With so many factors to consider when determining your prices—including the time/duration of the service, the stylist’s level of expertise, amount of product used, amount of work/effort involved, etc.—at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual salon owner and hairstylist to come up with a structure that works best for their business.
While it’s not a “one size fits all” approach, there are some things to keep in mind to help make the process of establishing (and increasing) your prices more seamless.
“It’s important to determine what works best for you because it may not be what works for the hairstylist across the street,” says Chantel Funk, educator, coach and owner of Chantel Funk + Co in Abbotsford, B.C. “With more years in the business, you gain perspective. I look at my numbers annually—how many clients I had, how many appointments I booked, how much product I used and so on, so I get a better understanding of the averages of it all and go from there.”
The Price Is Right
While Funk believes that charging depends on the individual colourist—especially for quick colour services, since the costs are more ambiguous—she uses a pricing system she highly recommends. “The system I use is having a thorough intake process,” she says. “We have a consultation for all of our clients, which is a great opportunity to get to know one another and decide if it’s a good fit. During that appointment, we provide a client intake form that a lawyer drew up for us, which stipulates that the client is paying for our time, and results are not guaranteed. The form sets an expectation and standard of excellence that states what they owe us for but also ensures they know that we’re going to make sure they leave happy.”
While colour contracts aren’t new, they remain intimidating to some colourists and stylists who may be concerned about scaring off potential clients. However, they provide a layer of protection and peace of mind that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Everett says warning clients about price increases in advance can give them a reason to challenge or question your pricing. Instead, consider having a logical explanation ready when they ask. He says the number one reason clients leave a salon is because they are given a poor explanation about a price increase.
For Jason Everett, co-founder of High Performance Salon Academy in Roseville, California, he swears by a different approach. “Whether it be colour corrections or root touch-ups, every price should be set up by the profitability of the service in question,” he says. “Inside our academy, we teach something called Genesis Budget, which is a budgeting system that lets you see the cost of every item you sell to make sure you’re charging the appropriate price so your business can become profitable.”
Honesty Is The Best Policy
When trying to build a relationship and loyalty with your clients, it all comes down to trust. Whether it be when giving them a haircut, suggesting a new colour and even when (or especially when) it’s time for them to pay their bill.
“A lot of people have an issue with dishonesty,” says Funk. “Because of this, my pricing comes down to an hourly rate. Instead of getting overwhelmed by what the cost of an appointment would be, I break it down to a system. After my consultation and intake form, I quote hourly. I like to keep it simple and lead with integrity. I never want a guest to come in and question me about what they pay and what I charge. I think that’s where stylists start losing clients—when they’re not being upfront and honest about their pricing.”
Everett also believes being transparent is key and can help limit objection from clients when discussing pricing. “Being able to show clients—whether you’re charging an hourly rate plus colour, or having a flat rate—is an option but one thing you can do is break down the ticket further, so they understand what they’re paying for and how it’s being used,” he says. “Explaining the breakdown can reduce pushback from clients when it comes to price increases.”
For some clients, it can simply come down to their budget. With inflation impacting many people’s disposable incomes, salons and stylists should consider ways to retain the client within the salon—even if it means referring them to a colleague.
“Part of the reason our system works so well is that we work as a team, so we always have someone to refer those clients who aren’t able to afford your prices going up, to,” says Funk. “We’re able to refer people back and forth throughout our team, and it goes both ways. If I work with a junior stylist and their price point is better for my client, retaining that client within our team is helpful. If a junior stylist gets a client where they feel like what they’re asking is beyond their expertise, they’ll refer them to me. It’s really good to network and work as a collective rather than as competitors.”
Funk recommends adding value to your services. If you’re offering a specialized service, make sure you’re continually learning and improving what you offer— whether it’s a new application method or corrective formulating. If you continue to evolve for your clients, they’ll never get bored or feel like they’re overpaying.
“For us, it’s totally fine for a guest to have a relationship with the entire salon and move to a new stylist that’s more within their budget,” adds Everett. “I’m also a fan of making sure that, on a regular basis, you know that your clients will grow over time with you; not only in the income that they provide you, but as the quality of your service increases.”
Although it’s a go-to for some colourists, one form of pricing that Funk doesn’t prefer is a-la-carte since it makes it seem like services are optional to the guest.
“If the client needs to have a bond protector, toner or deep-conditioning treatment, a-la-carte is set up for them to pick and choose what they want, instead of the professional telling them what they need,” she says. “I want to have control over what I’m recommending for my guest and so when I give my hourly rate, I build that into the cost. When I price quote, I price quote as a whole package and specify what’s included.”
It’s important for stylists to have a say, offer their professional opinion and be paid appropriately for their worth and experience. Because of this, Everett recommends reflecting the level of expertise of a stylist within the pricing model.
“I’m a big fan of being able to have different pricing structures for the quality and calibre of the service being delivered because somebody who’s been in the industry for years and has massive demand for their time should be able to charge more than somebody just starting out,” he says. “But again, it all depends on the model of your business and what works for you.”
“Knowing your brand is essential for all stylists. standing in confidence in who you are, what you believe in and what you offer as far as skills go gives you a really strong foundation for charging based on your worth and value as a stylist.” —Chantel Funk, Educator, Coach And Owner Chantel Funk + Co In Abbotsford, B.C.