Backbar Basics: Managing Your Salon Inventory

Holly Schippers discusses tips and tricks for maintaining the backbar inventory in your salon.
Holly Schippers discusses tips and tricks for maintaining the backbar inventory in your salon.

The backbar is the backbone of your business

Stocking your backbar may not have been a priority pre-COVID-19, when finding a needed product was as easy as making a quick trip to the distributor; however, in today’s market, every salon must maintain its backbar and track inventory to predict future needs.

Whether centrally displayed, kept behind closed doors or part of a salon or booth, keeping your backbar well-stocked is critical to your success. Hope Jung of Studio 890 in Elm Grove, Wisconsin says, “I always like to have at least one backup of my essential products (e.g., top, base, bonder, lotion). I’ll also get backups of high-use seasonal colors and purchase them before the season so they don’t sit and settle.”

It’s important to know your inventory, or how many of each product you have on hand. Along with inventory figures, it’s important to know how many uses each product yields, as well as the services for which each product is used.

You’ll then want to examine your timeline of product consumption according to the product’s manufacturer. Knowing the manufacturer’s recommendations will help you gauge whether you’re overusing or underusing a certain product. Many manufacturers provide a cost per service guide, but you can find your own cost per service figure by dividing the total amount of the product by the amount used per service.

With this information, you can estimate a consumption rate based on your appointment book. Begin by looking at appointments from previous years, grouped in to quarters, to establish seasonal patterns. Breaking down dates into quarters of the year, such as January through March, April through June, July through September and October through December, will group common busy periods; for example, most major holidays fall into the fourth quarter of the year, October through December. The better you can record trends and related inventory, the easier it will be to predict future needs.

Writing down your collected data or viewing it as a graph can help you determine usage patterns and approximate how much of each product you’re scheduled to use. The more data you have, the further in advance you can forecast your product consumption.

For example, if there are 50 nail files in a pack, and you are to complete 61 services requiring a file in January, you’ll need to stock two packs of nail files for January. Although you won’t go through all of them during the month, it’s better to overstock than risk running out of nail files.

Backbar Pointers

  • Forecast your needs, and order required products one month in advance. This will streamline your inventory and ensure that you all your essential products on hand.
  • Ordering extra quantities of high-use products in advance and during sales is a great idea, depending on your storage space. You must also ensure that the product ordered in advance won’t expire by the time you use it.
  • Be mindful of proper storage. Temperature-controlled storage is critical for salon products, as many are sensitive to temperature.

About the Author: Holly Schippers (@fingernailfixer) is an award-winning nail professional, industry advocate and educator.

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