grow your salon, salon tips

Salon pricing guide: How to effectively price your services and maximise profitability

A hairstylist giving a haircut in her salon

Choosing a pricing model that best fits your business and brings in maximum revenue is necessary – both for a new entrant in the salon industry and for the ones looking for ways to revamp their existing pricing strategy. 

But this can be a challenging task! Partly because every business is different, and there’s no set formula to determine pricing

And that’s probably why a lot of information on salon pricing often revolves around the factors and considerations to keep in mind instead of a standard pricing formula.

But in this blog, we have tried to change that. 

While we also give you some tips on what factors to consider before setting salon prices and the mistakes to avoid, we have come up with a simple formula that you can use to finalize a profitable pricing strategy. 

So here’s what’s in the blog. You can click on any section to jump directly to it!

  1. Understand what factors impact your pricing
  2. Choose a pricing strategy for your salon business
  3. Determine the correct pricing for your services
  4. Four underrated pricing mistakes you MUST AVOID to increase your profitability
  5. Final thoughts: There is no such thing as a ‘single best idea’

How to price your salon services to ensure maximum profitability?

Pricing strategy is an integral part of any business and the right one should satisfy both your costs and your customers’ expectations. That said, it’s pretty clear that your salon pricing list has the potential to make or break your business

If it’s too low, you won’t be able to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of selling the services. Alternatively, if it’s too high, there is a huge risk of you losing your customers to other salons.

To know how to get your salon’s pricing right, you need to be aware of certain factors that can impact your costs and profitability. 

So, let’s dig in!


1. Understand what factors impact your pricing

The factors listed below are extremely important and should be taken into account when you are figuring out your salon service prices. 

I. Location 

Beauty salon

Analyzing the location quotient (LQ) of the area you want to run your salon business in can be helpful to understand how many salons operate in that particular region.

LQ>1 = The occupation is more prevalent in that area as compared to the national average

LQ<1 = The occupation is less prevalent in that area as compared to the national average

Hence, the higher the LQ, the higher the concentration of that business in the said area.

For instance, as of May 2020, the LQ of New Jersey for hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists was 1.80, whereas the LQ of Pittsfield was 0.68. 

This metric will help you understand the actual competition you’ll face in the area you want to operate in, and this can have a direct impact on the pricing strategy you should adopt (we talk in detail about pricing strategies in the next section).


II. Local economy

Adding to the location factor is the identification of the socioeconomic status of your target market.

The price set for a salon based in a big city like New York City, targeting a premium clientele will be completely different from a salon based in, let’s say, Vermont. 


III. Demand

The demand for advanced salon services continues and will continue to rise, and the age-old service demand curve applies to the salon prices as well

You need to be aware of the services that have higher demand and adjust the prices of those accordingly. 

Additionally, researching about the competitors in your locality will also provide you with useful insights into what’s popular and what’s not so that you can price your services accordingly.


IV. Competitor’s pricing list

Salon business is a competitive market and everyone in this business tries to adopt various pricing strategies from time to time.

Hence, watching your competitor’s pricing techniques and being aware of the average salon service prices becomes all the more important. This will help you understand the local demographics, their disposable income, and also the acceptable salon charges in your locality.

You need to consider this factor just to know what’s realistic and to get a few salon pricing ideas, hence, make sure you don’t copy.  


2. Choose a pricing strategy for your salon business

Man conducting a salon market research

Many industry experts have designed standard pricing models/strategies that you can use to optimize your salon’s pricing.

A carefully considered pricing strategy is vital as this lays the foundation based on which you can set the prices for your products and services. 

Your pricing strategy can vary from time to time depending on the service demand. Listed below are some of the pricing strategies that you can adopt to run your salon business effectively:

I. Skimming pricing

This strategy involves charging the highest initial cost for a service that customers are willing to pay and then successively lowering the cost over time to cater to price-sensitive customer segments.

If you are introducing a new product/service, you can adopt this salon pricing strategy to charge for that at a higher price point over a short period of time. 

This strategy can help you break-even faster because setting a higher price would not only be accessible upmarket but will also attract the ones who are referred to your service by those early adopters. 


II. Penetration pricing

According to this strategy, the services are priced low such that they appeal to customers for whom price is a major factor in their buying decision. 

If you are new in the salon business, this strategy can help you penetrate the market quickly and maximize the results of your marketing strategies.

However, you also need to be cautious about implementing this strategy since it may be difficult to raise prices later on once customers have familiarized themselves with your low prices. Additionally, extremely low prices may also indicate low quality of services. 

Hence, make sure you shift your pricing strategy once you have a stable client base.


