Why haven’t you raised your prices yet? Is it because you’re fully booked weeks in advance with low overhead? I doubt it.
According to Bizfluent, 43% of salon owners are self-employed and earn an average of $11-$14 an hour. That’s it! You didn’t courageously start a company, create a business plan, market and advertise yourself relentlessly, just to make minimum wage.
If you’re avoiding having an uncomfortable talk with clients about money, you can’t avoid it forever. Competition is fierce — the salon owner down the street who’s full to the brim with satisfied clients and has a lively social media presence had the money conversation yesterday.
Fear and uncertainty are the #1 reasons independent stylists are hesitant to increase their service menu rates. You’re fearful of losing regular clients, the foundation of your business, and you’re afraid you won’t be able to prove your worth to new clients and get them to book you at higher prices.
It’s time to be confident and unapologetic about your business goals. You should be striving for client respect, a stream of quality customers, and personal growth each year. The biggest threat to those goals? Never increasing your prices. Low rates signal low-quality service or product to consumers.
Here’s how to confidently tell clients your rates are going up.
Change Your Mindset
Changing your mindset is like building a house. You design a dream home, consult an architect, and slowly build brick-by-brick until complete. To grow confidence: you map out your goals, model successful salon owners, and turn your dreams into reality.
- Focus on the outcome
Envision yourself with a fully booked schedule. You’re working the hours/days you want and you still have time left over to focus on the business. And when it’s vacation time, it won’t affect your cash flow. You pay yourself generously, and you’re not up to your eyeballs in debt. This will happen when you raise your rates!
- Find a mentor or an online group
Have you reached out to fellow entrepreneurs for advice? Secret Salon Owners Society is a Facebook group with over 11,000 members who share knowledge on growing their clientele and income. Hairstylist, Eshe Todd, made $500 a week, hired a salon mentor to change her mindset and now makes six-figures. Contact former teachers or join a professional organization in your city to help take control of your career and find your voice.
- Read a motivational story
Copying the behavior of successful people helps you spot your areas for improvement. Christine Le makes $600,000 a year as a hairdresser and offers tips. Check out StyleSeat’s blog for success stories from top stylists and how they grew their brands on inspiration.
Raise Your Rates Strategically
Client respects your value: A weak attempt to explain a new price change lowers clients’ perception of you. You want respect, to be seen as an authority, and to develop brand equity. Campaign Driveexplains, “Negative brand equity can mean misalignment between your brand and consumer opinion, which can ultimately hurt profits if not managed and maintained. That’s why building positive brand value is crucial for the success of businesses.”
Do you allow clients to walk all over you? Building brand equity includes creating boundaries and a positive image/association with your salon. Stop disrespectful behavior that drains money, hold firm and believe in the quality of your service to convince customers of your value.
Client understands benefits: Without clear benefits over the competition, you give customers a reason to leave. Why should they stay with you at a higher price? Benefits to clients could be: a beautiful salon environment, luxurious products and equipment, or refreshments and wifi. Many salon/spas struggle to provide the customer experience to satisfy clients because of a limited budget; edge out the competition with an impressive ambiance.
For your service menu create bundle deals and offer seasonal hair treatments. Modern Salon suggests “Winter is the time to address parched strands and static flyaways. Industry NKY, a salon in Newport, Kentucky, offers two types of botanical hair therapy treatments that address dry, damaged locks.” Try package deals during prom season, Mother’s Day or Halloween offering fun temporary styles to your service menu. Clients love to feel like they’re getting more for their money.
Secure old customers: Create a sense of urgency for clients to book an appointment. In the beginning, loyal customers may feel tempted to flee, but reminders of why they come in the first place will keep them on board. When sending out notices, give old clients a chance to book at the same rate one last time. This is a great opportunity to speak in person, drum up good memories of special occasions where you made them look fabulous, and ask about upcoming events.
Prevent customers from procrastinating, simplify scheduling their appointment with StyleSeat’s online booking. Review your service menu, and find ways to present offers differently. If you sell high-end treatments, does your menu reflect that? Play around with names and descriptions to make your message more appealing.
The Ritz Carlton named their massage treatment a Coastal lavender indulgence. The description for the service pulls you in with “Encourage a restful night’s sleep with the intoxicating aroma of lavender. Relax in a warm fragrant cocoon and feel the day’s tension slip away.”
Remove generic writing from your service menu and online booking account. Customers will shell out any price if your offer is positioned right. You have the power to turn rocks into diamonds.
Handle Objections Professionally
Do you break down at the slightest objection? Customers won’t rush to hand over more money; preparing responses to ease their concerns is much better than an emotional reaction. Mastering objections is part of your sales process, try these tips to handle customers with grace.
1. Don’t show defensiveness with clients. Instead, thank them and welcome feedback—even if it’s rude. Responding to rude comments with grace shows tact and gives you the upper hand. Sales expert Anthony Iannarino states, “Stop looking at objections the way you’ve been taught. Your prospective clients aren’t objecting — they are trying to express a real concern. You don’t need to ‘overcome’ the objection. You need to look deeper, explore the real concern, and help your prospect resolve it so they can move forward.”
2. Practice speaking to clients. Deliver logical reasoning to your change the first time, don’t fumble over your words, and show insecurity to customers. Practice client role-playing with friends or family members. Create customer personas you’ll encounter such as prospects, loyal customers, stubborn clients, or uneducated customers who need more information to close a sale. If you don’t have a sales script in place, write a few templates for each scenario to memorize and stay on track when communicating.
3. Don’t take no for an answer. Stubborn clients need time to come around and sometimes don’t have money to pay you and they might do business elsewhere—that’s okay. A follow-up strategy to retain clients will bring long-term sales. Try following-up through a short email campaign or a quick message on social media to gauge if they’re ready to buy again. Be personable in your approach and show genuine interest in their lives, keep them up-to-date about what’s new in your salon and see if you have services to fit their current budget. Be persistent with marketing and follow-up months later showing them why you’re worth the price.
Nobody likes surprises. Throwing price increases on customers without warning can be the biggest mistake. Instead, outline a transition plan and have a timeline.
- Weekly/monthly customers: give loyal clients at least a 1-2 month heads up before the change. Invest more time in transitioning loyal clients as they make up the foundation of your business.
- New customers: for customers who just started working with you, this can be frustrating, but letting them know right away will shorten the time to get used to new prices.
Marketing: You will lose on average 10% of your customers during the transition. Amp up your marketing activities to bring in new leads and replace lost revenue during this time.
Earn More As A Stylist
Discouraged business owners constantly feel the need to validate themselves. The salon industry has low wages, and business is very competitive—you have a lot to prove.
Every entrepreneur has walked the same path as you and successful business owners know when to accept criticism and hold their ground.
You deserve to earn the income that sustains your business and lifestyle without having to feel sorry. Ask for the money you want without fear and take your business to the next level.
Not signed up for StyleSeat yet? Try it here.
For more business tips, check out these articles: