Money Matters

Top Dollar Techs

They charge almost double the average price for a set of nails and their appointment books are so full they turn away clients. What is it that allows these techs to command such a high fee, and how can their advice impact your bottom line?

If you’ve been in business more than five years, you are probably experiencing a scheduling crunch. Through satisfied customer referrals, your business is booming and your book has very few white areas. Does that mean you’ve reached your limit? Absolutely not. In order to remedy an unaccommodating schedule, some techs increase revenue through the help of an assistant. If that doesn’t sound like the route you want to take, see what some techs are charging, then see if there’s room for your own prices to increase.

In 2004, the average service price for a full set of sculptured nails was $44.76. That’s a figure to be proud of, considering the average set takes just about an hour. However, there are some in the industry who are making over twice that amount. These top techs aren’t as elusive as you might think. They are found not only in large high-end spas, but also in small, owner-operated salons.

What sets them apart has little to do with location and lots to do with attitude. These techs are confident the quality of their work speaks for itself so they aren’t in the habit of defending the price.

“People know that any service can be found for a cheaper price, but quality demands a higher price,” says John Hauk, owner of Belle A Rever in Dayton, Ohio. The adage is true: You get what you pay for, and techs who recognize the value of their skills realize there are clients who require exceptional service and quality, and those clients are willing to pay to have the best.

During our interviews with these top producers, we heard two common factors that account for the elevated pricing: experience and education. Each tech boasts more than 10 years’ experience, and most have invested in extra education or participated in competitions. Read their profiles and let their accomplishments be evidence that a grid-locked book doesn’t put a cap on your earning potential.

John Hauk
Salon: Belle A Rever
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Number of years as a tech: 13
Title: Owner
Specialty: Acrylic
Full set price: $75-$80
Fill price: $40
Do any clients pay less? No
Do other techs in your salon charge the same rate? No, they charge less.
What is the average price of a full set in other area salons? About half of what I charge.
What determines your pricing? The time it takes to do a service.
How long is each service? Full set is 45 minutes; a fill is 30 minutes.
How often do you increase your pricing? Yearly
What factors allow you to charge higher than average fees? My skills, education, and experience.
Advice to other techs? Be confident about your skills. Your prices should reflect your skills. If you are using name brands and producing quality work, you should be charging higher prices.

Amy Becker
Salon: Masterworks Full Service and Medi/Spa
Location: Mequon, Wis.
Number of years as a tech: 15
Title: Co-owner
Specialty: Sculptured gels
Full set price: $100
Fill price: $50
Do any clients pay less? It’s a few dollars less if the client doesn’t get pink-and-whites.
Do other techs in your salon charge the same rate? No, they charge a few dollars less, depending on their experience and how booked they are.
What is the average price of a full set in other area salons? $60-$70
What determines your pricing? Our techniques. We offer application techniques that aren’t taught by manufacturers, so we are able to get more for our services.
How long is each service? I book all services at 45 minutes.
How often do you increase your pricing? Every other year
What factors allow you to charge higher than average fees? I believe I’m able to charge more for my services because of the area I’m in, but also because of my expertise. As soon as I realized the services I was providing couldn’t be had anywhere else, I started to raise my prices above industry standards.
Advice to other techs? If you compete, you should charge more for your services. Also, if your clientele is at full capacity, raise your prices.

Jill Iannucci
Salon: Hands On Nail Studio
Location: Chico, Calif.
Number of years as a tech: 10+
Title: Owner
Specialty: Pink-and-whites and glitter acrylics
Full set price: Pink-and-white full set is $65
Fill price: $42
Do any clients pay less? If clients don’t get pink-and-whites, it’s less.
Do other techs in your salon charge the same rate? No, they charge less, around $40 for a full set and $22-$25 for a fill.
What is the average price of a full set in other area salons? Full sets run between $35-$40, and fills are around $20.
What determines your pricing? I decide how much I want to make an hour and charge accordingly.
How long is each service? An hour and a half for a full set, an hour for fills.
How often do you increase your pricing? Every couple of years.
What factors allow you to charge higher than average fees? I have the knowledge and experience. When people call and they are shocked by the price, I tell them my credentials and offer them a chance to look at my portfolio.

Rita Horwath
Salon: Hair By Steel Magnolias
Location: Boca Raton, Fla.
Number of years as a tech: 15
Title: Booth renter
Specialty: Pink-and-whites
Full set price: $90
Fill price: $50
Do any clients pay less? It’s $80 if the client doesn’t want pink-and-whites. Do other techs in your salon charge the same rate? No, the other techs charges less, $55 for a full set and $30-$35 for a fill.
What is the average price of a full set in other area salons? Average for pink-and-whites is $75.
How long is each service? I schedule an hour for each service.
How often do you increase your pricing? Every couple of years.
What factors allow you to charge higher than average fees? Being located in Boca Raton means the pricing here is automatically higher. Add to that the quality of my work and my years of experience, and I’m able to charge more money.
Advice to other techs? Once you get a full book and you can’t take any more customers, it is time to raise your prices.

Venny Peng
Salon: Vanny Nail Care
Location: Boca Raton, Fla.
Number of years as a tech: 20
Title: Owner
Specialty: Pink-and-whites
Full set price: $110
Fill price: $75
Do any clients pay less? No, most clients get pink-and-whites, so they all pay this price.
Do other techs in your salon charge the same rate? No, I work with my sister, and she charges $60 for a full set and $45 for backfills.
What is the average price of a fill in other area salons? Average fill price in the area is $55.
How long is each service? An hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half.
What factors allow you to charge higher than average fees? I am very accommodating and offer excellent service and quality. My work is consistent, and I’m very busy; in fact, I turn clients away, so the prices keep me from getting overbooked.

Lorena Marquez
Salon: At Your Fingertips
Location: Watsonville, Calif.
Number of years as a tech: 14
Title: Owner
Specialty: Pink-and-whites and colored acrylics
Full set price: $85
Fill price: $40
Do any clients pay less? They pay $35 for a fill if they don’t choose pink-and-whites.
Do other techs in your salon charge the same rate? No, they charge about $10 less.
What is the average price of a full set in other area salons? $30-$50.
How long is each service? An hour to an hour and a half.
How often do you increase your pricing? I recently increased my rates for the first time in a long time. I raised them because of the competitions I’ve won in the last few years.
What factors allow you to charge higher than average fees? Mostly because of my expertise and involvement in the industry. I’ve put in a lot of time and extra training.
Advice to other techs? If you have advanced education and you take the time and spend the money to learn extra skills, you should be able to raise your prices.

Keywords:   service pricing  

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