Pricing salon services can feel a little overwhelming sometimes! Let’s get you started of on the right foot and create a salon price list that makes sense and will be EASY to change as time moves on.
My name is Susan Wos, I’m 28 year veteran cosmetologist and former salon owner. I also work with hair salons with selling salon businesses and finding salons to work in, so I see a lotta price increase chattering goin on.
One of the things we are asked about THE MOST is how to set salon prices, and best practices on raising prices. So, let’s dig into pricing, examples from real salons and suite stylists!
How you structure your pricing will dictate a whole bunch of service related issues to come. Thinking through the good, the bad and the ugly of pricing before you blast the hair styling menu is the right thing to do.
You can price by service, charge by the hour or customize every clients visit to suit their specific needs.
There is no right or wrong way to price services. You are allowed to change the way you charge, at anytime. The easiest most straightforward pricing tends to be the best way to prevent losing clients over pricing misunderstandings..
What works for other salons, may not work for yours. Pricing is as personal as beauty decor!
Factor in how much you need to be making (X) how many people you need in your salon. This is the baseline for your salon offers- everything else is negotiable.
If hair color is your primary client services, this should be the foundational service in which all other prices are geared around.
When you set an all inclusive, hourly rate for your services, the menu is really easy.
The problems with this model tend to be switching loyal clients from a la carte hair salon prices to hourly. OR educating new clients on why the hourly model is the best way to achieve their desired look.
When you choose to charge by the hour, your pricing list should include niche services. Specialized services and any add on services you may have previously performed an charged more for in the past are now part of the valued clients experience.
Piecing out deep conditioning treatments, bridal hair and hair extensions types of services can feel like a garage sale. Clients receiving these types of services want all inclusive pricing not nickel and dime charging.
PRO: Your clients usually do not care about or understand our coloring services terminology. Hair salons that have all inclusive pricing cut down on a lot of confusion and surprises.
PRO: It is MUCH easier to raise an hourly rate than to raise individual services and product charges.
CON: The hourly model for long time clients works great- for new services on unfamiliar clients it can involve a lot of establishing trust. Many salons explain hourly pricing before the first visit to avoid confusion.
Charging per service is something salon clients are conditioned to think is normal. It is the most common way to structure hair salon charges, however with awareness on hourly pricing growing, this is changing, fast!
Increasing prices when you charge per service can be less impactful, should you need to have higher prices for a select few services. Throughout this blog post you will see real life samples of what the current market rate is for salon pricing strategies.
When charging per service, try to keep the salon menu as simple as possible! Don’t risk losing clients to an overwhelming or confusing hair salon price list.
PRO: Online booking makes it easy for clients to budget their services. Some clients will spend MORE under this pricing model.
Add on service is a breeze with per services pricing.
CON: Charging per service leaves a lot of room for error and space to be questioned by clients. Let’s say you provide a particular service that requires very expensive bond repair treatments.
A client with thick hair will need a lot more product than a client with thin hair. How do you determine how much to charge if a client brings this up?
Needing to raise prices and wanting to raise your prices are two different things. You need to raise salon prices if your profit margin gets too tight for your primary services.
Wanting to increase prices is common when we receive education, awards, certifications or achievements. OR sometimes it’s just been too darn long and we need to stay relevant and competitive with similar salons.
While every salon and hair stylist is in business to make money, making more money is not usually why salons make a price increase. Customer loyalty makes it harder to understand why your favorite hair salon raised prices while all you do is express gratitude by leaving big tips or bringing fresh cookies.
Salons raising prices is nothing personal against clients, and truthfully does NOT need to be explained. Problems start when salon price increase notice isn’t handled well with clients.
Unless you have hair color and product stock holed away in some bomb shelter, you have been hit by rising costs at the salon distributor. For a lot of us, we increased our salon price service list right after the COVID shut down.
We are now all but forced to increase our salon prices again, as the economy gets more stressed.
