Business Management

Editor's note: The Market Can Bear It; Can You?

Most reasonable people expect prices to rise every year or so, so don't be afraid to raise your prices regularly.

I attended a seminal recently on trends in the nail industry. Hallway through the session the moderator opened up the floor for questions. A nail technician in the audience asked the moderator what she should charge for an acrylic fill when a customer came in with several broken nails. Granted, this had nothing to do with the topic at hand but the moderator patiently answered the question.

“Charge for each broken nail in addition to the normal fill price,” she said. The ground now broken for any kind of question, another technician chimed in: “What do you do about clients who arrive late and still expect to be out of the salon in under an hour?”

You pay ‘rush charges’ on services you need right away,” responded the moderator, “so why don t you have a rush charge for those clients who impose on your time?

Several more questions followed some about trends in the nail industry, but many more about how to price services.

Over the past several months I have also heard from other technicians on this same theme. One reader called to ask how to go about raising her prices. She hadn’t raised them in four years, she rationalized, and wanted to know how to “break the news” to her customers.

I told her that I thought most reasonable people would expect prices to rise every year or so, and that she should just point out her revised service menu or price list when clients came in.

Our mail also indicates that many technicians do not fully understand how to put a dollar value on their time. Granted the climate is very competitive these days, but I believe that there is a disturbing trend afoot: Technicians aren’t making enough money to survive at a job they love because they are undervaluing themselves and their time.

Add it up for yourself: You work an hour on someone’s nails. You employ all your technical and artistic skills to craft perfect nails for that client. You practice proper sanitation procedures, you obey the laws of your state cosmetology board, you are insured, you pay your taxes. Beyond that, you continue your education, you advertise your services, you use high-quality products, and every once in a while, you throw in a freebie for regular clients. All these things contribute to the price you set of your services. You cannot give that away! You have to charge for that.

If you are going to compete in an increasingly competitive market, you have to put a higher value on your services and stick by it.

There is a saying in business that you can charge whatever the market will bear. Well, the market can certainly bear a $10 fill, but you cannot. Don’t be afraid to test the market.

Stop undervaluing your time and yourself. The reward will be more than heftier paychecks – they’ll be self-confidence, job satisfaction, and self-esteem.


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