Can cosmetic lasers generate repeat business during a tough economy? Salon owner Pam Matheson says "Yes."
Hair loss is a multi-billion dollar
per year industry, and salons are fortunate to have a broad range of professional services and dedicated products to help their clients-and their own bottom lines-reap benefits. Now, salon laser treatments join the menu of options to serve consumers. They are a potential complement to the proven categories of professional hair enhancements and extensions, category-leading brands like Nioxin, and specialized treatment line extensions from established brand leaders. Here's how one salon partnered with the company Salon Lasers to generate a new segment of service business.
Always one to try the latest innovations, salon owner Pam Matheson was attending Premiere Orlando 2007 when the Salon Lasers demonstration caught her attention. She took some literature, did her own research, and by February 2008 felt ready to add laser hair enhancement to her menu at The Bently Salon in Hickory, North Carolina.
In an act of faith, Matheson chose to introduce the technology to the community in the most public way possible; she invited the local newspaper to follow the progress of hair replacement on one male and one female model she'd recruited to have the service at no charge. The paper ran the story accompanied by a photo of Matheson and her models.
Clients started pouring in as soon as the first story hit the stands. Once she had her first wave of clients, word spread and Matheson has recruited a steady clientele of about 50 men and 50 women.
Craig Black is the man behind Salon Lasers; he's a barber and salon owner, and also a client. Black has been giving himself laser treatments once to twice weekly for five years and getting regular scalp checks by a dermatologist.
PRICING STRATEGYMatheson began by charging $200 for each month of treatment; at twice weekly that comes to eight sessions at $25 per 30-minute treatment. As Black encourages, she had clients sign a consent form but did not tie them to a contract; they paid month-to-month. Although Black says some salons in upscale or major metropolitan areas are collecting as much as $500 per month, as the economy began to sink Matheson started offering discounts. Today, she is offering treatments for $100 per month/per couple.
Black does not tout that laser hair enhancement is brand new. "It's been available at hair loss clinics for a while," he says. At up to $30,000 a pop though, the lasers have been beyond the reach of salon budgets. With the lower cost (most cosmetic lasers are in the $5,000 to $6,000 range, he says) some owners are beginning to take a look.
And it's not a moment too soon, says Black, because clients are learning about the wider variety of hair enhancement options. "The public is becoming educated about low-level lasers," he reports. "We want to make sure everyone in our industry is as up to speed as the public is."
Salon Lasers sells flat-panel designs as well as hooded lasers. The key component of both is a set of diodes.
Each treatment takes 30 minutes and the accepted protocol is for the client to receive the treatment twice a week. Matheson tells clients that in about a month, they may notice that their hair feels and responds a little differently, and within 8-12 weeks, there should be visible results. Black says it takes about nine months to see the full benefit.
Although the operation of the laser is as simple as pushing a button, the all-important consultation requires training. Black supplies salon owners who purchase his lasers with ample information and the latest research.
"You should be able to explain to clients the causes of hair loss and how the laser may help them," he says.