ACE Business


Course Description

The Advanced Cosmetology Education in Business (ACE Business) is designed to provide current and aspiring salon business owners and managers with the skills, knowledge, and specific tools they need to create or enhance and operate a highly successful beauty salon business. At the end of the program, graduates will possess a comprehensive, viable salon business plan that could be immediately put to use to enhance the performance of an existing salon business or to finance and implement a new salon business.

ACE Business is nationally accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences - NACCAS

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the ACE Business course, graduates will:

  1. Possess a comprehensive business plan which they may use to build a new salon/spa business, enhance an existing salon/spa business, and/or secure financing for their business
  2. Possess practical tools for managing and operating their salon/spa business, including hiring tools, coaching tools, employee handbook, guest service guide, financial models/operating budget
  3. Possess the business and leadership skills and knowledge to successfully lead and manage their salon/spa business.

Instructional & Learning Methods

The 300 clock hours of education is provided through a structured set of theoretical and practical lessons and assignments designed to create proficiency in specific skills and competencies related to the educational objectives. In the classroom setting, a Promethean Whiteboard connected to a variety of audio-visual and computer equipment enables a very dynamic and interactive learning experience, including PowerPoint presentations, videos, internet activity, and even spreadsheet modeling. On the practical side, students must bring a computer or tablet to certain classes so they could work on financial modeling and business plan development with the guidance of their instructor.

Grading Procedures

Both theoretical and practical requirements are graded using the same grading scale as follows:

  • Excellent (A) = 90 – 100% or 5-star rating
  • Very Good (B) = 80 – 89% or 4-star rating
  • Satisfactory (C) = 75 – 79% or 3-star rating
  • Unsatisfactory (F) = Below 75% or 2-star or 1-star rating

Each unit of study is graded by a practical and/or theoretical evaluation. For practical evaluations a grading sheet listing specific criteria is used, with a star rating of 1 to 5 being assigned to each criterion. If performance in any theoretical or practical evaluation does not meet the satisfactory rating of 75% (3-star) or better, that evaluation must be repeated until satisfactory performance is achieved.

In addition to maintaining a minimum grade of 75% or a C grade, students must also complete a comprehensive final practical evaluation covering the areas of cutting, color, and styling.


Students have access to a variety of online content, a video library, reference books and industry periodicals to support and supplement their course work.

Units of Instruction

The 300-hour curriculum is divided into eight (8) areas:

  1. Strategy (44 hours)
  2. Marketing (43 hours)
  3. Sales (40 hours)
  4. Finance (43 hours)
  5. Leadership (35 hours)
  6. Operations (28 hours)
  7. Human Resources (46 hours)
  8. Business Development (21 hours)

Curriculum Areas

Strategy — Salon Business Competitive Strategy (ST100) — 11 hours

  • Strategic Analysis of the Beauty Industry – Understanding industry players, dynamics, trends, opportunities, and threats
  • The Regulatory Environment – Key regulatory trends and related risks and opportunities
  • Competitor Analysis – Identifying industry competitors and assessing their strengths and weaknesses relative to key success factors for the industry
  • Market Analysis – Understanding customers' wants and needs
  • Company Analysis – Assessing your salon's strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition and to customers' wants and needs
  • Key Success Factors – Identifying the external, competitive, customer, and internal factors that are most important to the success, profitability, and effective operation of your salon

Evaluation: Strategic Analysis specific to your own Salon Business

Strategy — Salon Business Strategy Development (ST101) — 12 hours

  • Business definition - What business am I in?
  • Competitive Differentiation - How will I differentiate my business from the competition?
  • Business Vision, Mission, & Purpose
  • Strategic Objective

