Dollars and Sense
Calculating prices is a critical factor in the salon business. With inventory costs, stylist commission and overhead, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s coming in and what’s going out. As it turns out, there are many methods for setting prices for color services; it’s a matter of finding the right one for you.
According to Carenza owner Seybold, “We set a standard baseline of how much a hair cut should cost for 45 minutes, and then work off that as an hourly fee. We look at a color service as somewhere between 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 times per hour what we would get for a hair cut.” Although conventional pricing states that services should be set at 10 times the product cost, says Seybold, “With entry-level designers, we are on the low side of that. With senior designers, we are on the higher side.”
At Illusions, the magical number is 70: That’s the minimum dollars per hour that Stones would like her designers to bring in. With an elite designer, the number can go as high as $100.
For Smith at Studio Gaven, researching his community shed light on the pricing game. “We are in a small county, but we are in the top 10 of the most affluent in the nation,” he says, adding that the average annual household income around his salon hits $186,000. By working with KRS Consulting, developing a resident survey and straight out asking clients what they would be willing to spend on their hair, Smith determined a median number he could charge for a standard color service, then tweaked the number to as low as $50 for shorter services by entry-level designers, to more than $100 for other services. “We found people were very honest with their numbers,” he says, “although we do have a pricing range to attract clients of all income levels.”
At Maxime, Enos and her staff create customized color programs for each individual that lets them choose the amount of maintenance and money they want to devote. Based on a half-hour consultation that asks guests about their lifestyle and personal style, the designer will come up with two or three program options—including a prebooked appointment schedule, home maintenance care, add-on treatments and the total costs—that gives the decision-making power back to the client. “They love the honesty,” declares Enos. “We give them our opinions, but we don’t tell them what they should do.”
Colors That Don’t Run
Bowls of color swirling down the drain ... that’s something no salon owner wants to see. “Reducing backbar waste is always a challege,” says Stones. “The best thing I’ve done is completely eliminate regular color bowls. Instead, I went out and bought little bowls about half that size from the dollar store. It sounds crazy, but the bigger the bowl, the more designers tend to fill it and the leftover gets thrown away. Of all the things I’ve tried, this has been the most successful.”