A few months ago when I asked readers how they define “discount salon,” we received more responses than we could use. In your letters and e-mails, you make some interesting—and valid—points about what works and what doesn’t in today’s discount salons, I think there are lessons for all good businesspeople in the way that discount salons operate. It goes without saying that more attention needs to be focused (and more money spent) on sanitation, customer service, and client retention. But there are a couple of practices found in most discount salons that I think all nail salons could learn from.

What’s so bad about a la carte pricing? Some nail technicians are fond of rationalizing their low prices by noting that discount salons charge for every broken nail and even for polish, but what would be so bad about charging for those services yourself? Don’t hair salons charge extra for blowing dry your hair (considering how long it takes to dry MY hair it usually costs an extra $30). Charge for items and services that add legitimate costs or time to the base service. I’m all in favor of value-added programs, but only if you’re charging for them in the first place.

And what’s the harm in buying in bulk to save? I’m not suggesting you buy drums of monomer and figure out how to store them, but why not buy you favorite products at least in 32-oz, sizes? One manufacturer of a leading brand tells me the 8-oz. liquid (Which can cost as much as a $1.50 more per ounce than the 32-oz. bottle) is his number-one selling size.

Know the true cost of doing each service. Know what you should charge for your services by knowing precisely how much of each product you use per service, how long it takes you, and what an acceptable profit margin is. Then charge accordingly.

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