The why and how to raising your prices.


Raise your hand if you struggle with price increases and giving yourself a raise… Oh, hello 99.9% of you.

Friends, I feeeeeel that. I spent way too many years shying away from allowing myself to be adequately paid. I’ve let people barter my prices as if I’m selling socks at a flea market, I’ve given discounts to people who were friends of friends, and I’ve gone severely long without a price increase because I didn’t want to step on any toes. Why on earth do we do this to ourselves?

Listen, it’s tough being self employed. It’s much easier to work for someone who decides your raise and gives it to you yearly based on performance and company budget. But that isn’t our reality. Our reality is that we are solely responsible for the amount we make. Not our clients, not our salon owners, not our demographics; just us. If we don’t raise our prices, we don’t raise our quality of life. I’m going to hit you with some reasons you SHOULD raise your prices, and then some tips on how to go about it so that it’s seamless and easy for you.

Lets start with why…

  1. Your supplies go up annually, some times more.

    The color you use, the combs you purchase, the gloves you need, the products you require to do those fabulous blow dries.. you get the idea. It all goes up. So the cost of simply performing your work is increasing on a yearly basis, and if you’re not increasing your prices you’re taking a decrease instead. Seriously.

  2. Your cost of living goes up annually.

    Gas prices, food prices, rent prices, etc. Every one’s expenses to survive are typically raised annually. People who are not self employed get raises for the cost of living increase, and we deserve that also. It’s that simple.

  3. Your time is precious.

    If you’re gaining and retaining a clientele at an average rate, you will eventually get to the place where clients are pulling for appointments with you. You may find yourself unable to get them in, or worse - squeezing them in to essentially nonexistent spots. If you have a cancelation list of any length or are booked out more than 4 weeks in advance, it’s time to up those prices. Your time is precious, and raising your prices will remove the clients who are price shopping you and leave you with the ones that are true fans and love your work, not just your price.

  4. You’ve invested in your skill.

    Have you invested in your industry since the last time you raised your prices? Have you taken online or in person courses related to the service you provide? Every year us as stylists pour money in to our continued education so that we can stay on trend and relevant while offering our clients beautiful hair and incredible service. We can’t be level 10 hairstylists getting paid at a level 2 rate. Our ideal clients want a hairstylist thats modern, on trend, and highly skilled - and they’re willing to pay for it. You’ve raised your skill level, and your prices should reflect that.

  5. You’re worth it, babe.

    I think this is where we get hung up the most. It’s not even about the client at the end of the day, it’s about how we see and value ourselves. We’re so caught up in watching peoples highlight reels and judging our own skills that we don’t think we deserve to be paid more. If this is you, I get it. I’m not saying this from a place of leadership, I’m saying this because I’m the poster child of this problem. But I want you to know that you’re completely, 110% worth it. You’re talented, you’ve invested in your business, you’ve worked your ass off, and you deserve to be paid adequately. Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.

Now lets talk about how:

  1. Give adequate warning before raising your prices.

    Don’t just fling it on them one day. (Though honestly, I’ve seen this work, too.) I suggest getting a small picture frame for your station and printing out a little sign with 1-3 sentences about when your increase will take place. I like to give about 6-8 weeks notice so that my regular clients have a chance to be notified before it happens. You can also post about it on social media, but try not to make too much of a fuss over it. I typically say something along the lines of “To my valued clients, I will be implementing a light increase in my prices starting 1/1/19. I appreciate your continued support!” I’ve done this multiple times and can tell you that on average about 3/50 clients will comment or ask about it.

  2. Raise your prices by $2-$5 dollars.

    You do not need to raise your prices by $30 a service in order to give yourself an adequate raise. If you’re doing 80 clients a month (4 a day 5 times a week) and you’re raising every one by an average of 5 dollars, you’re making an extra $400 a month. My typical raise is $5 per service, which means a haircut is +$5 and a highlight/haircut/touchup is +$15. When clients ask and you say that your prices are only going up by $5 a service, most of them are unlikely to bat an eye. If your client can’t afford an extra $5-$15 every 6-8 weeks, they’re not your ideal client and it’s time to let them go.

  3. Keep your finances in check.

    If we’re not keeping track of our expenses and income, we won’t know when the right time to raise our prices is. When your overhead has increased significantly and your income hasn’t, it’s time. You can do this on your own or you can get something like Quickbooks which automates 90% of it. (Bonus: Its a major help when it comes to tax time, also.)

  4. Just do it.

    Get on Nike’s train. Like I said before, we have to get out of our own way. Pick a start date, create a note of warning, choose your simple increase, and just do it. When the increase day arrives, don’t feel like you need to tell everyone before you check them out what the difference is. Unless you’re raising your prices by some astronomical amount, I suggest sticking with a simple “you’re total is ____” with a smile on your face.

My last piece of advice is this: If you do have clients that question it, comment awkwardly on it, or require an explanation from you, you’re allowed to give them the reasoning above for why you’re increasing. I prefer for you to say “because I deserve it” (you damn well do) but if that feels weird you can always say “my cost of business has increased by a significant amount this year and I need to make sure that I can cover those costs in order to keep operating.” Or “Ive spent a significant amount of money on improving my business and skill this year, and now it’s time for me to get a return on that investment.” These are real and adequate reasons, and your ideal client will cheer you on and be happy to support you.

I encourage you to share this with a friend who you think deserves to raise their prices and needs a little push!