As creatives and empaths, we never want our clients to think we are trying to use a price increase for ANYTHING other than out of need.
It’s just not the way we are. Raising prices on people who bring us baby and holiday gifts, tip us, and are there for us during hard time IS stressful.
For me, raising service prices is the worst. I’ve carefully planned out my hair salon services to be fair and to make sense.
Offering high quality services and covering my costs is my goal. So why does the outside world changing affect our mindset when a lot of us are just trying to survive?
Don’t worry about what other salons are doing, do what’s right for your business.
We know raising prices is inevitable. What if your high quality services steadily became not so great services, and your clients noticed.
Then you needed to raise the salon’s prices. How well do you think a price change will be received if your women’s haircuts are not the quality they used to be, but are now a higher price.
If the salon is losing clients because of quality, or lack of the same services that were what made the salon successful, hold off on a salon price increase notice.
Find the passion and customer service vibe that made the hair salons so great before the price changes go into effect.
A salon, spa or barber shop, (or independent contractor), should raise service prices every 2-3 years. Planning ahead for pricing change increases allows the salon owner to ramp up customer loyalty with special promotions or giveaways, softening the impact of a salon price increase notice.
Raising prices due to a special occasion such as a new location or expansion is one of the BEST times for an overall percent increase. Celebrate wins and be generous to grease the wheels when planning increasing prices.
Drawings or things like a curling iron giveaway make a price increase less dramatic. Focus on what you can give, or specials such as free bridal parties in the month of June.
Specials are wonderful things to do for long time clients that create additional services, and adds to loyal clients salon experience. Now let’s cover some good reasons to implement price changes.
Spending a ton of cash on the salon business is an investment. You can see an immediate return by giving a salon price increase notice, effective immediately once the improvements take shape.
Getting clients to buy into your investment is key. Take opportunities to chat with clients about why improvements were needed.
You will find yourself on the same page with everyone who walks in to your salon when you make clients and staff a part of price changes in the salon. Same goes for independent stylists and beauty pros.
Your clients invest in YOU! They typically support your dreams, especially when you learn other services they can enjoy!
What if your salon distributor made a change for you? If you are carrying the same products but they all have new packaging- this is a wonderful opportunity to give a special price with online booking or a large purchase.
Take this opportunity to reduce price of old stock and increase the price for new products.
Let’s start by saying MOST salon businesses have incurred a financial loss in the last few years. Some salons that offer specialized services or are corporate giants have not seen as big of losses, but most of us have!
From stylists quitting salons to cancelations or clients falling on hard times, struggling financially is more common than ever. It may not feel good to do a price increase but if it’s a matter of survival, then go for it.
Clients who don’t understand will go elsewhere. This is a great opportunity to add services like bridal hair or plan something extra fun for a special occasion.
Turn sour financial grapes into a salon that’s in high demand by giving blow dry services away to new clients and rewarding current clients for their continued support.
If you and your salon services are in high demand, it’s time to charge more. The tricky part about this amazing problem is the type of client you want to serve.
For instance: when I was behind the chair, I was always very busy. When I stated Salonspa Connection, I needed to work less, so I eliminated clients with a big price increase.
This was great at first, I was making just as much, (or more) than I was before with LESS time in the salon. But…over time what I noticed was my price increase notice eliminated most of my favorite people.
The clients that kept coming to me all were willing to spend much more on their hair which was great, they just weren’t the type of people I wanted to spend my days with.
My price increase changed my hair salon client base, and not in the way I was hoping. Just be aware of the consequences when giving the price increase notice and be prepared for real change.
This is definitely a good reason for a price increase. As a guide- more than 3 years without a price increase is too long.
Plan a price increase across the board on services every two years even if it’s not a huge amount. Retail product price increase should only occur when the distributor initiates higher prices.
Staying competitive when selling salon retail is key to success. Add salon affiliate programs in to maximize salon shelf space. Hair affiliate programs are a great way to make money on clients who don’t come to you for hair!
