Young Nails Blog

Salon Pricing Structure What does Nail Art and a Supreme Pizza have in common?

Hot on the heels of another incredible Young Nails Reno Roadshow, we answer the crowds’ most burning questions. Much to Habib’s surprise, no one raised a hand to ask for takeaways on his new found freedom, the sugar-free life. Instead the room, packed with professional nail artists, was abuzz with this very important topic:  “Who needs a salon pricing structure?” The answer in short order is...You. Before you dip your toes into the Social Media and Marketing of your business; a pro nail artist needs to be crystal clear on their overall pricing. This is step one in your business plan. Every dollar you can bring in affects what you can spend on the business and eventually what you can spend on yourself.  In the conversation below, Habib Salo, CEO and Tracey Reierson, General Manager of Young Nails outline how clear and consistent pricing guarantees happy clients and puts money in the bank. No freebies. No favors. This is a business.

In an IDEAL world where everyone clocked the same amount of salon experience/sweat equity as Tracey, you’d be booked busy with an average of eight clients per day and your Salon Pricing Structure resembles something like this:

A Basic Fill: $60
The first tier of the pricing structure is a Fill at $60. This amounts indicates a certain level of quality and expertise. It establishes a baseline for future full service enhancements. You know how some supermodels don’t get out of bed for less than some ridiculous dollar amount a day? Well, this is your chance to project some of that next level self-confidence. (Service Time: 20-30 minutes to complete.)

A Full Set (Acrylic or Gel): $90

The second tier is for a Full Set of Acrylic or Gel for $90. Start with a set of nails that will give the client exactly what that they need. Each client lives a different lifestyle.  Their hands have different performance needs. Keeping the pricing for Acrylic and Gel the same allows the client to make a decision not based off any perceived price difference. (Service Time: 60-90 minutes to complete.)

Nail Art: $5 per glitter or $10 for airbrush
Listen up. This is important. Always charge for nail art. If you aren’t charging for it, start ASAP.  How do you charge for nail art? Should I charge per finger? Should I charge per hand? On our “How Much” YouTube videos; we talk about pricing in serious detail. We discuss it in a way that’s very logical and easy for a customer to understand. If it’s straightforward to understand, than it’s easier for the client to ask for it. In these videos for example, you can get an idea of how much to charge for a three glitter fill.

We price out nail art like a pizza joint charges for a supreme pizza. Each topping has a price. Add up all the toppings and that’s the price of the pizza. No one thinks twice about it. It’s the same for how you’d find prices at the local ice cream shop. A double scoop costs more than a single.  A banana split triple scoop sundae with all the toppings would cost more than a triple scoop. Get it?

So how does that translate to nail art pricing?  For nail art, we charge an additional $5 per glitter. This is literally per jar of glitter used. It doesn’t matter how many fingers it lands on. The charge is a material cost. If the nail art uses 3 different glitter colors than the nail art would cost an additional $15.  Fun Fact: Did you know there is about $600 worth of profit to be made off of just one little jar of glitter? For airbrush nail art, pricing starts at $10 for one color. If the design uses more than one color, then you would upcharge $2-$5 per additional airbrush color used depending on the complexity of the design.

The “Don’t Worry About It”  
This is never a good pricing option in a successful nail artist’s Salon Pricing Schedule. You must always consistently and transparently charge for nail art. When you fail to charge a client for nail art services and give them the... “Don’t worry about it this time” pricing; you are not being clear with yourself about your worth as a professional. You are not being clear with your client about of your expertise and cost of goods. This is a recipe for disaster and dissatisfaction in your business.

The One Price Fits All
Can I offer one price for all services? For example the $60 per service theory. This is a deceptive and oversimplified approach to pricing that will not turn a good profit. This one has us running down the hall screaming with fear. At first it seems like it makes sense. It’s like charging $1 per minute = $60/hr. Only in the salon, it doesn’t really work out because all services are not the same. For example: a Full Set at $60 can take an sixty minutes or up to ninety minutes. Any time you go over sixty minutes, you are reducing your hourly rate. A client comes in for a Fill and it takes you twenty to thirty minutes.  At a dollar per minute fill, that would mean you would have to charge less. You’ve started to chip away at your hourly rate because of the ease of one price fits all pricing structure. You are now earning less. Come on now; price accordingly. This is the beauty business and your client is already pretty familiar with the pricing structure set at their favorite hair salons. They expect to pay a different price for a simple cut, a cut/color, single color process, highlights, balayage, blow out, or bangs trim.

