5 Steps To End The Endless Cycle Of Discounting

Want to learn more?  Watch my Youtube video on discounting here!

Why is it that we are in the only industry where we feel like we have to give everybody a hook up and a discount? I don't know about you guys, but I became a cosmetologist because I wanted to make money in this profession. I didn't want to be a hobby hair stylist and the difference between those of us who just do it for fun and those of us who do it for money is that we don't discount.

You have to remember that as a hairstylist, you are a business person first and an artist second. They go hand in hand but it's really important that you always put yourself first in business.  This can be really difficult, I know.  We are in a very emotionally charged industry where our connections with our clients do run deep, however at the end of the day, you've got bills to pay and there aren't any professionals offering you hook-ups and discounts so you can't be doing it either.

Maybe you’re reading this thinking, “I don’t discount” but if you give away treatments for free or don’t raises prices on all clients every year or so, you’re discounting and it's a slippery slope.  I coach stylists every single month who have been offering discounts or package pricing for years and now want a way out.  The way out is more painful the deeper you get with the discounts so end the cycle now and save yourself the pain later!

I want so share with you five tips that are going to help you to quit discounting:

Tip #1- Always remember you don't get to be your client's accountant. Why is it that when a client sits in our chair and says, "Oh man, my husband just lost his job," instantly her hair cut is free? What the heck? She chose to come in to see you today even though her husband lost his job and it's so unfortunate that it happened, but you can't take a pay cut because of that. 

 Our heart goes out to her. We are in an incredibly emotionally charged industry and there's a part of us who feels like we have to give her a gift. But if your husband lost his job, do you think your clients would start writing you $60 checks just for fun? Of course they wouldn't, so why is it when the tables are turned that we have to feel like we have to hook our clients up left and right? Listen, a client made a choice to see you today. She pays full price.

Tip #2- Nobody gets grandfathered into old pricing. Listen, I know Sheila has seen you for ten years, I know she is amazing, but why would she pay the same price she paid in 2006? It doesn't make sense.

We usually do that kind of discounting because we think it's going to make our clients love us more and stay with us longer. Generally speaking, it doesn't build any more loyalty and actually, your clients think it's weird when you don't have a price increase. They wonder, "What the heck is wrong with this guy? Why isn't he increasing his prices?" It really does happen. They'll keep paying those cheap prices but a funny thing will happen. If your service level doesn't increase over time and they feel like they are missing out on something, they will leave you and see somebody else and pay more.

We generally discount emotionally, but it's not something our clients expect, so get out of that habit. Your clients will actually respect you more for it and you will feel so much better about it.

Tip #3-No free conditioning treatments. As soon as you give conditioning treatments away for free, why would anybody pay? I know that I wouldn't. If I am getting it for free, I don't want to pay you 20 bucks next time for it. Now, I know it's tempting to give away treatments when you just know a client can't afford it but her hair really needs it.  If a client's hair really needs it, it's crucial that you explain to her in the consultation that in order to move forward with a service, the treatment is a non-negotiable.

Do you know that conditioning treatments are the single most profitable service you can do in the salon? I generally recommend anywhere from a 7x to 15x price markup when you are pricing conditioning treatments. That's incredible profit, for very little work. The value in them is huge and your clients can see and feel the difference. 

I know a lot of times we like to give conditioning treatments away for free because our clients can't afford them or we assume they can't afford them. If you sell a conditioning treatment correctly, your client will see the value in it, they'll purchase it, and they'll have more respect for you and stay with you longer when they see what incredible things it's done to their hair. So quit giving them away for free. There are thousands of dollars wrapped up in your conditioning treatments. I guarantee it.

Tip #4- Know that nobody is actually proud to see a discount hair stylist. I know I am not. Clients love to save money for sure, I know I do, but the problem is that we generally don't send referrals to those hooking us up with free and discounted services.  It's a weird thing that happens, but we figure that our friends won't be getting the same discount and so we just don't even bother suggesting you.  No matter how amazing you are, your client will think of the discounted price first and the service second and it won't lead to new business.

The other problem with being the discounting hairstylist is it's a mess.  It's difficult to keep track of and can cause issues between your guests.  If a guest hears you charging one client $55 for her haircut and then you turn around and charge her $10 more, she may not even say anything to you but in her mind she's thinking "what's up with that".  

Tip #5-Just get in the habit of loving yourself enough to charge your worth. This is actually the biggest reason why most of us discount and it's such an easy fix. Realize that you are a good hair stylist. If you are lacking in skill somewhere, get educated. Getting more skillful is a quick and easy fix today with education being available at our fingertips.

What I want you to remember most today is to find your inner confidence. You are amazing. Your clients come to see you because they love you and if you are doing everything right service wise, there is no reason why they won't continue to pay more to come in and see you. If you put a $5 price increase in place in your business and your client leaves, they weren't that in love with you anyway. Have confidence in your price increases, don't be the discount hair stylist, and know that the discount hair stylist never makes a career in this profession and never makes a good living. 


Britt Seva