Breaking into the tattoo industry is tough, but once you’re there, it’s extremely rewarding. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and passion to become a good tattooist and running a good tattoo shop are two very different things.
So, we spoke to some artists in the UK and asked them for their advice on how to run a tattoo shop well. Here’s what they had to say.
Employ the right people
Naturally, you want to employ good artists, but before you start taking anyone on, think about the type of people you want to work with. Are they creative? Do they share your vision? Do they have good ethics? If, like a lot of successful artists, these things are important to you, it’s definitely something you should focus on.
The people you surround yourself with at work will reflect on you and in turn, reflect on your business, so make this a priority.
It’s also worth considering employing artists with different styles. After all, it’s a bit pointless everyone doing the same thing and you’re more likely to attract more clients if your shop offers a variety of designs.
We’ve written an article on a few different options for Employing Tattoo Artists in a Tattoo Shop so have a read through!
Keep on top of the basics
One of the most important things to remember when running a successful business is making sure you’re on top of the, for use of a better term, boring stuff. Things such as ensuring you’re compliant with UK laws, registered with your local council and are always stocked up on your supplies and equipment.
Don’t skimp on your equipment either. Investing in high quality tattoo supplies you know are safe will definitely benefit your business in the long run. For example, invest in a good, sturdy bed which will last you years as opposed to six months.
Pay your bills
Simply put, pay your bills on time. Nothing makes a business struggle more than late payments and debt, and by paying your bills late, your credit report could also be damaged, and your next business venture could suffer.
So, get some payment plans in place and have a clear reminder of when things need to be done by.
Pay yourself, sensibly
Don’t run before you can walk. Of course, the idea of pocketing every last penny your business earns is tempting, but it isn’t sensible. After speaking to some experienced tattoo studio owners, we found they all said the same thing. The key is to keep as much money in the business as possible until you know you can afford to take something out to pay yourself a good amount. You’ll still need to pay yourself a bit – but just enough without getting greedy.
Hire a manager
This tip won’t apply to everyone, and not because not everyone can afford to employ a manager – but because not everyone will need one. It could depend on how many people are employed in your studio. If there are only two tattooists, the overhead for a manager might not be worth it, but, if there are three, four or five artists working in a shop, it might well be worth your while.
Lianne Moule who owns Immortal Ink in Chelmsford with her husband Jason said they don’t necessarily have a manager – they have receptionists, who essentially, are treated like managers. She said, “They answer all the calls and help us keep on top of the emails and admin.”
Another factor to consider is if your studio has a high footfall. For example, if you’re on a high street, you may need someone to answer the questions from walk-ins and take bookings, but, if you have a small studio out of the way and take most of your bookings via Instagram, a shop manager might be a bit of waste of time.
Ultimately, the best way to run a tattoo shop is to have a plan. It will be hard work, but if you consider all of the above and keep your head down, it might just be worth it!