III. Value-Based pricing

Value-based pricing is more customer-centric and accounts for the customers’ willingness to pay for a service. This involves pricing the services based on your customers’ perceived value of the service. 

This strategy can help in building a loyal customer base because you are in sync with your customer’s preferences, which is reflected in your pricing list.

But for this to succeed, you need to have a very clear understanding of your ideal customer profiles, their pain points, needs, and change prices according to their varying preferences. 


IV. Prestige pricing

As opposed to value-based pricing, prestige pricing (or image pricing) is more about establishing a superior business’s brand image compared to your competitors

If you’ve established a strong brand image in your locality, your ideal target market – the high-spending customers in this case – will opt for your services regardless of the price or quality.

So, you can charge a high price for your services due to the perceived value that your brand possesses. 


3. Determine the correct pricing for your services

I. A simple yet effective calculation to get you started

Cosmetologist applying makeup on a woman

Step I: Calculate your overall budget (running costs) per month

This is the number that will tell you the monthly amount you need to earn so as to keep the lights on in your salon.

Running costs = Product costs (beauty supplies) + Operating costs (rent, tax, utilities, insurance, and other regular expenses) + Employee salaries (payroll, bonus, commission)

Note:

  • If you are buying your products for 3 months, make sure you divide the product costs by 3 to get the product cost per month. 
  • Additionally, don’t forget to add the salon marketing costs in this pricing formula! Although setting the budget for marketing is really up to you, salon owners spend anywhere between about 3 – 7% of total sales on marketing activities.

Step II: Calculate the overall working hours per month

Determine the number of days your salon is open each month and also the average working hours per day.

Multiply both the numbers to get the average working hours per month per employee.

Avg. working hours per month = No. of days your salon is open * Avg. working hours per day

Based on the number of employees, you can calculate the overall working hours per month.

Overall working hours per month = Avg. working hours per month * No. of employees

Note: 

  • The overall working hours should only include the working hours of employees who are actively involved in providing chargeable services. It should not include the working hours of support staff like receptionist, salon manager, cleaning staff, etc. However, their salaries, bonuses, and commissions should be accounted in the employee costs that you added while calculating your running costs above. 
  • Remember that the average working hours of any staff are not equal to their logged-in hours. For ex: A hairstylist might punch in at 10 and leave by 6, but the actual time that they spend providing services may be less than 8 hours. It may vary depending on several factors like customer no-shows, cleaning of workstations, etc. 

Step III: Calculate your cost per hour and cost per minute

Cost per hour = Running cost per month / Overall working hours per month

Divide this by 60 to get the cost per minute: 

Cost per minute = Cost per hour / 60

The cost per minute is the cost incurred per minute for providing your services. This is the direct cost of your time, labor, and skills that are put in for every service.


Step IV: Calculate your per minute rate

The per minute rate is the amount you should charge per minute for your services.

Now to earn a profit, your per minute rate should be greater than your cost per minute. 

Consider the profit you want to earn and calculate the per minute rate using the formula given below: (On average, salon service profit margins can range from 2% – 17%) 

Per minute rate = Cost per minute × (1 + Profit Margin)

Do remember that different services may have different profit margins. So, make sure you calculate the per minute rate of each service individually based on the formula above with their respective profit margins in mind.


Step V: Calculate your service cost 

To calculate the cost of a service, multiply the per minute rate with the average service time. If you were to charge the customer this service cost, that would be enough for you to earn the set profit amount every month. 

Service cost = Per minute rate × Avg. service time (in mins)


While you might want to start right now with a pen and paper to find out your individual service costs based on different profit margins, it will be much easier if you do it in a spreadsheet.

And just so that you don’t have to go through the trouble of creating one from scratch, we’ve created a salon pricing calculator with all the above pricing formulas pre-fed, so that you can focus on crafting the perfect prices for your salon!

Salon pricing calculator

Drop in your email address and get access to the pricing spreadsheet now!


Also, here is an example to help you understand the entire calculation better:

Let’s assume you own a hair salon and your running costs per month are $7500. 

Let’s say it is open 25 days a month and the average working hours per day are 6 hours, so the average working hours per month will be 150 hours (25 × 6). Assuming that the number of stylists working at your salon are 2, the total working hours per month will be 300 hours (150 × 2). 

Considering your running costs per month were $7500, the cost per hour should be $25 (7500/300). The cost per minute will be $0.42 (25/60). 

Let’s assume a profit margin of 10%. Hence, the per minute rate will be 0.462 (0.42 × 1.1). 

If the average service time of a service is 45 minutes, the average service cost will be $20.8 (0.462 × 45). 


II. Advanced pricing considerations 

2 additional factors to consider while determining your salon pricing:

a) Variable product quantity

Many salon services are often priced upon the quality and quantity of the consumables used in performing that service. For example, facials done with the facial kits of different brands are usually priced differently.