Evaluation: Your Salon Business Strategy

Strategy — Salon Business Model Design (ST102) — 11 hours

  • Evaluating Different Salon Models – Private Full-Service Employment Model – High-end or Mid-Tier; Salon Chain Model, Salon Suite Independent Contractor Model; Other Independent Contractor Models
  • Guest Experience Design
  • Service Selection, Design & Pricing
  • Service Delivery Model – Single Servicer Model, Team Servicing Model, Institutional Service Model
  • Selection of Back-bar & Retail Product Lines – Evaluating product companies, distributors, and brands
  • Existing salon owners and managers will evaluate their existing operation and create a plan to enhance their current salon business model
Evaluation: Your New Salon Business Model Design or Plan for Enhancing Your Current Salon Business Model

Strategy — My Winning Salon Business Plan (ST103) — 10 hours

Writing and Presenting Your Final Business Plan by bringing together all of the components of the Program:
  • Business Vision, Mission, Purpose, & Strategic Objectives
  • Industry & Competitive Analysis
  • Market Analysis & Marketing Plan
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Salon Business Model
  • Company Location & Facilities
  • Management Team & Leadership
  • Financial Projections & Key Assumptions
Plan will be presented to panel of bankers and potential investors who will provide professional feedback
Existing Salon Business Owners/Managers may elect to create a business plan for growing their existing salon business.

Evaluation: Final Salon Business Plan and Presentation for New Salon Business or to Enhance Existing Salon Business

Marketing — Marketing Plan Development (MK100) — 10 hours

  • Target Market – Who are my customers and where will I find them? What is the size and demographics of my target market?
  • Advertising & Promotion – What is my plan for attracting new customers? What will be my marketing mix – Internet marketing; social network marketing; direct mail; personal networking; event sponsorships; print, TV/Radio, etc.

Evaluation: Your Salon Business Marketing Plan

Marketing — Branding Your Business (MK101) — 10 hours

  • What's in a Brand? Case study of some of the most and least powerful brands. Why is branding important?
  • What is your value proposition/promise to your customer?
  • What is the unique experience that your customers will receive?
  • Your positioning statement
  • Brand name, logo, slogan
Evaluation: Positioning Statement, Brand Name & Related Logo/Slogan for Your Salon Business

Marketing — Building & Retaining Clientele (MK102) — 10 hours

  • Marketing yourself – Dialogue, role-plays
  • Referral programs
  • Events and community involvement
  • Nurturing the clients you have
  • Building a robust, intelligent Client Database
  • Practical Challenge: Build a Database of 100 Potential New Clients

Evaluation: Marketing Plan for Developing/Growing Client Base; Client Database and New Service Appointments

Marketing — Leveraging the Social Media Revolution (MK103) — 10 hours

  • Understanding the different social network platforms
  • Getting the most out of Facebook, Twitter, Hairbrained, and other social networking websites – strategy and user training
  • Creating and implementing your own social media plan

Evaluation: Social Media Marketing Plan for Your Salon Business (including implementation)

Sales — Maximizing Your Revenue By Optimizing The Guest Experience (SL100) — 10 hours

  • Creating an amazing guest experience – every guest, every time
  • The Greeting
  • The Guest Consultation
  • Making the Right Personal Connection
  • Upselling Services that Meet the Guests' Needs
  • Educating Your Guest on Home Care & Products (Product Recommendation)
  • Closing the Sale – Product Sale, Pre-booking, Referrals
  • Transforming customer dissatisfaction into customer delight
Evaluation: Modeling Guest Experience on Salon Floor and Review of Service & Retail Performance for your Current Salon Business (if applicable)

Sales — Product Merchandising & Promotions (SL101) — 10 hours

  • Designing retail layout based on consumer purchase behavior
  • Creating impactful merchandising displays without breaking the budget
  • Designing and implementing service and retail promotions
  • Capitalizing on distributor promotions and incentives
  • Building a strong relationship with your distributor and product companies
Evaluation: Retail Merchandising Design and Service/Retail Promotions Plan for Your Own Salon

Sales — Top-Ten: Ten Proven Practices for Growing My Salon Revenue (SL102) — 10 hours

