The Debate: Should you Offer ‘Mates Rates’ in your Salon?

by eleanor / last updated September 15, 2020

Mates rates in salon

We’ve all had friends and family who are keen to get their hair done, but should you offer them ‘mates rates’ in the salon chair? Much like the use of loyalty cards, it’s a hot topic.  Two industry professionals discuss whether you should offer discounted services for friends and family.

Should you offer mates rates in your salon? Yes, says Sally Brooks

Sally Brooks

“We offer special rates – but with stipulations,” says Sally Brooks, co-founder, Brooks & Brooks, London.

All hairdressers know the frustration of being invited to a friend’s for dinner and them texting asking if you can bring your scissors. There’s nothing worse than every time you see your friends and family they ask you to do their hair, especially when it’s your day off!

So we offer special rates to the team for their friends and family to come into the salon, but we do have stipulations. They can only offer this on days when we’re not as busy – so a Monday or Tuesday – and not in the evening. We also encourage them to book their friend or family member in with a more junior stylist to help them build their confidence. It also helps them build a client base so it’s a win-win for everyone.

As a salon owner you have to keep an eye on this to make sure people don’t take advantage of it, but generally we find it works really well. Because we have rules set in place no one takes advantage or ruins it for everyone else. And it’s nice for their family to come into the salon, meet the team and see where they work.

One thing we don’t really offer in the salon is complementary appointments for press and bloggers. I’m not sure it adds value to the business and we don’t feel it is right to offer a free appointment to them – if anyone is going to get a free appointment it would be a loyal, long-standing client that was having a big birthday or fallen on harder times. The best way to build a strong client base is by word of mouth and showing that you generally care about each client.

Should you offer mates rates in your salon? No, says Karen Perry

Karen Perry







“We offer discounts to other local businesses instead,” says Karen Perry, salon owner and director, Room 97 Creative, Leeds.

We opened in Leeds three weeks before the lockdown started in March, so we didn’t have time to implement any of the marketing ideas we had before we had to close. But since we reopened in July it’s been all systems go. We are situated in the main shopping centre and offering mates rates or discounts for family was never really discussed. Instead, we take part in a scheme called Parklife, which is run by the complex management. All businesses get 10% off in the other businesses – so staff at Gino’s restaurant receive 10% discount in the salon and vice-versa, we receive 10% off our bill when we visit the restaurant. So rather than general discounts to team’s friends, this is more targeted discounting that brings new people through the salon’s doors.

We’ve been this discount since we reopened in July and it has brought us a lot of new clients from the surrounding shops, offices, gym, cinema and restaurants. And in return we probably go to shops and restaurants we might not have done before. However, the discount is only available to use Monday-Wednesday but can be used with any stylist. It’s a great way for our younger team members to build up their clientele.

Many of our team usually do their friends’ hair at home – we all get those invites for a drink but asking you to also bring your scissors! We also find this discounting works better than general blanket discounting – for example, 10% off your first visit. We find these kind of discounts just encourage discount seekers who come for the offer and then resent paying full price next visit.

This has been a much better way of discounting than just friends and family – and I’d encourage any salon to team up with local businesses rather than the general public.

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