personal care products. After all, the youth market is huge. In 2001, about 57 percent of the population was under 25; 15-24 year olds made up almost 20 percent. Also, “me” products such as cosmetics, haircare, and beauty products do better with youth who are increasingly savvy, product-aware, and more willing to pamper themselves. And they also have more disposable income than older demographics. Plus, their being Pinoy means they will spend more time on their looks than most other people on the planet…”

Every mall in Metro Manila is said to host two to eight beauty salons.

SM Megamall alone boasts eight, including a barbershop offering, aside from the usual haircut, manicures, foot scrubs and hot oil.

According to the 1999 Job Demand Survey of the Levittown Beauty Academy, salon owners receive an average of 174 clients a week. But a chair, a mirror and a pair of scissors aren’t the only things you’ll need if you want your own parlor.

Lidwina Morales, owner of Lid Salon in Malate, Manila, invested P500,000 initially on equipment and her parlor’s interior. Janett Pineda, a franchisee of David’s Salon in San Pedro, Laguna, bought the franchise for P2 million and took over the parlor in November 2002.

You need not spend big bucks right away, however. Says Patrick Bishop, author of Moneytree Marketing: “Don’t overspend. Buy used equipment or rent a space that was a beauty salon previously, but is vacant and includes all the equipment.”

Pick your location well

You must also pick your location carefully. You won’t go wrong picking a mall. “You want to cater to all from Class A to C,” says Marabelle Kwek, general manager of Color My Hair at SM Megamall. “When we entered Megamall we decided to put up a Class-A salon [that also catered to the B and C classes]. We chose Megamall because it is one of the biggest.”

Salon Studio chose Libis in Quezon City. “We spent time looking for a good location and an area that would give us a comfortable size,” says owner Leah Gundran. “The first ones we saw had such small spaces. Also, we wanted one near a restaurant so that it would be convenient for our customers to buy snacks in case they got hungry.”

It’s a good idea to pick an area with lots of foot traffic if you think you’ll depend on walk-in clients. Lid Salon did just that. “We target students and these customers come because of our very affordable prices,” says salon manager Debra Bumanglag. Her parlor in Manila is close to many schools, government offices and the Robinsons Ermita mall.

Invest in good equipment

It’s better to buy good used equipment if you can get it. If you prefer new supplies, shops like Hortaleza and Accessories and Beauty Equipment stock everything you are likely to need. It is also important to buy high-quality shampoos and chemicals for nail care, hair treatment and coloring to please your clients. Lid Salon charges reasonable rates, but does not compromise on quality. “We follow the right formulas and we don’t use inferior brands,” says Bumanglag.

Train your people

After picking your location and buying your equipment, it’s time to recruit good people for your parlor. “They should have the technical expertise especially in hair coloring and styling using international standards as a benchmark,” Kwek says. “They have to undergo regular training to update them on new products, hairstyles and customer service.”

Ricky Reyes Learning Institute offers a three-month cosmetology course that costs P14,900 and includes hair cutting, coloring, perming, styling, make-up, manicure and facial treatment. The Classic School of Cosmetology in Binondo, Manila, offers short courses in hair coloring, blow drying and scalp manipulation, among other things, for P1,500 to P4,000.

Salon franchises take care of personnel training and provide equipment and supplies. “They take care of almost everything, even bookkeeping and accounting and the preparation of the payroll,” says Pineda. “I just wait for my monthly dividend. It’s up to the owner if he wants to visit the parlor once in a while.”

It’s important to keep your employees happy to avoid high staff turnover. “We give them salaries apart from commissions,” says Les Reyes, owner of Reyes Haircutters. “May mga commission sila sa mga cosmetics na ibinebenta nila at meron pa silang tip if they are good.” Salon Studio follows a chart system where suppliers reward parlor staff selling their products.

Price your services well

Salon Studio uses celebrities like MTV videodisc jockey Donita Rose and former Binibining Pilipinas-World Daisy Reyes to promote the chain. Reyes Haircutters believes in charging minimal fees for maximum profit. “Dito P49 ang gupit. Ang kostumer mo for one day 50 to 100 head. You made a lot of people beautiful sa presyong P49 lang,” says Reyes. “Kapag magaling yung nagha-handle, may personality to educate our customer about the spa and other services, yung P49 minsan nagiging P2,000.”

Reyes Haircutters also keeps a Total Quality Standard Team to ensure the chain keeps a high standard of service. “Yung [team] umiikot yan all over the Philippines to check if the standards of all salon services are being followed,” says Reyes. “Kung merong mali, doon na tayo magsasabi sa may-ari para sabihin sa manager, “bagsak tayo dito o pasado tayo dito.”

He stresses the importance of research to know the latest trends. “Education is very important,” says Reyes. “Ano ba yung mga bago ngayon? How do you innovate? Kung di man ako nag-aaral sa school ngayon, I do self-study. Kung hindi, mag-i-stagnate ka.”

– by Regina Samson and Michelle Cortes. This article, which originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines, a publication of Summit Publishing, Inc.

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