  • Ten very powerful and practical sales best practices that you could start doing today to significantly increase your salon revenue
  • Specific tools for implementing the "top ten" solutions
  • Creating a plan to implement the "top ten" in your salon
  • How to measure success of the "top ten" solutions once you implement them
  • Class includes actual practice of the key elements of the "top ten" solutions
Evaluation: Top-Ten Implementation Plan for Your Own Salon/Results from Implementation (if applicable)

Sales — The Art of Presentation (SL103) — 10 hours

  • Designing your presentation – target audience, communication objectives, presentation structure, content outline based on presentation time
  • Introduction to presentation software – PowerPoint, Keynote
  • Use of visuals and multi-media content
  • Effective presentation delivery – tone, pace, eye contact, gauging audience reaction and making adjustments
Evaluation: Practical presentation assignment with audience feedback

Finance — Accounting & Finance Basics (FN100) — 10 hours

  • Understanding financial statements – Income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel Spread-sheeting Skills
  • Breakeven Analysis
  • Key Financial Ratios
Evaluation: Assessment of Your Basic Financial Knowledge & Skills

Finance — Building Your Salon's Financial Budget & Business Plan Financials (FN101) — 10 hours

  • Components of the Budget
  • Setting up and fine-tuning your budget
  • Setting goals for the business, the team, and individuals
  • Using a financial spreadsheet model to build your business plan financials
  • Running "What If" analysis on your numbers
  • Updating your budget based on changes in start-up costs, revenue assumptions, etc.
Evaluation: Your Financial Budget and 5-Year Financial Projection

Finance — Path to Salon Profitability (FN102) — 10 hours

  • Tracking sales performance – daily, weekly, monthly (includes Millennium reporting)
  • Tracking key performance indicators – service (% to goal); retail (% to service$), prebooking rate, FOV (frequency of visit)
  • Managing performance versus goals – role of accountability and incentives
  • Understanding key cost drivers and managing costs
  • Variance analysis/management (interpreting variance analysis reports)
  • Adjusting Financial Projections
Evaluation: Written analysis of your own salon business

Finance — Financing Your Salon Business (FN103) — 10 hours

  • Critical analysis of your financials – strengths and vulnerabilities; what tough questions to expect from bankers/financers
  • Sources of funding – pros/cons and requirements of each – Personal cash investment, family investment/loan, commercial bank business loan, SBA loan, venture capital
  • Equipment – Lease vs. Buy
  • SBA Loan Procedures & Requirements
  • Calculating your Return on Investment
  • Finalizing your salon financing plan
Evaluation: Your Financing Plan for Your New Salon Business or For Investment in Growth/Expansion of Your Existing Salon Business

Leadership — The Power of a Positive Culture (LD100) — 10 hours

  • What is Culture, Really?
  • The Role of Culture in Building and Sustaining a Successful Organization
  • The Role of Leadership in Building and Sustaining Your Salon's Culture
  • Defining Your Salon's Culture
  • Enrolling Your Team in Your Salon's Culture
  • Keeping the Culture Alive
Evaluation: Presentation on Your Salon's Culture

Leadership — Getting the Most out of Your Salon Team (LD101)

  • Engaging the team in your vision
  • Setting clear expectations and goals (including creation and communication of an Employee Handbook)
  • Daily communication – meetings and informal powwows
  • Implementing an effective Performance Management & Coaching System (coaching tools provided)
  • Motivating your Salon Team based on individual motivation profiles
Evaluation: Motivation Profile for Your Salon Team, Employee Handbook for Your Salon, Two (2) Mock Employee Coachings, Reports on Actual Employee Coachings (if applicable)

Leadership — Successful Leadership in a Millennial World (LD102)

  • What you need to know to understand the Millennial mindset and behaviors
  • What is the profile of a successful leader of Millennials?
  • How to communicate effectively with Millennials
  • How to effectively coach a Millennial, including providing performance feedback
  • Practical solutions for motivating Millennials
  • Making a career path that makes the best Millennials stay
  • Solutions for bridging the gap between Millennials and Boomers/Gen-Xers
  • Class includes actual practice of the key successful leadership practices
Evaluation: Test Your Millennial Knowledge Quiz