Or, the price of keratin hair treatment might vary depending on hair length since the quantity of product used on longer hair would be more compared to shorter hair.

In such cases, you can add the product value as an additional factor in the last step while calculating your service cost.


b) Stylist experience 

Salon experiences are extremely personal and customers prefer getting the best of services. That’s why the stylist’s level of expertise and seniority plays a major role in how much you can charge for their time.

Every stylist can have a different pay grade based on their experience, brand value, and quality of service provided.

The easiest way to accommodate this is to add the additional cost to the final service cost to get the different pricing tiers. For example, a haircut by a senior stylist could be priced at $65 whereas a haircut by a junior stylist could be priced at $45.


4. Four underrated pricing mistakes you MUST AVOID to increase your profitability!  

I. Making your price list too complicated

Be it hairdressing or any other beauty service, coming across a widely segmented price list with dozens of sub-options – which is extremely confusing in itself – is very common. 

Make sure you keep your prices simple and realistic.

For example, you don’t need to price every haircut customization, like dry, wet cut, blow-dry, etc., differently. This will help make the list of services simple for your clients as well as your team.

Besides, your clients pay for your expertise. Keeping your salon’s service price list minimal by avoiding extremely similar services at different prices isn’t going to make them pay you less. 

This will also help in reducing undercharging as the chances of choosing the wrong service price or suggesting a cheaper service to the client is high when your employees have a huge list of services to pitch from. 

To avoid any confusion around pricing, using a salon booking software becomes all the more important. The thing with a tool like this is that you can have a standard price list that both your customers and staff can choose from.

This ensures that there is no miscommunication around pricing and you are able to maintain transparency with your customers.


II. Undercharging your salon services

Don’t get disappointed if the initial customer turnover isn’t what you expected.

This might lead you to underestimating the value of your services and eventually, you might start charging way lesser than the actual value of your services. Hence, say a big ‘NO’ to this.

You need to bear in mind that you need to pay the bills. And for that to happen, you need to gain back the true value of your time, effort, and skills. 


III. Going overboard with discounting

Salon products on sale

The amount of time and skills required to provide your services at special rates still holds the same value as any other service at the normal rate. 

Hence, carefully strategizing and planning out your discounting strategy is extremely important.

Provide discounts for salon products that are outdated and need to be cleared out. In case you have a new product or service that you are planning to offer, you can smartly offer introductory discounted rates to stimulate its demand. 

If you feel the need to not discard discounts fully off your plan, you can consider offering discounts on services that have a high profit margin. 

You can also consider providing discounts on your slowest days. This way your rush days are filled with customers who pay the full price and at the same time, you can drive traffic to keep your schedule full on slow days. 


IV. Not communicating the price raise to your clients the right way

Increasing your revenue per customer is a vital part of your business’s growth. Well, it goes without saying that in addition to this, you need to announce your price rise to your customers effectively

The key to communicating a surge in your salon prices is transparency! Be transparent with your clients as well as your team. It would be even better if you break down the pricing and the services so that they can understand easily. 

You can send emails to your existing clients, announce the change on your social media accounts, or write an announcement on your salon’s website.

To help you further with this crucial step, we have put together a complete guide on how you can effectively communicate your price rise to your customers and ensure that you don’t lose out on them. 


Final thoughts: There is no such thing as a ‘single best idea’

Coming up with a price list is an iterative process. You need to constantly analyze and experiment with your salon prices to see what sticks.

But that’s easier said than done, especially, if you are still using paper menus to communicate your prices. Every time you change something, you might need to get them reprinted, plus, there’s the added effort of making sure that all your staff members are referring to the right price list.

What if we told you that there’s an easier way to experiment with your salon prices?

Being able to manage your salon’s dynamic pricing, that too with the click of a button, seems like a dream, right?

Well, the right tool can make this dream come true and simplify the entire process for you! 

From experimenting with various salon pricing structures to analyzing the accompanying results, we suggest using an online salon scheduling software for your business!

Using a salon booking software, you can ensure that your customers come across your new updated prices when booking an appointment with you on the booking portal. And, updating the prices of your services is just a click away!

With Appointy’s salon scheduling software, you can manage dynamic pricing in one place and make sure that you and your staff are not worried about charging your customers less than the actual prices of the services.

In addition to this, with Appointy, you can also get detailed reports to stay on top of your salon’s performance by tracking important metrics like revenue generated, staff performance, and the new pricing performance before and after the introduction of the updated prices. 

We know it can be hard to believe us. How about you try it out free for 14 days and find out yourself?


About Appointy

We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day. 

If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below. 

We love a good talk!