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One of the most frequently asked questions I get from Nail and Beauty Professionals is, ‘How do I go about increasing my prices?‘ Whether you work from home, rent a table, or own your own salon, an annual price increase is absolutly necessery. After 20 years in the industry as a Nail Pro and as an Educator, I have instigated and advised on many a price increase.
Why do I have to increase my prices every year? Would it not be better to hold off if I don’t really need to?
The main reason it is necessery to increase prices every single year, is so your clientele are used to it, and expect it will be happening at the same time every year. Going two or three years without increasing prices will make it much harder for your clients to swallow. Also, if done yearly, you can increase just a few prices by a very small amount, just a pound or two. After three years of static prices you could be forced to hike them up by more than that, which again, would be tough for your clients to take on board with understanding.
Which prices should I increase and by how much?
If you intend to stick with the regular yearly increase, you can afford to increase by only a small amount. As a general rule, increase the price of your most popular services every single year. Say you increase your basic Shellac manicure service by £1 – if you usually complete 5 clients per day, 5 days a week, that’s an increase of £100 a month. This may easily cover increases in monthly rent, insurance, product cost increases, business rates and taxes. Once you have done your sums, you may find you have a bit left over to put away for training courses you want to complete, or refurbishments to your salon or treatment room. Get that new chair you have been promising yourself! If your back gets too sore to sit and do nails all day, your clients won’t be too happy about that either, will they?
Ok, I know I need to increase my prices, how do I go about it?
Give your clients warning. As much notice as you can. A surprise price increase is NEVER welcome. (Of course, if you always do it annually they are expecting it already.)
Set your date for the increase – Is there a perfect time of year to do this? Not exactly. My usual recommendation is either at the start or at the end of summer. But this is just advice, don’t use this as an excuse to put it off till next summer. You know if you are overdue a price increase now – get on it!
Notify your clients – It’s ideal to give your clients 4-6 weeks notice ahead of a price increase. Post a friendly letter in a pretty frame on your nail table or reception desk. Use it as an opportunity to have new treatment brochures/price lists printed, where you can update your treatment descriptions, or introduce new services. This also encourages regular clients who always just have the same thing to get a fresh look at some of the other services you offer.
If you are looking for help constructing or redesigning your price list or treatment brochure, check out this blog post and please feel free to use any wording or ideas you find useful from it. How to charge for Professional Nail Services
What if my clients just think I’m being greedy?
Any client who thinks a small annual price increase is motivated by greed, is an idiot! (Don’t tell them I said that…) Seriously though, clients are humans too, they understand. A small annual price increase is perfectly reasonable for any business. There will always be customers who want to moan about it (some people just believe it is their roll in life to grumble on behalf of the rest of the population), but stick to your guns, explain your point and stand by your decision.
I had one regular client in particular who always contested our price increase. She was a tough older lady and could really be quite intimidating when she wanted to be. Here is an example of the conversations we would have every single year. (She was a 2 weekly regular of mine for at least 10 years, and I loved her dearly).
Myra: You are putting your prices up again??! I can’t believe this. Did you not just put them up a few moths ago?
Fee: No Myra, it was a whole year ago.
Myra: I’m sorry but I think this is ridiculous. I mean, do you not think people will just go elsewhere? Especially now Fee, when those two other salons that are cheaper have opened just down the road there?!
Fee: Yes Myra, we did consider that, but you know, what they do down there is quite different from what we are doing. This is what it costs for us to run a sustainable business at this standard of quality. Our rent and rates have gone up, as they always do.
Myra: Well, you got new flooring in here didn’t you? Is that what I’m paying for? You didn’t need to do that, the old floor was perfectly fine.
Fee: …. We can’t have the place looking shabby Myra, it needs to be a nicer environment than just ‘fine’.
…by this point we are both laughing a bit…
Myra: Well I think it’s shocking. I’ve been a regular client here for years, think of how much I’ve spent here in all that time. Would you not keep the old prices for your loyal regular clients?
Fee: I hear you Myra, but the thing is, almost all of my clients are loyal regulars who have been coming for years as you have. This £1 price increase is the same across the board for everyone with no exceptions.
I’m not good enough to charge any more than I do already.
This is stinking thinking. It can be extremely hard to look at your own work and judge it objectively. Many of us are taught when we are young that self-criticism is virtuous, and that if we ‘blow our own trumpet’, or think too highly of ourselves that makes us ‘bad’ or undesirable. The upshot of this is that many of us find it excruciatingly difficult to openly proclaim that we are good at something. If you have regular clients who keep coming back, you are good enough. If you have taken the time and energy to invest in education and practice your skills, you are good enough. If you are working your backside off, using quality products and your clients love spending time with you, you are good enough! If it’s been longer than a year since you amended your prices and you are mostly fully booked for the hours you work – it’s time to increase your prices. Give yourself permission to say to the world, ‘I am good at nails, my clients love coming to see me, I am entitled to charge what that is worth.’
I won’t get clients if I am not competing with the cheap salons in my area.
This statement is simple not true. When we look at the evidence it does not stand up to scrutiny. ‘People are charging £15 in my area, how could I possible charge £25, no one will come to me!’ This is an assumption. No matter what kind of area you are in, my advice is ALWAYS to charge MORE than the average price in that area. I realise that might sound daft, but I promise you it’s a formula that works. The logic comes from targeting the type of client you want to attract. If you charge a higher price, you attract the clients who want to pay a higher price – it’s that simple. Don’t think those clients exist? I’m telling you they do. If you have always been cheaper or average priced for your area, you have never met those clients, because they would never have come to you. They are going to someone who charges a price that they associate with quality. If you are charging a cheap price, no matter how beautiful your salon is or how much you have spent on training, what you are saying to the world is ‘my services are discounted because they are of low quality’. That is a fact. I know Nail Professionals successfully charging a premium who have their salons, home salons and mobile nail businesses in some of the lowest income areas of the country.
What if I loose clients?
Clients will always come and go for a variety of reasons. If a clients stops coming, and says it’s because you put your price up by a pound, I can assure you that is not the whole truth. A client may use this as an excuse because they feel bad and don’t know how to tell you they won’t be coming back. If the client does want to try the cheaper salon down the road, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It gives you the opportunity to prove that what you do is better. Clients often don’t realise how good they have it, and need to experiance another place to have a frame of reference. I have had many clients over the years return after going elsewhere.
A final thought
Make sure you never bad mouth other salons in the area. Even if they are doing terrible nails, hurting people, whatever. Even if you have heard incredible gossip about the salon owner, even if your clients are desperate to engage you in nasty chat about what they experienced when their sister-in-law went to that salon down the road. DO NOT get involved in that. Make it a hard and fast rule for how to operate as a professional. It is unprofessional and risky to bad-mouth the competition – always! If your client starts talking about another salon, listen to her and then swiftly change the subject. If someone comes to you saying that people in another salon were talking about you and your business, let it slide and do not get into it. A client telling you all about another salon is guaranteed to be telling another salon all about you. Give them nothing to talk about except flawless professionalism and friendliness. If the only thing they have to say about you is that they think you charge too much, that’s brilliant, you are winning.
Thank you so much for checking out the blog! I hope you found this helpful. I’d love to know your thoughts over on Facebook, or here in the comments.