Operations — World Class Reservations Desk Operation (OP100) — 10 hours

  • Service Desk workspace setup
  • Guest greeting & guest tour scripts and experience
  • Guest service wrap-up – including pre-booking and product recommendation script
  • Managing the Guest Experience using Millennium System
    • Scheduling reservations and setting guest expectations
    • Checking guests in; monitoring service times and making proactive adjustments
    • Assigning walk-in guest services
    • Upgrading tickets; Pre-booking guests; adding Retail to the Ticket
Evaluation: Practical Experience Managing the School's Reservations Desk

Operations — Inventory Management & Product Control (OP101) — 10 hours

  • Setting product usage standards for each service
  • Tracking product usage
  • Inventory tracking – visual index, physical count, system tracking in Millennium
  • Setting re-order levels and frequency
  • Product budget driven by sales
  • Purchase order system
Evaluation: Product Usage Standards and Inventory Management Plan for your own Salon or for the School's Salon

Operations — Business Risk Management (OP102) — 10 hours

  • Understanding risks and how to protect your business
  • Understanding and navigating OSHA standards
  • Role of Insurance – types of insurance you need and why
  • Legal representation – when to rely on legal advice
  • Most common legal risks
Evaluation: Risk Mitigation Plan for Your Salon Business

Human Resources — People-Smart: Hiring & Retaining the Right Salon Team (HR100) — 10 hours

  • Defining clear selection criteria
  • Attracting Millennials
  • Planning and executing an effective interview
  • Practical assessments – when and how to use them
  • Assessing cultural fit
  • Role of references, personal referrals/recommendations, background checks, drug screening
  • Selecting from among your final candidates
  • Hiring tools – application form, interview questionnaire, assessment tools
Evaluation: Your Salon's Hiring Plan and Mock Interview and Assessment

Human Resources — Crafting the Right Compensation & Benefits Plan for Your Team (HR101) — 10 hours

  • Understanding and evaluating different salon compensation models – commission, salaried, blended (salaried/commission), team-based pay, profit-sharing and other long-term incentives, deferred compensation
  • Implications of offering different employee benefits – medical and dental, 401k, etc.
Evaluation: Your Salon's Compensation Model Design and Justification

Human Resources — Developing & Motivating a High-Performing Team (HR102) — 10 hours

  • Career pathing and career mentoring for your employees
  • On-the-job growth – challenging your employees with growth assignments
  • Creating a positive, fun work environment
  • Positive incentives and reinforcement
  • Employee feedback systems and creating a culture of openness to new ideas
  • Engaging and empowering your team in business problem-solving
Evaluation: Plan for Motivating Your Salon Team

Human Resources — Educating Your Team (HR103) — 10 hours

  • Components of an Education Plan – different types of education, company-sponsored trainings, employee-sponsored trainings
  • Creating and Implementing an Education Plan
Evaluation: Education Plan for Your Team

Business Development — Business Start-Up Planning (BD100) — 10 hours

  • Site Selection – Buy vs. Lease, Negotiating your Lease
  • Salon Conceptual Design – Designing Your Salon Space balancing Consumer Purchase Behavior, Efficiency/Usability, and Regulatory Requirements
  • Outfitting your Salon – Equipment Needs List, Researching and Comparing Suppliers
  • Architectural Design
  • Contractor Bids & Value Engineering
  • Managing the Construction Process – On Time & On Budget
  • Negotiating Your Best Deals - with All Suppliers
  • Itemizing your Start-up Costs
Evaluation: Salon Space Design & Start-Up Cost Budget

Business Development — Setting Up Your Company (BD101) — 10 hours

  • Choosing Your Legal Form of Ownership – LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation
  • Registering your company and acquiring a federal tax ID
  • State tax registrations
  • Licensing requirements – business license, cosmetology salon license, cosmetology licenses for stylists
  • DBA Filings and registration of trademark
Evaluation: Company Registrations & Licensing