Keep it on repeat. One price does not fit all. There is not one business in the world that charges one price for any product and service, not even at the 99 Cents Only Store. On commission, the salon itself is handling the pricing for you; you won’t have much control over that. If you booth rent or operate out your own salon suite, it is up to you to set up your pricing. Face your fears and discomfort. Speak up for yourself. You deserve to have the profitable career of your dreams.

One more thing...we don’t want you to structure your business around a day to day hourly rate.  However, keep your time and know how much you are earning per hour. You’re table should be generating the same amount of money per hour. Tweak the number of clients you need to book per day or how fast your providing services.  Think way bigger. Be aware of how and what you are earning per service. Have a target income in mind and work backward to understand the many ways the services you offer and upsell can turn into that profit goal during the run of a week; month or year.  You’re table should be generating the same amount of money per hour.

We know that this ideal salon pricing structure outlined might feel like a bit of a reach for some of you out there. Consider this a trajectory or goal for your business. We understand that where you are at in your career in terms of experience or geography can affect what the market is willing to bear.

There are some nail artists out there who are within spitting distance to this ideal pricing structure. To you, we suggest you begin increasing prices by $5-$10 more dollars. It might feel scary at first. It might feel like your established clients are going to abandon you. They will understand as long as you know how to explain it to them. We do not recommend an overnight price increase bombshell sent via text, email, or voice mail with a new price list. Your existing clientele need to be prepped for the price increase. The way to do it is in an easy and casual face to face conversation. So have a nice price list at your station ready. While you’re line up your materials for their current service, let them know that the cost of product has increased and you have to increase your pricing accordingly. It’ll be effective next month. In the meantime, you would be happy to suggest some great design incentives that will look just as gorgeous at a reasonable price. Here you can introduce loyal client nail art pricing along the lines: 4 glitters for the price of 2. At the same time, any new clients start out with the new increase pricing. No need to back peddle here.

Some nail artists might be coming from a place of  totally under-charging for services or not They are not charging at all for nail art. Their salon structure might be $25 for a fill with nothing on top.  The transition to an ideal Salon Pricing Schedule can be done. It will just take a little more time. Start by bumping up your price by $5-$10. Then, slowly, start charging additional for nail art services. A $5 increase is often not a big deal. Obviously start where you’re at and move from there. We do not recommend an increase in prices in a fast switch out. We do not recommend that you increase prices out of nowhere and when asked you say Young Nails told you to do it. Do not put your client on the spot with a same day increase.

Everyone needs time to wrap their head around the new pricing. Again, just charging for your artwork. Force yourself into having what might be an uncomfortable conversation. Nail Artists are in a communication business. You’ll be ok. Believe you’re worth it and so will they. Your clients already like you and your work. Explain that your business is going through some changes. Costs have gone up. It’s not major increase. Just a small one. Advise that you can still offer great art at reasonable prices and show them some curated looks at that pricing.  It is the best way to move toward profitable services. For example, upselling a glitter on only 8 clients per day is about $10K income boost. Don’t forget about using loyal customer specials. They’ll feel taken care of and so will your bank account. Ka-ching!

The Instagram Test And How Much
A good way to know if you have your pricing in order. Look at Instagram. The formula depends on your market overall. Check out the nails and see if it’s airbrush, tip overlay, SlickPour (dip powder) or Gel Polish. Name that price. You should be able to come to it off the top of your head within a few seconds...just in time to put on a similar set.

*This is an adaptation of the Young Nails Biz Talk on YouTube. For the full video, click here.

Please share with us how you structure your way and how you go about it, do you need help? Hit us up in the comments on YouTube or DM us on our social media.


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