Dear Scott: What happened to the signs that were once in every beauty shop? The signs that clearly stated what was available and how much it would cost. Cut and blow dry, cut and cream rinse, perm, etc. Now most salons have no price list, and it is a surprise after your appointment. I understand that the stylist needs to look at the hair and decide what needs to be done but really no one likes a surprise when it comes time to pay. I guess it is a bit ridiculous to see signs that state cut and blow dry, cut and special deep conditioner, perm and comb out, and second rinse, hair spray, gel are extra. It would be sort of like ordering a burger with extra cheese but hold the pickle and toast the bun. Do you have any suggestions as to how to navigate an appointment without getting a big surprise when it comes time to pay?

Answer: The salon business structure may seem the same as 25 years ago to a client. For the salon owner and hairdresser, everything has changed.

In the past, a salon owner made an investment with the expectations of receiving a return on the venture. Commercial real estate rental, remodeling and expensive equipment were purchased. Hairdressers were hired to work on commission. This was a good arrangement for all involved. New talent and qualified stylists who could not afford the investment or did not want the responsibility were paid good commissions, and a salon owner could make money from their initial investment. The salon owner also had control over the practices of the staff.

Then, salon owners got the idea to rent booths to established stylists. Renters pay a small amount weekly for the use of a chair and the amenities of the salon. These people are responsible for their own advertising and cliental following. This was thought to be an easy way for salon owners to pay bills and not worry about building a stylists clientele base. The booth renters are also responsible for the maintenance of their own education, eliminating the responsibility of educating the staff.

As long as the rent is paid every week, the quality of work or professional ethics seem to be up for debate since these individuals are considered self employed and not employed by the salon.

Sadly, the salon owner of today cannot justify the expense of educating and building a business for new talent that will move to a salon that offers booth rental once their business has been built.

Booth renters are permitted to charge whatever they like for their services, making a posted price list almost impossible. If price is an issue, it is best to ask how much something costs before you buy it.

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