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Last updated: May 03, 2024

Emotional Discounting: How It Works & Why You’re Losing Money

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Photo Credit: Instagram via @thethrivingstylist

7 Ways To Avoid Emotional Discounting

If you’re a serial “family and friends” discounter or chicken out when it comes to charging longtime clients their full appointment—listen up. You’re done losing money over emotions! We’ll help you identify “emotional discounting” and how it affects your income with real tips from industry experts. It’s time for a holiday BONUS, not a price drop—let’s get started.


Emotional Discounting: What Is It?

Emotional discounting is when service providers give a price reduction to clients based on feelings. A lot of stylists relate to emotional discounting when it comes to longtime friends or clients. It can stem from guilt/assumptions you make about what clients can or can’t afford OR you may “feel bad” for charging your Aunt for a full foil…that she booked.


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Photo Credit: Instagram via @thethrivingstylist 


How Does Emotional Discounting Hurt My Income?

Taking a few bucks off of an appointment may not seem detrimental to your business, but think about it this way: “In the moment, knocking off $10 doesn’t feel like a massive hit,” business coach Britt Seva (@thethrivingstylist) explains. “But before you know it, a $10 discount can cost you thousands of dollars,” she adds. Check out the breakdown below:


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Photo Credit: Instagram via @thethrivingstylist 


Don’t Assume Friends Won’t Pay For Services

A common emotional discount that stylists give is for friends; but, guess what? According to salon owner and business expert Gina Bianca (@iamginabianca): “Real friends are going to come in, pay full price and follow your boundaries. And if they can’t afford you, that’s OK. Because they’re still going to promote your business, write reviews and congratulate you on your success,” she says. True friends want to see you WIN, and they don’t do that by asking for a discount.


Want more business advice from Gina? Watch her class with BTC’s Mary Rector (@marybehindthechair)!


4 Ways You Can Stop Emotional Discounting Now:

1. Have A Conversation About Pricing During The Consultation

Even seasoned stylists struggle with this part: Take it from BTC Team Member Carly Zanoni, aka @the.blonde.chronicles to her 600k Instagram followers. She shared on social: “Honestly, I’m 15 years in and I still struggle with this sometimes. Pricing is hard! But, one thing that really helps me is talking about the price BEFORE the appointment begins,” Carly says. Check out her script below: 


“’Based on what we talked about, the price of your appointment will be between $200 to $250 and it will vary based on the time it takes and amount of products used.’ I give a range, because hair can be a bit unpredictable. If I discuss the price before the appointment starts, I’ve already said it. It would be weird to charge way less than what I quoted in the beginning, right?” We agree, Carly! 

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Photo Credit: Instagram via @the.blonde.chronicles


2. Stop Using Discounts As A Form Of Customer Service

“It’s so easy to convince ourselves that offering discounts is the ‘kind’ thing to do. It makes us feel like we’re offering incredible customer service. But, at the end of the day, it’s hurting your bottom line,” says Britt.


Besides, there are SO many ways to provide excellent service without cutting into your paycheck:

  • Offer a head and shoulder massage 
  • Include complimentary alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks and snacks
  • Give out small product samples (which also helps build retail sales)
  • Offer a hot towel treatment while clients process 
  • Create a customized haircare routine suited for each client


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Photo Credit: Instagram via @thethrivingstylist


3. Under Promise and Over Deliver:

“We have all done it,” says Gina. “Made the promise thinking we are superheroes, without knowing EXACT hair history or without having enough time booked.” Her biggest advice for stylists is to under promise—even if you know the hair and know that you can create the look, give yourself a little breathing room!


4. Be Transparent With Pricing:

“How many of you don’t list your prices on your website because you’re worried it’ll scare clients off?” asks Britt. If your prices are accurate to your location, expertise, experience and the quality of services you provide, do not fret: Listing your prices will ensure the clientele you are attracting is happy to pay your price.


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