Effective Inventory Management Tips for Salons

Written by PBA Visionary Plus Member, Qosmedix

Imagine running out of essential supplies during peak hours: using your last hair foil halfway through dyeing a client’s hair or trying to do an updo without any [1] bobby pins. These situations negatively impact customer satisfaction and slow down your schedule, resulting in missed appointments and lost income. Maintaining and organizing your inventory is crucial to smoothly operate a salon and avoid stressful situations like these.

Effective inventory management directly impacts expenses, customer satisfaction, and ultimately the overall success of the business. A well-managed supply closet ensures that stylists can find their preferred products, enhancing clients’ overall experience. Plus, when you have the tools needed for any client request, they’re more likely to give your salon repeat business.

What You’ll Learn in This Article:

Inventory Management in the Salon Industry

So what is inventory management? In simple terms, it’s the process of ordering, storing, and using your supplies, tools and products.

While the cycle of inventory management pertains to most industries, some specific challenges are unique to the salon industry and should be considered when determining how to approach inventory management. Challenges like perishable items, diverse product lines, and varying client preferences require more strategic approaches to inventory management. Efficiently re-ordering and storing supplies, reducing waste, and anticipating customers’ needs require in-depth knowledge of product shelf life, staying up to date on industry trends, and implementing efficient ordering practices.

To help make this process more approachable, we’ve broken this guide into three sections: how to understand your needs based on data, the best ways to maximize storage, and ideas to minimize waste.

4 Steps to Optimize Salon Inventory Management

The foundation of a strong system lies in understanding customer needs and industry trends, establishing strong relationships with suppliers (and the importance of doing so), and how to implement a dynamic yet powerful ordering system.

1.    Conduct a Comprehensive Needs Assessment

  1. The first step in most business-related undertakings is to understand your customer, and inventory management for salons is no different. What are customers requesting? What supplies are you using most often? Gather and analyze customer demand, preferences from your stylists, and market trends. This can be done using traditional feedback methods like surveys or informally on social media.
    1. Next, analyze sales data to identify popular products and services. Once you have this important information, you will start to recognize patterns and can use them to adjust your inventory accordingly.

2.    Anticipate Trends and Adjust Accordingly

Trends often influence customer requests; it’s easy to spot a fad when you receive an increase in bookings for certain haircuts or colors. So it’s important to stay tuned into your customers and look out for trends on the horizon. With practice, this will help you adjust your inventory and future orders based on seasonal variations and emerging trends.

Trendspotting can be intimidating, and it’s less important to stay on top of every new theme, but there are some ebbs and flows that happen every year. Are November and December packed because everyone wants their hair to look great for the holidays? Try anticipating increased demand for specific products during these seasonal changes. For example, you’ve likely seen increased demand for hydrating products during colder seasons, especially with scalp serums becoming more and more popular. Get ahead of this by stocking hydrating scalp serums if you operate in a location with a dry winter. Understanding the seasonality of your business will better equip you to be prepared for these busier months, ultimately preventing overstocking by ensuring you have proper stock levels.

3.    Establish Strong Vendor Relationships

Establishing long-term relationships with suppliers is worth the initial leg work. As a report from the Wilson Center points out, clear lines of communication and building trust between your suppliers is the key to being able to offer retail products and services your clients love and the tools needed to keep your salon running. Developing a strong level of trust with vendors may even result in better pricing, exclusive products, or early access, so that small talk may not be as small as it seems. Increase the client experience and the success of your salon with strong vendor relationships.

4.    Inventory Control: Track Use and Establish a Replenishment Schedule

Maintaining strong vendor relationships is just one piece of the puzzle to ensure the items you need get there when you need them; the other is making sure to order the right items at the right time. Tracking product use, setting reorder points, and establishing a replenishment schedule are all key to ensuring your inventory management system runs smoothly over time. Automating this process will let you spend less time dealing with logistics and more time doing what you love: styling.

Inventory management software, like Mangomint, lets you track product levels in real time and automatically initiate reorders when needed. Setting alerts when inventory levels drop below a predetermined amount also helps you switch from reactive to proactive ordering. For salons with multiple retail locations, we recommend our Business Select tool, which simplifies complex ordering and inventory management with one easy-to-use resource.

Efficient Storage Solutions

Now that your inventory needs and replenishment system are sorted, storing and organizing it will take your salon business from stocked to efficient.

Organize your salon supplies for easy access, categorizing the products based on product usage frequency. Place most-loved and most frequently used items at eye level to give easy access to your stylists and serve as a quick visual check for what refills need to be ordered. Take, for example, Barbicide. Stylists need to change Barbicide in the jar daily (as opposed to spray bottle storage), so placing refills in an easily accessible location at eye level ensures stylists never run out and are more conscious of when your salon may need refills.

Organizing products by frequency of use streamlines the service process. This not only means that stylists can spend more time with clients and less time stocking, but also that clients spend less time waiting and have a more enjoyable experience. Shelving, bins, and labeling systems can take this a step further by reducing the time spent searching for products and minimizing the risk of errors. If staff have a difficult time remembering where items go, consider making labels or miniature diagram stickers that can be placed on the inside of shelves/drawers.

Minimizing Waste in Salon Inventory

The final step in managing your inventory efficiently is to minimize waste. Throwing out expired products doesn’t just impact the salon financially, it negatively impacts the Earth – potentially damaging our food and water supplies. Adopt a system to regularly review and update inventory records, paying close attention to expiration dates. Conduct monthly audits to identify expired or slow-moving products to ensure accurate inventory records and update your replenishment schedule. Don’t forget to keep in mind changing consumer preferences, the peaks and valleys that come with seasonal demands, and which products are basically permanent additions. The more closely aligned your salon’s supplies are with client needs, the less waste will be created.

Even after setting up such a system, some products may still go bad before your salon could use or sell them. In these instances, it’s important that cosmetic products are responsibly and properly disposed of to minimize environmental impact. In many cases, the manufacturer will have return procedures in place, so check with them first before discarding any expired inventory.

Responsibly discarding expired inventory is a good start, but not having to throw out any inventory at all is ideal! With this guide, you now have the know-how to anticipate client needs and trends, establish strong vendor relationships, track product use, set up a replenishment schedule, organize your inventory efficiently, and minimize waste.

Effective inventory management not only improves operational efficiency but also positively impacts the bottom line and customer satisfaction, so it’s definitely worth investing time to set up a system that works best for you. For more ways to improve your clients’ salon experience, keep an eye on our QosmeTips Blog and explore our free Business Select platform to spend less time managing inventory and more time styling!

FAQs About Salon Inventory Management

  • How can poor stock management affect a salon[1] ’s success?

Poor stock management can lead to cash flow issues, overstocking, and customer dissatisfaction due to product unavailability and financial losses.

  • How much inventory should salon owners keep on hand?

Salon owners should maintain enough inventory to meet average customer demand without overstocking. Inventory quantities vary based on factors like salon size, location, and customer preferences. Consider regular audits and routine monitoring to help optimize inventory levels.

  • What are the best practices for managing salon inventory to reduce waste and increase profits?

Salon inventory management best practices include organizing products, using reliable inventory management systems, setting budgets, conducting regular audits, avoiding spoilage and shrinkage, and optimizing stock levels to match customer demand.

  • How can Qosmedix assist in managing my salon’s inventory?

Qosmedix offers a range of in-stock inventory ideal for salon use. Our team can provide quality products, a reliable supply chains, and assist with inventory management solutions tailored to your salon’s needs. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!