“I’m about to graduate beauty school and I think I want to rent, but I don’t know what the costs typically are. What is the average price of a salon suite or a booth? How much is too much? What should the rent include? I’m so confused. Please help.”


Audio Version


If you’re looking for an “average” cost, you’re going to have a hard time finding one. Like residential and commercial rental rates, booth and suite rent varies by region and from facility to facility, as do the inclusions and lease terms. Typically, booth rental costs less than suite rental, but even for that general rule there are exceptions.

Before you proceed, I want you to complete the following exercise:

Instead of asking yourself, “How much does it cost?” ask, “What can I afford?” If you’re a new graduate with no clientele to speak of, you’re unlikely to succeed unless you have:

  • self-discipline and the ability to manage yourself,
  • enough savings to carry your business and personal expenses through your first year, and
  • the money and expertise to successfully launch and maintain an aggressive marketing strategy.

Remember, you’re going to be establishing a brand-new business—likely as a completely unknown professional—within the immediate vicinity of your most direct competitors. As a self-employed microsalon owner, you aren’t entitled to walk-in business and it won’t be your landlord’s job to advertise on your behalf. (Their job will be to keep the lights on and collect your rent payments.)

If you aren’t financially, professionally, or personally prepared to handle that level of responsibility all by yourself, regardless of how affordable the rent may seem, you cannot afford it.

MSO Toolkit

Your costs of doing business will impact your pricing. Rent will, without a doubt, be your largest overhead expense (aside from your wages and self-employment taxes). I recommend treating your business like a business and doing your math ahead of time, otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where your costs push your prices far outside the realm of what your target clientele can afford, hamstringing your new business and dooming it to failure before you’ve even started.

Instead of asking yourself, “What should the rent include?” ask, “What am I looking for? What do I need? Why?” This will help to determine your readiness. Laundry facilities and towels, for instance, tend to be pretty high on the list for most beauty professionals. (After all, nobody likes lugging home bags of laundry every day.) Are your other needs as practical and reasonable or do they indicate that you may have some unrealistic expectations?

Understand that self-employed means self-employed. As a renter, you’re a business owner in every way so you will be responsible not only for your rent and marketing but your products, equipment, tools, software costs, insurance, and every other business expense you incur. Landlords aren’t responsible for providing renters with backbar, laundry facilities, client amenities, or anything other than a space to work in, unless the lease states otherwise. Some landlords will provide additional amenities beyond four walls or a station, but often, those additional amenities will come at a premium price, either in the form of higher rent rates or optional added fees.

If you feel you need the landlord to provide you with continuing education, reception services, or any other perks or benefits that would normally only be appropriate in an employment-based salon, you’re likely not prepared to be on your own. Those needs and wants aren’t reasonable and are indicative of significant self-management deficits, so if they appear on your amenities wishlist, you need to reconsider going solo.

Evaluate your list. Assuming you’re one of the rare new graduates who has the savings, the drive, the discipline, and a solid understanding of what self-employment entails, you should be left with a pretty clear picture of your ideal rental arrangement. Finding a space should be as simple as comparing your needs to what the facility offers and attempting to negotiate until you reach a compromise that suits both you and the landlord, just be certain that the arrangement doesn’t violate your rights. Your rental rate should be a fixed dollar amount (not based on a percentage of your sales) and you should be paying the landlord the rent (not having it deducted from checks they write to you).

  • You should not be obligated to provide client contact information, sales data, or other performance metrics to your landlord, nor should you be required to use the landlord’s salon software.
  • At no point should your landlord be collecting money from your customers.
  • Your landlord should not be dictating which specific services you perform, how you perform your services, what you charge for your services, or which products you use.

To see every article I’ve published about self-employment and rental, click here.


Did you start your career in the industry as a renter? Were you prepared? Why or why not? How did it go and where are you now? Tell us in the comments!

