By Samantha Ashenhurst
Breaking a habit is tough work—no one knows that better than Meridee Hlokoff. In 2006, after smoking for half of her life and trying to quit more times than she could count, Hlokoff decided enough was enough. On the recommendation of a friend, she tried laser therapy (a form of alternative medicine) to kick the habit and was blown away by the treatment’s effectiveness.
“I started telling every smoker I met that if they wanted to quit, laser therapy was the way to go,” she says, “but it felt like no one knew what I was talking about.”
Despite her initial success, Hlokoff started smoking again five years later.
“The treatment itself was incredibly successful, but I never learned to understand my addiction,” she says. “If, in addition to the laser therapy, I had been given the practical tools and support I needed, breaking the habit would have been much easier.”
Hlokoff returned to the clinic for another session, which proved effective. While receiving treatment, she learned laser therapy was something she could be trained to administer herself. Hlokoff decided to obtain her certification and develop a comprehensive treatment program that could offer long-term success.
“After finding such minimal support and information on the treatment as well as quitting smoking in general, I knew I needed to create an effective program that supports people during times of challenge,” she says.
In 2011, Hlokoff established LaserQuit.
“At the time, I was a single mother of two kids and was managing two other businesses,” she says. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to commit to the LaserQuit clinic full-time, but that wasn’t my intention; I just wanted to help people the best I could.”
In addition to laser therapy treatments, which can eliminate a person’s physical addition to nicotine, Hlokoff offered consultations, designed to help her clients understand their habitual behaviours, as well as post-treatment sponsor-style support to further ensure individual success.
Within a year, thanks to positive word-of-mouth, the business took off. Hlokoff has experienced an average annual growth of at least 15 per cent per year. She decided to start franchising as a way to further the program’s reach.
Eight years after its founding, LaserQuit has treated more than 5000 people with a success rate of 95 per cent.
“Going to work every day and helping people change their lives is the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced,” Hlokoff says. “People are so grateful for the support and their resulting success.”