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Sector Spotlight: Hair Salons

With the Canadian hair care sector performing well, it’s a tempting area to enter.

The steady growth recorded in recent years is projected to continue, within a climate of increasing consumer confidence and an encouraging economic outlook. There may never have been a better time to consider buying a hair salon in Canada.

Facts and figures

  • More high-end services, such as hair straightening, have become increasingly popular with consumers, partly due to an increase in average disposable income.
  • Data from 2015 indicated that 85.2% of businesses in the sector made a profit with annual revenues in the range of $30,000 to $5,000,000
  • Social media interaction is a popular strategy for engaging and attracting customers, but the onsite service is the main determiner of success.


The hair salon sector forms almost a quarter of the personal grooming industry, along with mobile services and products bought for home use.

While predominantly focussing on hair care, salons increasingly add value and interest with in-house nail and beauty services.

Clientele tend to be female, though the connected barber shop industry thrives and some premises house unisex salons, or combine a barber section with a feminine styling area.

Practitioners are also usually women, with a survey from 2011 showing their proportion as 85 percent of the workforce.


Salon atmosphere plays a big part in attracting custom. Clean lines and stripped-back Scandinavian décor are proving popular.

A boom in non-natural hair colours, such as pink and blue, has drawn more people to their local salons, especially those promoting sustainability. Although the use of better-quality colourants has resulted in longer gaps between customer visits, this has been offset by the rise in patronage.

What you need

In a well-established market in which it’s difficult to offer a unique service, attracting and keeping talented staff is the foundation on which to build brand awareness.

There are several other important points that the casual observer might not be aware of:

  • You should decide whether to try and cover more of the broad range of salon services to attract the widest demographic or to specialize and let your expertise bring in custom from further afield.
  • Licences are required for handling the chemicals used in many salon procedures, as well as others relating to running a business.

Licences vary between provinces and regions, so it’s important to check the relevant regulations in your area.

  • Only certified hairstylists may operate professionally and must be registered with the Colleges Apprentices or Journeyperson Class, having passed the relevant exams.
  • If you wish to provide your customers with recorded music to create the atmosphere you want, you must obtain the correct licence to avoid infringing copyright.

Hands-on involvement in the business is physically demanding, as almost all of your services require you to stand.

Coupled with the exceptionally high standards of cleanliness required for the safety of staff and customers, this results in a relatively high workforce turnover - making it more crucial to work on retainment.

Salon owners wishing to be involved in the operations side of their business, need to be certified professionals.

However, even if you are only interested in the running of the business, it’s important to be well informed on trends within the industry and capable of helping your salon adapt.

Ideal candidates would be hard workers, team players and effective at resource and people management.

Buying an established salon is a lower-risk way of entering the market than by building your own business.

Anyone considering this should familiarize themselves with the kinds of salon on offer and their performance in different regions, to help narrow the search for the right business.

Talking to existing owners, studying available research and carrying out due-diligence on potential purchases are all essential to making an informed decision.

It's a sector that has a bright future, and that future can be shared by those prepared to do the necessary work.

Bruce Hakutizwi

About the author

USA and International Manager for, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small medium size businesses. The website has over 60,000 business listings and attracts over 1.5 million buyers to the site every month.


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