Should you provide a salon price increase notice? Again, there is no right or wrong way to approach price increases.
There are a of of differing opinions and ways to handle letting people know about your price increases. Making a beauty salon price increase notice is a great courtesy, but does it make a difference?
When in doubt, warn clients prices are going up. This way you are covered should people take an issue with the price hike.
Look, people won’t like it and some will appreciate the heads up. On the other side of that, I stopped warning clients about price increases.
My behavior DID cause problems and it was kind of a chicken s$%t way to handle raising my prices. My attitude was, I never get warned at the grocery store, WalMart or other shopping experiences.
On the other hand, doctors, dentists and professional services do tend to at least send an email about changes in their businesses.
When in doubt, giving a price increase notice before taking action is the best route to take. Think about your own experiences in similar situations.
How you would like an increase to have been handled?
I am a firm believer in raising aggressively so it doesn’t have to be done again, soon. Satiate the need you have to up prices, and go $5-$10 minimum increases.
Rip the dang band aid off and make a dent in your bank account. Anything under a $5 raise across the board is not worth your time and the energy it takes to raise your prices.
So, if you charge by the hour and your rate is $50 per hour, raise to $55 or $60. Doubling your hourly charge may result in losing clients, but significantly increasing it, shouldn’t.
If you charge $60 for a woman’s haircut, raise your price to $65 or $70. More than $15 price raise per service will raise questions with your budget conscious crowd.
Make the announcement in advance. Especially if your price hike is significant enough to cause problems with a good percentage of your existing clients.
The best way to defend yourself against clients who balk at price increases. is not to. IF you must make one excuse or give a reason, do so, but leave it there.
Remember- clients can go elsewhere if the price is too high, and they do. Maintain your professionalism and high service standards and let the clients leave that can’t afford you.
There is a REASON there are so many discounted hair, skin and nail businesses- price.
Going overboard with a price increase never pays off with existing clients. New clients? That’s a whole different story!
I remember being a scaredy cat to raise my hair cut and color prices. I wanted and needed to significantly charge more than I was.
Referrals and new clients came in, every day from working in a great location. I decided to raise my price ONLY for new clients.
Of course this took some great note taking and record keeping. Tracking my new prices ensured I knew what I was charging, so I could do the same next time. Complicated, but it WORKED.
Eventually, I had so many new clients who were now loyal clients, paying my higher rate, they outnumbered the old. I became unafraid to raise on the rest of my “grandfathered in” clients, long before it was time to raise again.
Emails are a wonderful and efficient way to tell ALL of your clients at once the same news. Social media announcements are wonderful as well BUT, not everyone will see it.
Calling to warn clients is not a great idea. You should give the salon price increase notice as soon as possible and always before the clients’ next appointment.
When wording any kind of change that could be potentially construed as “negative” information, it’s best to start soft.
“Hello there, (first name)!” or “Hey there, (first name)!” To start messaging off right.
Secondly, personalize your messages as much as possible. “Thank you for being our salon client, we look forward to catching up with you every XX weeks!”.
The more feelings, familiarity and gratitude you can express, the better.
Thirdly, cut to the chase. No one has time to think about or read long emails or social media posts.
“We are reaching out today as a courtesy to let you know about our salon price increase, starting 1/1/2024.”
If you are one of those people who feels the need to explain WHY you are increasing prices- here’s your chance. “Our prices have increased due to XX, it is never our intent to overcharge or mislead you in any way. Please accept this notice as a courtesy notification that services received after 1/1/2024 will be subject to our price increase.”
“We value our personal and professional connection above all else! Please reach out with any questions or concerns you may have and thank you for being part of our beautiful community!”.
Send the email or social post off and be already to answer questions. Remember you DO NOT need to explain why or what is going on.
Finding out what works best for your salon business is revealed over time. There is no right or wrong way to announce a salon price increase notice.
I hope you have found this blog to be helpful, please reach out to us with any salon ownership or management issues you are having!