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Last updated: February 05, 2018

What Would You Do: Losing Money On A Service

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We’ve all been there: the client who takes forever and never tips. What makes it more complicated? A price cap on salon services imposed by the owner. Do you keep the client and hope things will improve—or drop her? Here’s what the BTC community had to say!

I work in a commission-based salon and I have a client who comes in regularly for a shampoo blowout and silk press. I charge her the most my salon will allow me, which is $57. It takes me 2 to 2½ hours due to the amount of hair she has plus she is super tender-headed. She never tips me, and I am almost losing money doing her hair because of how long it takes. I don’t know what to do, because I do like her and she’s a regular. But she is costing me money…Do I refuse to do her hair?

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Have A Conversation
Many of you were shocked that a salon owner wouldn’t allow higher prices. “I can’t believe your commission-based salon has a price cap on any service,” said @julieacosta_rch. “You are on commission and they also lose money if you aren’t charging for your full time. Talk to management. And if that doesn’t work, move on.”

Adds @nestle.snipes, “Management putting a cap on any service inhibits your growth and theirs. That place probably won’t continue to grow.”

The most common advice was to definitely speak to the owner. “It’s not in the best interest of the salon to allow you to continue doing this person’s hair for this type of money,” said @prettylittleombre. “I would sit down with the owner/management and try to present it that way to them. If it’s affecting their bottom line, they may be more willing to listen and adjust accordingly.”

And @maryyemmaa said, “Management wants you to do well—special circumstances require special pricing!”

Others suggest considering whether this is the only issue you have at your salon. “If it is, and you’re otherwise doing well, you may want to roll with it,” says @candigirl912. “If there are additional concerns that outweigh our income and happiness at work, you may want to consider that as well. A client is never required to tip you (and may not be able to afford it) and your salon can set whatever prices it wants.”

Talk To The Client
When you decide to raise your price, talk to the client. “Don’t refuse to do her hair, but explain the complications to her about why it’s more work for you to do her hair,” suggested @alyssapayos. “Or start scheduling her on a day that isn’t your busiest so you are still able to make the money you need.”

“Tell her that in the next month or two, the price will be increasing by $10 to $20 and you hope she can still come to you, and see what she says,” said Katie Rubinstien on Facebook. “If she freaks, then give her some kind of coupon for the first month or so, then go ahead and raise the price.” Or another way to raise the price, suggested by Melissa Murphy on Facebook: “Add an “extra length” fee.” Another great idea from @candigirl912—discuss a referral program. “Five new clients from her and she gets a free service,” she said.

Linnea Brown weighed in on Facebook and suggested that as an experienced stylist, you make sure you’re happy with your clients. “It’s OK to have these people starting out, but if you want to stay where you are, you have to set some ground rules,” she said. “Cherry-pick and weed out people that cause stress. It is about money, but at the end of the day, you want to be happy and successful where you are.”

And for Natalie Enze, it’s all about educating yourself and then educating the client. “Personally push yourself to learn products and treatments,” she said. “If you can’t charge her for extra length, then explain to the client why it’s important to have an Olaplex treatment. Or say, ‘Let’s add a few natural, peek-a-boo accent highlights to give you some color.’ Or explain to her that you have a straightening system that you are certified in and can save her time and money in the long run, which you recommend to prevent further damage to her hair. She can still get her shampoos, but you upsold her on a straightening treatment that will save her time and money and add more money to your paycheck. Then you’ll cut down on your 2½ hours weekly and have time for other clients.

Some real talk from @hairbyashmo: “A full color client could be in that spot and making it worth your time. And she doesn’t tip?! Oh, hell no. I have a woman who comes in every week, stopped tipping me and complained about my pricing 24/7. I tell these people there are a million other stylists in the world. Goodbye! Time and good service is money. You have to make a living too!

Figure Out A Speedier Option
A couple people suggested that the stylist try some new techniques to speed up the appointment time. “You could use rollers under the dryer to cut that moisture out for yourself, and it would be less tension for her as well,” said @alyssapayos. And Charlene Young Farruggio suggested on Facebook, “Experiment with different products to speed up drying time and flat ironing time!”

And maybe take a look at whether or not you just need to get faster. “That’s an extremely long time to take with that service,” said Tiffany M. Brown on Facebook. “I’d say work on your time or refer her to someone else.”