How I Charge My Clients

We are practitioneers (I spelt that wrong on purpose) of cosmetology.

Being a hairstylist in this day and age requires you to be a trailblazing practitioner. A pioneer of your trade. There are thousands of stylists in this area and, due to social media, we are able to see how much talent and creativity is out in the world right now. Colorists are competing with other colorist all over the world, via Instagram and Pinterest. Social media has revolutionized the beauty industry! I used to hate on it a bit but now I am embracing it. I have jumped aboard the tech train and am now an avid blogger and social media…err.. In fact I am having a lot of fun doing it. Putting my work on Instagram and opinions on my blog has been great; its added the edge to my business that I have needed to feel like I am still progressing and being challenged after 10 years running. This shift in fads, and how quickly they are changing and spreading, used to be stressful! Clients were wanting DRASTIC color changes with each appointment, and the stress didn’t come from the skill or challenge of creating new looks.. It came with the post appointment, time to settle up…

Charging my clients has always been difficult for me, being a booth renter has it’s struggle alongside the many perks, one of those is being your own receptionist and cashier. Here I was spending large chunks of time regularly with my more daring clients, and creating super fun styles. I love this aspect of my job, but I had such a hard time charging what it was worth to spend half of my day doing a triple process color on a loyal client I loved seeing. Sometimes major color changes just involve hefty processing time and at the end of the day, I was making below minimum wage at my own business! At lot of stylists double book their colors to help recover some money from the downtime in their day, I personally don’t do this because A- my clients are paying me for my time and I think it’s rude, and B- you should never leave lightener on a timer!
At first I raised my prices, charging more for a women’s cut to balance out my extra long and twice yearly cuts, and tried breaking down my color appointments by ounce of product and foil vs no foil… After a few months, I realized I was still charging most of my regulars the same because it wasn’t the product that was the problem, and NOW my pixies are paying the same price as the girl that has hair to her waist and her blow dry takes 40 minutes! It wasn’t working and I felt uncomfortable at the end of many of my appointments.
So, I did some thinking…I needed to find a solution to my struggle with price setting.

I came to the conclusion that I had 2 types of appointments, the longer, more unpredictable overhaul appointment or the “just maintaining my look” appointment.

I was seeing clients that were transforming their look with a major color correction, or length change. I was also seeing clients who rarely make changes that are more than subtle and they just want their look to STAY. These maintenance clients are very predictable, they come in so often that you know exactly how much time you need to book so there is no need for leaving blocked time on your schedule.

An hourly rate came to my mind… I went through my client book and mentally tallied how many hours I typically see my most regular clients and how much they pay; I divided that number by the hour and came up with a fixed hourly rate. I went through the majority of my appointments dating back 6 months and found that the only clients that would pay more would be the ones I felt were being undercharged. My hour-fifteen, long, thick, yearly cuts were paying more than my 3 week 20 minute regulars, and that’s the way it should be! My overhaul color clients requesting a triple process color would pay me more than the retouch with balayage. Might be the same amount of product, but we also sell our time and need to be compensated for a days worth of work. My work and application time is consistent and well practiced. I know exactly how long it’s going to take me to apply an all over glaze and I know how much that product costs me. Take away your product cost and business overhead (divided down by the hours you work) and what’s left over is your hourly wage.

Its been nearly two years since this shift in my business practice, and I think it’s working really well. My clients feel they are being fairly charged and they get my undivided attention while I am working with their needs.

I hope this provides a new way of thinking for anyone out there in the same problem I was…
Happy Hairdoing


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