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You're hair looks gorgeous! It cost... what??

Salon pricing seems to be a trending topic these days on social media. So, I thought it would be a great time to explain how we decide on pricing. Now I can only speak for Meraki when I explain, I’m sure some salons use other methods. I’m sure some use no methods at all. 

But first…let’s take it back a few years, because where we're at today comes from changes made over the last few years.

Prior to Covid shutdowns, our industry normal was to accommodate our clients at whatever the expense. We likely took 6-8 clients a day, double booking colors and cramming in all the small services in any place we could find. We came in early, we stayed late, we worked 8-10 hours straight some days. While scarfing down protein shakes and being mindful of how much water we drank to avoid needing the few minutes it takes to use the bathroom. Potentially putting us behind. We were vastly underpriced and why we needed to overcompensate with doing more of all the things.

Getting back into the salons after shut downs came with heavy restrictions, many limitations on who we could do (no sniffling, no coughing, no anything that resembled illness), and how many we could do. There was no more double booking, and we couldn’t be at full staff. We went from doing 8 clients a day to 4. Yet, we were exhausted doing half the clientele. Over 10% of our industry was lost. Salons closed and never reopened, and stylist left and never came back. So, take that 10% loss of stylists and add their clients to ours. Talk about inflation, we had a surplus of clients to accommodate. It was tiresome. 

Simple economics and pricing structures in business have always been determined by supply and demand. When the demand on our availability increases, our pricing should as well. Why would we not follow this same concept? Because we never did up until now. If you paid the same amount for services year after year, that stylist was getting further behind by not raising prices to accommodate the 3% yearly average of inflation. No business can sustain a 3% loss year after year.

Although we are a changed society, with inflation creating so much discomfort in an average family budget, Meraki has never taken advantage of the surplus of clients. Or price gauged. While I’m sure many others have. I follow a professionally engineered pricing structure that has been calculated by real numbers. If you feel as if salon pricing has become ridiculously priced, and isn’t transparent, it’s likely from lack of communication and education. I'd like to take some time to explain the way Meraki's pricing is figured. I am speaking only of how I do things, not how everyone does them. 

Meraki's pricing is formulated using a 7-part pricing calculator. The parts included are as follows. 

  1. Median income in our area 

  2. How far booked out each stylist is 

  3. How many clients they see per month

  4. How many new guest requests each stylist has per month

  5. The cost of an average permanent color 

  6. The cost of an average Demi permanent color 

  7. The price of an average smoothing treatment 

I use this calculator for each of my girls who are employed by Meraki, or if self-employed are interested in pricing themselves in the same way. Each and every girl has their very own pricing, and the amount of time they need to do each service. If you view our pricing and question why one girl charges $28 for a haircut and another $65, it’s because one has more demand on her time. This is not an emotional or personal decision made by me or these staff members. It isn’t determined by experience level either. I don’t care if you’ve been a stylist for 20 years, if you have more availability than a stylist of 2 years, your pricing is lower. Experience does not determine our pricing. Personal finances do not determine our pricing. Aches and pains do not determine our pricing. Titles, certifications and special licenses do not determine our pricing. The cost of foils does not determine our pricing. The rent amount and utilities does not determine our pricing. 

Simple economics determines our pricing, at Meraki. 

There are many things happening in this industry that I am not proud of. One of which is the entitlement of some stylist raising their pricing astronomically because they’re “worth i t”. Who decides that? And how?To no fault of their own, these new professionals were born in a time of surplus, with an artificial inflation of clients. They received their license during a time when they were more than needed. The graduating class of 23 was the largest, globally, in history. The surplus of clients created ugly egos, and attitudes. Our leaders are misdirecting new talent in many ways. Some are imposing old business operations in an evolved industry. And some of these professionals began during a time that has now settled. This is where my 28 years of experience has served myself, my staff and all of our businesses nothing but consistency, reassurance and fair pricing through it all. We never followed the pricing increases of others. We sat back, made sacrifices and took cuts knowing this would pass. We don't raise pricing because the salon down the street does. I have no idea what other salons charge and why. It’s irrelevant.

If your stylist began doing hair at home during covid and stayed there, awesome for them. Are they properly licensed the way any salon has to be, legally? Do they charge the same as in salon pricing which much less over head? I understand the concern of pricing from a client's perspective. It feels made up. It probably is.

If you’re curious if the salon you go to is priced as fairly as Meraki, ask them how they determine it. Don’t assume we’re all the same. And please do not assume we’re in it for the right now. Our #1 goal is to retain our clients. The best way to do that is full transparency. The more educated you are on who you choose to do business with, the better your experience will be all together. You get what you pay for.

-Jen Cannon

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