Last summer, Gina Bianca broke the internet with an Instagram post. The image, a before and after, had the service price clearly and boldly overlayed onto the bottom. The corresponding caption outlined every element of the final price: extra bowls of lightener needed for the client’s thick hair, two extra bowls of gloss, the root smudge, bond builder, hair cut, styling finish and so on.
The post went viral throughout the hairdressing community, however the comments became so “aggressive” that Bianca had to disable them.
“The response to the viral post was very mixed,” she says. “A lot of it was negative from stylists who weren’t charging what they should be or didn’t have the confidence to do so. And some came from stylists who had a moment of realization that they were undercharging, and that’s why they couldn’t pay their bills.”
But this post gave Bianca a moment of realization: Why was pricing transparency such a polarizing topic? Why aren’t more beauty professionals willing to post exactly what they charge a client and why on their feed?
Bianca owns her namesake salon, Gina Bianca Hair, in Plantsville, Connecticut. For artists inspired to
get transparent about their pricing, Bianca says to first make sure to dial in your pricing. That means knowing what one minute costs you or the salon. Bianca bases pricing on cost per hour.
“In my salon, we price all services based on time standards,” Bianca says. “Yes, we have standards for how quickly each service needs to be applied. Why? Consistency for our customers and providing a great guest experience!”
The most important part of the service is a clear, in-depth consultation. It has to be strong, and it has to be backed up with education.
The consultation is the time you and your client have the conversation about exactly what they envision, and your plan of attack. Once you know your pricing, you can dissect any image thrown your way and know exactly how you will get the client’s starting point to that end result, and that includes the cost.
When you know your pricing based off time, you can tell clients how long they’ll need to be in your chair, and how many sessions it will take. Bianca says clients will say they don’t want to wait that many sessions or sit in the chair that long, so she’ll work with them to find another photo that is more in their time range and their budget.
“Anything is possible with time, trust and money,” Bianca says. “If the client doesn’t understand that, I invite them to get another opinion. I tell them I’ll always be there for them, but based on their goal and their reality, I don’t know if I’ll be able to make them happy that day.”
Bianca says the worst thing you can do for retention is sticker shock. Client retention is one of the biggest factors in growing your business.
“Sticker shock will run your business into the ground, and undercharging will drain your soul of appreciation and cause resentment to build over time” Bianca says. “Are our pricing systems dialed in? Does every guest feel like your services are worth the financial and time investment?”
You need to be strategic to take the leap into transparency on your social media channels, as well. Step one, Bianca stresses, is to be confident, educated and sure about your pricing. Then, before creating your own pricing breakdowns, she recommends to repost hers and see how they perform on your page. Thinking back to her initial pricing post, she says testing the waters with a time breakdown is a safer place to start, because it doesn’t get as aggressive in the comments. And, you’ll know the costs with your time-based pricing structure.
Bianca offers one-on-one coaching and classes to help get other stylists’ pricing on track. Follow her Instagram pages @the_hair_doctor and @iamginabianca for ongoing educational posts, including pricingand time breakdowns.