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Industry • Best Practice

Thriving in Simplicity: Why Single-Service Beauty Businesses Triumph

By leaning on expertise and unique client experiences, self-care businesses can avoid overstuffed service menus

Beauty businesses don’t always need comprehensive services or product catalogs to succeed; sometimes, it just takes one great idea. For proof, look no further than the enormous range of single-service salons and parlors in the United States. BlinkBar focuses exclusively on lashes. SAUNA HOUSE offers hot and cold therapies. These companies prove it is possible for a single service to drive growth, even to the point of creating entire franchises. What makes this model effective, and what can other businesses learn from it?

The single-service advantage

Running any business is difficult, but the more services you offer, the more complex it becomes. Every additional service drives a corresponding increase in equipment, hiring expectations, and training time. Meanwhile, different services are more likely to attract a diverse clientele, increasing the range of client experiences stylists face daily. And that’s not even considering how each service takes up different amounts of time on an appointment schedule — often increasing the strain on staff who need to juggle them all.

Focusing on a single service, on the other hand, contributes to efficiency in several areas. For example, it creates breathing room for owners and managers to refine the business strategy, whether expanding to new locations or marketing themselves to high-value clients. It also helps staff streamline day-to-day operations and optimize appointment times, which can reduce overhead in the long term.

By the way, single-service doesn’t necessarily mean you only have one offer. SAUNA HOUSE may prioritize hot and cold therapy as its service, but it also diversifies revenue through beauty product sales and at-home sauna kits.

The value of single-service beauty

Many business experts frown upon single-service operations because most industries view multi-service businesses as the stable model that offers more reliable growth prospects. But that’s not necessarily true in self-care markets, where clients value unique expertise and experiences.

Take hair salons as just one example. Most are multi-service businesses that offer extensive menus for many clients. But Drybar — a 92-location franchise that survived multiple recessions and a global pandemic — is an exception. Since its 2008 launch, Drybar has dealt exclusively with blowouts, prioritizing its client experience and hair expertise. As a result, the company earned $70 million per year before Helen of Troy purchased it for $255 million.

A big part of the appeal of single-service beauty businesses is their ability to operate more efficiently than those with wider offerings. If every client needs the same or similar products, it because much easier to anticipate inventory expenses, for example. If services all take roughly the same amount of time to complete, it’s much easier to keep staff fully booked. Adopting a single-service model removes many of the variables that can create operational chaos. 

Single-service beauty expertise

It’s cliché to say practice makes perfect, but it’s true — we get better at the tasks we spend the most time on. In a beauty setting, that means single-service businesses can produce self-care talent that excels at their specialized craft. Over time, that expertise generates a positive reputation for the brand that convinces clients to book an appointment. That’s why clients think of Drybar and its excellent blowouts, while BlinkBar is recognized for superior lashes.

Beauty expertise can manifest in several ways, each of which contributes to brand success:

  • Understanding the latest trends: Like fashion, beauty trends are constantly changing. By focusing on one trade, these specialists can pay more attention to developments in their field, from popular styles to new techniques.

  • Awareness of industry regulations: Beauty businesses are subject to comprehensive compliance rules, from proper sanitation to correctly-wired electrical systems. In the long term, these rules benefit businesses by ensuring the safety of staff and clients. After all, if your nail salon is known for infections, the client pool will dry up overnight.

  • Building trust with clients: Word-of-mouth marketing dramatically contributes to business growth, especially in the first year. Each client will show off their looks to friends and family, which means one stylist’s beauty expertise can contribute to endless recommendations.

Driving repeat business

There’s no denying that multi-service businesses are convenient since they represent a “one-stop shop” for beauty needs. That makes it all the more important for single-service self-care to find repeat clients who counter any reduced drop-in effects. Owners must do everything possible to make an excellent impression and remind visitors of the value they get from each appointment.

  • Automate marketing: Beauty platforms that analyze clients and automatically deliver the right campaigns to their email are an effective way of driving repeat business. Boulevard, for example, can generate lost client reminders, birthday celebration offers, and even product recommendations.

  • Prioritize the experience: Drybar employees don’t just do hair — they also pour some wine, point out the iPhone charging station, and play your favorite music or movies. Creating a relaxing and luxurious experience makes clients feel even better about their appointments and more likely to book again.

  • Offer membership benefits: Clients are more likely to become regulars if they get more value from each visit. Memberships and loyalty programs can provide these benefits. BlinkBar’s memberships program, for example, enhances the service with two monthly fills, product discounts, a free birthday fill, and more.

The biggest challenges facing single-service beauty

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine for single-service operations. The business model has potential drawbacks that each owner must learn to overcome:

  • Vulnerable to disruption: Multi-service businesses rely on multiple income streams and can pivot in response to changing trends. However, anyone with a single-service company will be in big trouble if that service starts to falter for any reason. Staying up-to-date on self-care trends and being aware of client needs can mitigate this problem.

  • Be unique: What happens if two competitors offer the same service? For single-service operations, it’s vital to stand out. Always focus on marketing efforts, branding, and the overall quality of the experience to become the business clients think of first. For example, Clean Your Dirty Face doesn’t just offer skin care — its brand revolves around a 30-minute session that prioritizes convenience, confidence, and overall skin health.

  • Lean into expertise: PRESS Modern Massage may deal exclusively in massages, but its team prides itself on understanding what techniques work for each body type — up to and including pregnancy pain points. This diverse knowledge makes the clinic more appealing in ad campaigns while establishing client trust.

One thing is clear: Owners should always appreciate the power of a single-service beauty business. While the model isn’t right for every business, a passionate founder who understands unique client needs can help it grow and thrive. And if you’re still unconvinced, remember that it’s far easier to start small and grow into a multi-service business after gaining client trust than offering too much and failing to impress anyone.

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