If only l got a dollar for every time someone said to me “That other kiosk at my local shopping centre only charges $10!”. I seriously would be opening up my 4th Brow Bar with all the proceeds!
We all know the cliché ‘You get what you pay for’. However, it honestly is so much more than that. I committed years ago when l started this blog to be frank and honest about what it’s really like to run a beauty business, warts and all. So here l am to unearth for you how you get $10 Brows in todays economy where NO small business can sustain a successful operation whilst under charging so lowly.
So how do they exist out there you may ask as many salons do? I would even say any price points for Eyebrow Threading $20 or under is what l would define as deathly low.
To put us all on the same page, we charge $28 at Ottoman3 for Eyebrow Threading. In the 6.5 years since we opened our doors, l have only ever put the price up once. Our opening price was $25 for the first couple of years. On the odd occasion l may do sales and promotions that can reduce the price, but these are limited offers to reward our regular clients.
In 6.5 years our rent for all our stores have gone up 6.5 times! Now, we are starting to get into the crux of it all.
You see, to operate a Brow Bar, there are some key operational costs that are non-negotiable. In the prime locations we are in across our Highpoint, Watergardens and Melbourne Central stores, we not only have some of the countries highest rents to pay, we have annual rent increases. This costs must be fixed to our price points and if we were to charge at $10, we would barely be able to cover just this one line item. Next time you are in the shopping centres, have a look around where these brow bars are located and you will often find them in lower traffic areas or blind spot locations which often help in getting a lower rental rate and perhaps help justify the $10 price point.
For all small business owners or those aspiring to be, salaries are the most tricky of them all. One is to ensure that your team is not only being paid the industry standard and or above, but that their rights are in line with the Industry Awards & National Employee Standards. At Ottoman3 we invest a lot of time and money to ensure our team are looked after fairly and even have a 3rd party agency that we have contracted to protect our staff of their employment rights.
Over the years l have had the privilege to meet and interview some very interesting people who have since become our Brow Artist or Masters and others l have wished good luck in their future endeavors. You can imagine that the Brow world is fairly small, especially with Eyebrow Threading and we have quite often interviewed people who have worked or currently work at many of our competitors.
My corporate background has taught me the art of negotiating when it comes to salaries, so it was quite a surprise to me when l first started Ottoman3 that people would ask in the interview what the hourly rate was. We have since learnt how to deal with that situation, but the one that stumbled us the most, was when people flat out asked us if they could get paid cash. We have employed over 100 Brow Artist over the years and l am proud to say as loyal Australian tax payer, l have NEVER paid any of my Brow Artist cash and go through the torturous monthly activity of entering Superannuation and paying tax on every dollar l spend l salaries.
Just today we received an online job application stating that if the job was cash in hand, she would attend the interview, if not, she would give it a miss! Needless to say, she did not get an interview.
Yet the one request that had me at my knees in utter shock was when we started to get asked if they could work for a lower rate or even free, if we would just simply sponsor them for a visa.
For anyone who has gone through a visa application of any sort and in any country, you will know the complex nature of it and expenses involved in the process. Why we would happily sponsor someone we have known for precisely 4 minutes and had no history with is still a concept l cannot get my head around. When the audacious requests are asked, l just as audaciously respond with the question “Why, do you know a company that would?”.
“Yes” has been the response to every one of these questions. I have been told on several occasions that they would be paid cash in hand from our competitors, so it only seemed normal to them to ask us such a question. As for Visa’s, we have also been told that our competitors have had them work for free in return for giving them sponsorship into the country.
Into our 7th year of operation, we are now looking to sponsor one of our longest serving employees as her master skills are irreplaceable and l can tell you first hand, this process is HARD.
So we go back to the concept of paying staff cash in hand versus paying them salaries that pertain tax and superannuation. Beyond that, the workload involved playing by the rules in this country means that 6 people are involved every single fortnight to just do our payroll. So ironically, payroll is an added operational costs.
I will not dwell on using good quality material and product in our stores when it comes to services, ie: high quality aloe vera gel, antibacterial thread, thoroughly sanitized tools on each service etc… these too are added costs to service that are inevitable.
There are many places l can save dollars in order to reduce to the price of our services and that my friends would mean consequences in return. Such things like saying goodbye to our prime locations, under trained staff who are at work for the cash and not the passion of brows and most likely rusted tweezers that have hints of the previous clients blood on them. This ladies and gentlemen is how you get a $10 Brow.
In the near future we will be looking to increase our prices for the 2nd time in 7 years. I hope you can understand the need for this and respect that in return we will continue to deliver our passion for your Brows each and every time.
Mini Sarkissian xoBLxo
xo Beauty Lover xo