September 2012

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Finding Your Perfect Location

Imagine the excitement of when you get the keys to your very own space.

Nerves, butterflies and pure energy. It is the culmination of a dream, a hope, a plan. Before this happens a lot took place.

First you have decided it is time to go out on your own, so now it is time to find that perfect location you can make your dream happen. There are many questions to ask and serious research to be done to make this endeavor a success.

A wrong choice could be a costly financial, emotional and psychological mistake. So let's take a look at how to minimize your risks and maximize your success rate.

Key 1: Who is your market? Many estheticians think their market is every skin between 12 and 92. While these may all be options, businesses are more successful if they narrow their target market down.

The narrower and better defined your target group the easier it will be to get your perfect location to attract that group. McDonald's restaurants know their target markets. They locate where there are high traffic areas dominated by families with young children.

The kids meal deals featuring toys have a specific market. Ruth Chris Steak house which specializes in steaks and fine dining doesn't locate next to McDonald's, but other fast food restaurants do. These restaurants know they will all benefit from being near each other.

Auto dealerships do the same thing. We can take a lesson from this and make sure we locate near where other businesses with the same target market as ours are located.

Key 2: Know your budget. Financial success is dependent on following your financial plan. How many clients do you already have that will be continuing to come to you. Starting a new venture with no client base increases the risks because you need to be able to anticipate what you are going to be able to bring in monthly (especially in those first critical months) and how you are going to pay for the fixed expenses: rent, utilities, communication systems, marketing, product cost, and something to live on.

Most businesses fail due to poor financial planning so the best way to succeed is with a business plan and stick to your budget. If you want to locate upscale to your budget this will take extra planning and negotiating with the future landlord. You have to be realistic about what you can pay to avoid financial disaster.

Key 3 Location: You have heard it before, location, location, location. . It needs to be in the right part of town, in the right setting, with good access and the expected level of safety. If you want to focus on boomers it is premature to focus on a retirement home setting. Boomers don't live there yet in enough numbers to support you. You will need to know the demographics of your community to determine where the bulk of your target market lives.

Want to focus on the college group for waxing, tanning and skin balancing treatments? Locate near a college or where college students live, not near the retirement or young family centers. A local realtor can help direct you in this if you can't get the information from your chamber of commerce. The wrong location can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month in potential income.

Also under location carefully consider the appearance of the facility. Is it in good repair with an appealing, approachable appearance. What do the signs look like? Are they in good condition? Consider lighting and ambiance. Flooring is a big consideration. If it is carpeted, how much will it cost to bring treatment area floors to state standards? Does the facility have adequate water supply? Most states require a separate dispensary from the restrooms.

Plumbing can be expensive to add so elaborate modifications should be carefully evaluated. How accessible is the facility? I know a Pilates facility that located on the second floor of an office building with outside walk up access. Some of their more senior clients dropped because it was difficult for them to maneuver the stairs especially in bad weather. What is the parking area like? Do clients have good access? Would they, would you feel comfortable going back and forth to your car? Client safety is a consideration.

Key 4: Examine the lease: There are many different types of leases and many different inclusions in the lease. If you rent space from a salon owner the utilities and space are often included. Find out what else is included. Does it include cleaning and reception services? Are you responsible for your own area? If included how frequently are these services performed? Will this be adequate to keep it cleaned? Who will handle this and at what expense?

Don't discount this with an "I'll do it", before considering the time and effort involved. What about retail space? Do you have to keep it all in your room or will it be in view of all those who come into the facility? Is there an extra cost for having it out front? Who will be watching it when you are in your treatment room or not there? Most technicians find the risk of theft is well offset by the appointment opportunities gained from having your products available to the clients who come into the facility.

Sometimes in a salon offering a commission for sales is a great value. Is the lease flat rate or are there additional fees based on revenues generated? Does it include a provision that requires you to pay a percentage of general maintenance expenses? Is there a merchant association and are you responsible for any dues?

If this sounds like too much work, you may want to reconsider your plan because it is just the start of dealing with all the details of being a business owner. If these considerations have revved up your excitement level then this new venture may be just the beginning of an exciting new path.

Judith Culp, has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit