When COVID hit, Joy La May, a stylist, and parent of two young children, said to her husband, “We’ve got this.” The young family had already been through so much in recent years—car accidents, strokes—that La May says she knew they could hunker down and ride the wave that is 2020.
She also knew she was in a good place, professionally, because she had revamped her business in the past few years. She had tapped into coaching that had transformed her career.
“I started listening to the ‘Destroy the Hairdresser’ podcast in 2018,” May explains. “I was at a point in my career where I could say, yes, I’m a stylist and I work for a big color company and I love to teach, but now what? I was feeling like I was not quite where I wanted to be. I thought I was on a ladder, but I was on a wheel. I was repeating the same patterns.”
The coaching she received started to change her business and her life. Eventually, she was asked to join the team of coaches.
“Even though I love doing hair and that is my passion and creative outlet, I realize that my calling in life is to be in service to other hairdresser. And part of that is talking to them about establishing new processes, and new boundaries, like pricing per hour instead of per service.
“It can feel like a revolutionary act but when we crunch the numbers, we see that some of us are getting paid below minimum wage, and that is what is going to keep hairdressers from staying in this industry for the long haul,” La May says. “They work themselves to the bone, they’re exhausted, and they can’t be financially stable.”
Setting New Pricing and Healthy Boundaries
Pushback on a discussion around changing pricing doesn't come from the clients, La May says.
“Every client I talk to almost always responds with a sense of relief. They don’t understand all the processes or names of services, but they do understand time. It helps keep the client on a budget and it also helps with us being really transparent.”
It is, instead, the stylist who is nervous about making this update.
“We don't want to talk about money so we get up to the front desk for clients to pay and they get sticker shock. Then, we have to explain, well, I mixed up four bowls of lightener, etc. Pricing by the hour, everyone knows what the plan is based on time. It’s so much less anxiety.”
Here, La May answers some questions about how to transition your pricing structure:
MODERN SALON: Why should I use an hourly rate instead of charging per service?
JOY LA MAY: Hourly pricing is a game changer and we at ‘Destroy the Hairdresser’ are huge believers in it. We believe it elevates our industry by bringing the focus to paying for the stylist’s time and expertise, and not equating it with the service. We all have those clients who take us 2x as long as someone else. Hourly pricing begins to equalize everyone as clients pay for an all inclusive service based on time. Clients get confused when we say “Toner” “root smudge” “Shadow Root” “gloss”…. How about we just say “I’m gonna take care of everything and make your hair beautiful for you. Clients know time, they don’t know all of our language.
MODERN SALON: I can’t double-book so I’ve lost income. How can I make it up?
JOY LA MAY: Raise your prices. If you were so busy that you have to double book, you need to raise your prices. You are in demand! Clients who value you will continue to pay your prices without hesitation.
MODERN SALON: I have potential clients who seem interested in coming to see me but then they see my rates and they don’t book.
JOY LA MAY: There are a few things to say about this: First, we need to check our mindset. Are we fearing “lack” and therefore see these as potential lost clients creating the urge to discount and/or make a deal? If this fear of lack is driving you to discount your worth, you need to work on that. Second, make sure that your quality of service is on par with what you are charging. When you are delivering an amazing client experience, that needs to equate to what you are being paid. Lastly, see if you are indeed overpriced. Working with a coach (shameless plug) is a vital way to ensure that you are priced well and growing.
MODERN SALON: What should I do with pricing? Raise my prices? And if I do, how do I let my guests know?
JOY LA MAY: I love being in contact with my clients through Instagram and through email. When I raise my prices I let them know through an email, and also reiterate it to them during their online booking. “Coming up on Oct 1st my new hourly rate will be…."
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.