Business Tips

If Guac is Extra, Why Isn’t Hair Color?

By Caila Ellerman | 

This has probably happened to me 85% of the time when I order Mexican cuisine. You go to your favorite Mexican cantina and sit down with your order already in mind: a lime margarita, pork carnitas with chips, and guac to start. The server looks at you like she’s just about to deliver you the bad news –  “Guac is extra is that ok?” You say, “yes that’s fine,” without hesitation because you know that Mexican cuisine without guacamole is blasphemy.

When I was younger, I thought it was silly to charge extra for guacamole. “It’s a part of the meal – the experience – so why do I need to pay $1.00 more?” When you are 16 and have no idea how life actually works, every penny counts when you make $500 a month.

Of course, with time, I learned how the economy functions, and how prices are set. Being forced to buy my own groceries made me realize that avocados are insanely expensive, (and also a really good healthy fat.)

The point of my discovery is this: in order for my favorite Mexican restaurant to break-even on my guacamole addiction, they have to charge that extra dollar. They have to pay their kitchen staff, servers, and cover the cost of ingredients for my entire meal – and if they don’t, they are just giving away money. If you have 300 customers in a day and everyone orders guacamole, you are out $300 that day. That’s $9,000 a month.

The same goes for the hair industry. You purchase your hair color from your distributor. They charge you $5 for a single tube of color. You use that entire tube of color on your client’s hair and because she’s your favorite client – you don’t charge her for the product you used.

Now, you are out $5 on one client. If you do that for EVERY client that comes to your salon and on average have three clients a day over 21 days, you are out $315 that month.

What’s worse is that is a VERY modest number. We have seen color costs shoot up to $50-$60 per appointment just in COST alone and if you do a lot of vivid work, there have been costs upwards of $150.

The time to re-evaluate the ebbs and flows of your business expenses is becoming more imperative each and every day. Thanks to Covid, our salons are now operating at a 50% capacity or less and our expenses have now gone up due to purchasing  Protective equipment such as sanitation supplies, more gloves, masks, face shields, etc,.

It’s very important to note that charging your clients for products or materials used is not an uncommon tactic. Mechanics charge you for their time and the parts used. Contractors charge you for their time and the parts used. Using a hair color app like SalonScale will help you track your hair color costs on every appointment so you can finally show your clients how much the parts (or hair color rather) costs for their service.

The key is proper communication with your clients. Be transparent with your clients and explain to them why you are starting to charge them separately for their color. It’s a benefit to them because now they know what they are paying for and can be more involved in the consultation process. It opens up the door to conversations like: “Oh a balayage is going to be about $50 in hair color? Ahh, that’s a little out of my budget, is there another option?”

It builds the customer service experience and ultimately fosters loyalty. We are living in an age where everything is aired out on the table, so take advantage of the opportunity to control the situation and communicate the positive impact charging for hair color will bring to your business.

And once you’ve done that, go treat yourself to a lime margarita and chips – with extra guac.

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Caila Ellerman

Caila is the Multi-Media Production Manager at SalonScale. Caila has over 5 years of experience in the world of marketing and 1-year of experience being a plant mom. When not turning off leaky color bars, Caila can be found writing music or working on other creative projects.