14 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Iam a salon owner. / booth rental,I have had 4 salons in the cource of 45 yrs, they all have been successful, the one prior to this,I had partners, that was a bad move going into business with 2 people who didn’t have any damn experience, the one Iam at now I started renting at and took over after working there for -0 yrs, I have good renters, I do also provide a receptionist, which the girls each also pay her to keep thier books,if they want to , Iam a working owner/ myself so I have an assistant, that I pay but the co, does not ,& if the renters want to use her they pay her for her services, my question is, we do laundry for everyone hardly anyone pitches in to help with it my rent to them is very reasonable, depends on full time or part time, when the assistant does the laundry for everyone& washes out tiny bowls, & sweeping up hair, should the renters tip out the assistant at the end of the week, this is a big peeve of mine as an owner.

    • As a matter of professional courtesy, I personally would. However, you have no authority to require them to. If you feel the receptionist is bearing a lot of the workload and deserves more pay, increase her compensation and raise the cost of her support to the renters.

  2. Who’s responsible for having or cleaning the salon? I use to work in a corporate company for over 10 yrs. And we would have a duty list. Now I’m at a salon where the majority are booth renters,I am the only one on commission. The other stylist are pretty much busy with their clientele,and I understand by the end of their work day they are tired. And I’m pretty much cleaning the majority of the time. Are we supposed to have a duty list or just be responsible adults and clean what we can? Thank you

    • Hi Tam!

      In a rental salon, the salon landlord typically assumes responsibility for ensuring the facility is cleaned. They either do it themselves or hire a crew to come in. Renters should be taking care of their own spaces and keeping common areas (like the dispensary) tidy, but they aren’t responsible for doing chores and assigning a duty list would violate their rights as self-employed people under federal employment laws.

  3. Hi Tina, I’m a co-owner with a friend. Yes I know now a very bad move. Well we hired her daughter a couple yrs ago. She has been on commission building her clients. She wants to go on boothrent but thinks she should have a huge break because she’s made the salon money, and her mom part owner. I have tried telling her the salon is a buisness she can’t seem to get that through her head and her mother stands up for her and not OUR business. Its very frustrating because what we do for her we will have to do for other stylist. For example she wanted the salon to buy her a starter kit over $400.00 , ( Which I said no to) along with not paying for nail station area and two weeks of boothrent free and not have to pay boothrent while on maternity leave. So her mom says well I think the salon needs to do this because she’s made us money. Her daughter has ruined our friendship. I stand up for myself and the business, and get treated like crap for doing so. I’m to the end of myself. They think I’m being unfair. Can you lead me to the right direction to get more information of how I should handle this.

    • You are not being unfair, and your partner needs to recognize that giving her daughter special treatment will absolutely lead to problems in the future. If you two don’t have an ironclad partnership agreement that contains a detailed roadmap for how to separate, now is the time to have one written by an attorney. I’d explain to her that I’m completely serious about the daughter being treated the same as everyone else–so serious that I’d walk out on the partnership. You two are trying to build a business. There’s no room for nepotism. Her profitability is expected of her and doesn’t earn her any favors.

  4. Hey Tina! Is a booth renter required to rent from a salon suite or salon by law or can, for example, a single nail technician rent an office space and work out of there instead (assuming the office has a bathroom and a sink nearby). Office space seems much cheaper here than what I’m paying for a suite currently but I’m not sure of the legality of it. Just in case state law matters, I’m located in TN.

    • So long as the building is zoned for retail use, you can lease anywhere you like. Check with your state board and county zoning requirements. In my area, the building needs to be classified a certain way by the zoning board to be used for salon purposes. Most offices are approved for that purpose (at least here).

  5. I am currently working at a salon that states I’m an “independent contractor” but the owner is taking 50% of what I bring in and I am paying my own taxes, insurance and paying for my own business license. She does provide inventory but it just seems like I’m getting the shirt need of the stick. We have no receptionist or assistant and there are six stylist that have to constantly leave their clients to answer phones, check guests out, etc. Is this legal?

  6. Hi Tina

    Am a salon landlord and wondering what are the rules for a booth renter advertising with in my salon & social media? Do they need to used my logo, colors, name, etc?

    • Renters are business owners. They’re completely in charge of their own marketing and advertising. Not only do they not have to use your colors, logo, or name, they should not. It should be clear that their business is a completely separate entity from yours.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here