By now you’ve received your 1993 Fact Book and have reviewed the marked statistics section, the most popular section of NAILS’ annual reference guide. You may be struck, as I was, by the slow growth of service prices. Although nail technician income has risen steadily, at least keeping pace with inflation, prices on most services have barely budged upward in two years, and some service prices have dropped.

What does this mean? There is no indication that nail technicians are working more hours than they were two years ago or doing more clients per day. But nail technicians are learning how to increase the value of their service tickets by selling retail, by adding on services such as paraffin dips or extended massages, or by charging more for corrective work. This could explain the fair price change for the basic manicure, which increased about 50¢ nearly 5% in two years. The basic pedicure gained only 20, but that may be because more and more salons an offering a wider range of pedicure packages, from the $15 stripped-down version to the super-deluxe hour-and-a-half pedicure that can run $45.

But how do you explain why the price of a lull set of acrylics went from $42.06 in 1991 to $41.83 this year, and the average fill lost 17¢? Nail salons have been hard hit by discount shops, and some salon owners who compete with the heavy discounters may have decided that they raise their prices at their peril. Not raising your prices may be a good competitive strategy, but in the long run it can do great harm to your business.

Whether you’re a salon owner, employee, or independent contractor, your goal is to steadily increase your prices as your services are more in demand and as your cost of doing business rise’s. There are signs that it’s time to raise your prices: when your costs go up (supplies or rent, for example), after a year (and it should be done at least every two years), and when your book is completely full or when you have to turn away clients (forget about a waiting list; up your prices instead and let nature take its course).

Nail technicians must learn to put a price on the value of their time and skills. Have the confidence in your abilities and the quality of your work to put a fair price on them, not just a price that beats neighboring salons’. It is better to lose a few clients to the discount salons by raising your prices than to lose your entire business to them by lowering your prices.

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