Don’t Discount Yourself Out Of Business

“Just make it $50”. How often do you or your staff say this? It’s a big reason so many salons struggle. “I can’t believe how many times I see someone rounding off,” says Lisa Conway*. In an excerpt from her new book, The Naked Salon, Lisa explains  that this “white ant” thinking eats away at a business, just like termites do at a house.

I remember when I first got my salon’s computer software. I cried myself to sleep at night that week!

I had managed to reach the age of 40 without ever so much as sending a single email, and I was a total newbie.

My new computer fixed a problem I never anticipated it would resolve: There was no more discounting, because nobody could discount.

To apply a discount you had to put a reason why, and we didn’t have any.

That slammed the discounter’s brakes on so hard you could smell the rubber burning at the cash register.

It really only took a couple of days before all the girls got the knack of telling the good news/bad news story, as you’ll ready below.

Your best clients won’t care whether you’re discounting to not – unless they’re mad at you for not telling them.

The other ones … well, if they won’t pay anything that even resembles full price, you’re better off without them.

Lisa Conway


Yes, I am shouting! To make it really simple, think like this: It’s either full price, or it’s free.

I have never felt the need. I give my clients my all – 100 percent every time – so I want to be paid in full.

If something is $47 then it’s $47, so why make it $45? Do you really thing those two dollars are going to make any difference to the person you are offering this discount to?

This practise is going to cost you serious money over time. You and your team need to understand that no good comes of this sort of thing.

I started working with a salon a couple of years ago and saw that they had set all their services at reasonable prices. But then I noticed that the average dollar sale was really low and I immediately became suspicious.

It was a beautiful salon. Great price point. Excellent work, as far as I could see.

I looked deeper and noticed discount after discount … family, friends of the family, the person who once lived next door, same last name as family (no relation), and who doesn’t even have a family. Really?!

Some salons have a 50 percent off policy where staff can nominate two people to their “buddy” list, which they can review only once a year. Then anyone else can volunteer as a model in a training exercise.

This especially applies to family. I don’t think we should be making money off family, however I think they coUld be the models you need to train your team properly, rather than offering discounts.

We all need models to train the team and it doesn’t mean they won’t look good at the end.

Send family in for facials and other in-services training, like haircuts and colours, with junior team members. It’s great practice for the juniors and the “models” give us the feedback we need.

You don’t want your mother paying for her service but there needs to be guidelines.


Clients will get annoyed if you’ve been giving them discounts when they never asked for it in the first place and you have to start reining the practice in.

However, if you don’t take any action to redress the situation, nothing will ever get fixed.

It makes it difficult for team members to reach their targets and it diminishes the way you perceive your own value.

So what do you say to someone who has been receiving a discount, large or small, possibly for years? Try this:

“I love looking after you, X, but I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is I have been discounting your service. The bad new is that I have been looking at my finances and I can no longer continue continue his discount. I that doesn’t work for you I totally understand. In that case, Y, [junior, first year apprenctice etc] would be more than happy to look after you at the price I was charging.”

This lets clients choose how they want to spend their money.


The other issue we run into is the client who says “I want to come every week, so can I have a special price?”.

Here is my standard reply: “We’re absolutely delighted you love coming here, and we have developed a program specifically for this situation. When you purchase a service in bulk and pay up front, we give you one for free”.

It’s up to you to decide how to make this work so your clients feel the benefits and protect your profit margin.

If you do it this way you never have to monitor whether the client sticks to his/her part of the deal. Everyone wins.

NAKED-SALON* For the past 30 years, Lisa Conway has worked in salons, managed them and owned her own – so there is very little she doesn’t know about the industry. She shares her professional and business knowledge in her new book, The Naked Salon: An Essential Guide to Time, Team and Money For Salon Owners.


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