When To Raise Prices (And How To Tell Clients)
Raising prices is one of the biggest issues beauty and wellness professionals cite as a top stressor. Yet, without pricing changes, it is difficult to sustain success and grow as a professional. As your skills grow, so should your pricing. Changing your perception around pricing will affect how your clients receive the change. This guide covers why pricing changes are important, when to implement them, and how to communicate the changes to your clients.
Setting Consistent Pricing
Before we begin talking about increasing your prices, let’s first establish a pricing baseline. Falling into the trap of inconsistent pricing is a big challenge for many service providers. It’s easy to allow your heart to take over and end up making emotion-based business decisions. While you might want to give your favorite clients a break, you’re not doing yourself or your client a favor.
It’s important to have a list of consistent prices you charge all clients. This practice is essential to the stability of your business and your growth. If you want to follow your heart and offer your loyal clients a discount, however, that’s your choice. Just know that if you do this, it’s important to have a conversation with them and educate them about why you're giving them a discount. Are you honoring old prices, because they can’t afford your current prices, or do you want to reward them for their loyal patronage? Also explain that while you appreciate the referrals of their friends and family to you, all new clients pay your current prices. To help have this conversation, provide all clients with your service menu outlining your prices.
Moving forward, set a timeline for when you will create a fixed pricing structure. This is essential to the growth of your business and will alleviate any issues later when you do indeed want to increase prices. If you need help creating a plan to do this, take this easy-to-follow online class. Advise all clients you have been offering a discount to that effective on such date, you are making pricing adjustments to reflect your current pricing structure. If your current prices do not fit into your customer's budget, introduce them to a highly talented service provider on your team that does fit into their budget. This can be scary for both of you. Tread lightly and take the time to ensure your client feels comfortable during the transition; after all, they are a loyal client and you want to make sure they are 100% comfortable and satisfied.
During this transition you might lose a few clients. In business, this is called a natural attrition rate; this refers to the percentage of clients you will lose from year to year. It’s normal so, don’t take it personally if your clients cannot afford your prices. New clients contact salons, spas, and shops every day requesting a service provider at the “master” level or the service provider who charges the highest prices; for many people higher prices means higher value. Don't back down; stick to your worth and the clients you deserve will find you.
Is It Time To Increase My Prices?
Now that you have a consistent pricing model, let’s talk about the when and why of increasing your prices. You must first think of yourself as a business, even if you work solo. The services you offer are your product and that is what people are buying– your talent and expertise. These are intangibles and sometimes this elusiveness makes it hard to quantify the value of the services you offer. Do not let that keep you from setting high standards early in your career. If you are a more seasoned professional and haven’t raised prices in a while, it’s never too late to begin charging your worth. Price increases are a part of doing business and clients understand the need for continued growth. When raising prices, it’s important to remember that it’s not just about increasing your services prices, you need to up your game and over-deliver. By providing outstanding service and care to your clients you can demonstrate your professional value far exceeds the price increase.
Raising prices is always a hot topic and the thought of raising prices can be extremely stressful. The good news is the decision-making process of when to raise prices is much easier than you think. Certainly, there are a few things to take into consideration before you make the jump. Let’s take the emotion out of it and let the numbers do the talking.
Know Your Numbers
Key areas to consider is average service ticket, pre-booking percentage, referrals, and retail sales percentages. The rationale is simple: if you are a high producer, then it’s time to raise your prices.
Know Your Value
It can be difficult to put a value on yourself and/or your services. Take inventory of your technical skills. How much time and resources have you invested in your continued education? Have you attended any advanced trainings or specific certification programs to keep you current and to help you master your craft? Also evaluate the level of customer service you provide and analyze your soft skills. Do you provide outstanding customer service, are you always looking for ways to go above and beyond your customers’ expectations?
Know Your Demand
How booked are you? If you went to your books and reviewed this coming week are you booked 30%, 60% or 80%? Supply and demand are something you must take into consideration. A good rule of thumb is if your booked 75% – 80%, then it’s time to raise your prices.
How To Determine Your Price Increase
Do your homework
Your homework will consist of determining your demographic. What is the median household income in my area? What do my competitors charge for the same services? You can find all this by googling this information for your area. Your local Chamber of Commerce typically provides this information on their website too.
Research the service pricing of 3 salons in your surrounding area (be sure to understand your target market first, you don’t want to price yourself out of the market). Add the 3 numbers together then divide by 3 to get your average price. From there you can either increase your prices or stay the same. Never decrease your prices. If your prices are on the high end for your area, you can bundle services together, like cut and color on certain days. It’s a good idea to stay within a $2-$7 range from your competitors. This will help to not overprice yourself for your area.
Color retouch pricing of 3 competitor salons
Salon A Charges $72.00
Salon B Charges $67.00
Salon C Charges $80.00
Total: $219.00/3 = $73.00
$73.00 falls in between the lowest and highest competitor. If you have a strong book you can consider raising your prices to $75.00. Keep your price increase between 3-7% of your current prices.
How Do I Tell My Clients About A Price Change?
The thing to remember about price increases is that the timing is never perfect, and sure, you might lose some clients. Losing clients because they can’t afford the change is one thing, this opens an amazing opportunity to gain new clients who are not price conscious, but losing clients because the change isn’t communicated properly is unacceptable. When you do decide to raise your prices communication is key, especially when it affects your client’s wallet. Inform your clients ahead of time about your increase at least a few appointments prior to the increase taking effect. The sooner the better! To help communicate your increase, post a sign at your station/treatment room as well as via email and social media. Be sure to include the effective date, new service prices, and communicate the reason (explain the cost of doing business, advanced trainings, and your continued commitment to excellence). Also share your sincere appreciation for their continued patronage.
Raising Prices Without Team Support
As an independent beauty professional, you have the autonomy to charge whatever price you want. If you are on commission or salaried, you will most likely need the support of your owner or manager. By doing the necessary homework to learn about your competitors and analyzing your numbers you will be able to make your case easily.
Price increases should be based on everything we discussed thus far as well as the personal level of service you provide your clients. It should have no reflection on what others are doing or aren’t doing. It’s entirely acceptable to raise your prices even if the salon/spa/shop are not doing a company-wide increase or if other service providers aren’t increasing their prices. Your price increase is determined by a measurable matrix. When you have done your research and gathered your data, then you’ll know a price increase is in order.
Once you’ve established your price increase, create a menu, stick to your pricing, and be especially wise with your discounts. When you give discounts too often you can affect the market for those in your surrounding area and are devaluing your worth. You are the professional; clients come to you for your expertise. Being an expert involves ongoing education and plenty of hours spent mastering your craft. Remember as time moves forward, so do product cost increases, overhead costs, and education. Repeat this assessment yearly to make sure your prices are keeping up with the market and your costs. Clients come and go and that’s ok. There will be more clients, as long as you stay true to yourself and your craft, you will succeed.
The thought of implementing a price increase is much scarier than actually making the change. Do your homework, know your worth, communicate with your clients, and enjoy the benefits of making data driven decisions that evolve and grow your business.