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Free coffee or not? The BIG Debate!

Two salon owners discuss the pros and cons of charging for coffee in the salon. There is no doubt that increases in rental rates and the uncertainties surrounding the economy are making it a difficult business environment for everyone so is it a positive or negative to ask clients to pay for the drinks they have during their salon appointment?

For Charging for Coffee

Leigharne Philips says:

“The cost of running a salon has increased so we need to consider different ways of generating extra revenue. In my opinion, it’s perfectly reasonable to offer a complimentary first drink. After that, you could provide clients with a price list if they would like further drinks during their appointment. Your client might feel more comfortable asking for another americano if the menu has a wide variety of options. I’ve even considered hiring a barista to look after our guests. This would mean our team could focus on the quality of the hair service.

Customers are happy to pay for quality so why shouldn’t we charge and make it part of our business? We want to cater to all of our client’s needs, however their needs are increasing daily. Vegan diets are growing in popularity so we offer skimmed milk, semi- skimmed milk, soya milk and lacto milk. We have brown sugar, white sugar, sweeteners, cubes, sachets, fruit teas, mint teas and green tea. We also have prosecco, wines and beer – the list is endless. We have napkins and fancy latte glasses, we have wrapped biscuits, chocolate mints and sometimes we offer fruit and croissants. All of this is a luxury and it costs us money to supply clients with all of this choice. At The Hair Business we’ve always used the best products and invested in our training and customer service. Offering a coffee was originally a token gesture but it is now an expectation.

We need to manage our businesses with growth in mind and keep our standards high. All of this needs to be sustainable so that we can continue to employ people as well as train and develop those wishing to join our industry. There is no doubt in my mind the coffee industry is growing all around us and we need to be part of it. As they say, every little helps.”

Against Charging for Coffee

“We pride ourselves with a high level of customer service and to charge for a coffee would simply be insulting for us and the client. It is fair to say with rising costs, business rates and all that comes with running a salon, money needs to be recovered wherever possible. Your salon’s postcode should dictate the cost of your services, however, the price of coffee is the same wherever it is made.

Your salon has only one chance to impress a new client so at what point during the client’s visit do you inform them of the charge? Do you tell them at the start and say: ‘Hello how are you today, would you like a coffee and just to let you know there is a charge for all beverages’ or do you tell them at the end and say: ‘Your bill today is highlights, cut, toner, shampoo, conditioner and a coffee’? We take great care in sourcing delicious beverages and the way they are presented should have as big a wow factor as the hair service the client is receiving. The cost is minimal compared with the satisfaction a complimentary beverage service can provide.

Hairdressing is such a personal experience. Our clients place their trust in our hands and making them feel relaxed is part of that experience. Small details like an artisan coffee or a special tea gives your customers a moment in their day to take a deep breath, reflect and relax.

Little touches like coffees and free in-salon treatments are what will keep your clients coming back time and again. We have always held the value that our salons are a home from home. Our décor was inspired by interior design magazines as opposed to a clinical laboratory. Every client is treated like a guest in our salons and you wouldn’t charge a guest in your home for a cup of tea so why would you in your salon?”


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