Business Education

How Freelancers Can Price Services Successfully | Lacey Hunter-Felton

April 18, 2024

With more than half of hairdressing professionals building self-employed businesses, pricing has become a significant differentiator for many. This month, LACEY HUNTER-FELTON, Co- founder of the Hunter Collective, shares her advice to help freelancers price services successfully in 2024.

Hunter Collective recently hosted an education day with an audience made up of 50% traditional salon owners and 50% freelancers.

We learnt that, when a classic salon owner’s column was full, they felt confident increasing their prices because they knew that clients would filter to lower price bands across the whole salon business. Even if they lost 15% of clients, they were likely to gain that back with new clients and, failing that, the higher prices would cover the cost of client loss. The freelancers in the room, on the other hand, said that because they didn’t have the perceived protection of a salon structure, their clients would know that the price increase had come directly from them and that made them feel uncomfortable.

So, here is my advice to those looking to change their pricing: Firstly, begin to track the demand for your services. If you’ve closed your books because you’re at capacity, you can test the water by opening a waiting list. If this proves popular, you know that your services are sought-after, presenting a great opportunity for a price increase to new clients which can slowly filter to existing clients. Alternatively, if you feel confident in putting your prices up across the board, you need to be prepared to potentially lose 10-15% of your current clientele, but just like traditional salons, the price increase will cover that initial shortfall.

Sometimes I feel we find ourselves over-explaining and justifying every detail of our business to please our clients. I think this can be a potential trap which all small businesses can fall into. Using the excuse of higher product costs and the rise of the cost of living to justify a price increase, for example.

While these things are still relevant, at Hunter Collective we aim to empower our freelancers in their rational, giving them the confidence to explain that their pricing reflects what their unique services have to offer. It’s the hours of education, quality services and premium products that back up a price increase. You will find that nine times out of ten, it’s only a small minority of clients that will question a price increase when prices are based on a fantastic experience.

There is also an ongoing conversation around sustainability options as a freelancer, i.e. how you manage waste costs and what this means for pricing. It can feel hard to communicate an extra charge based on your individual environmental consciousness, but it seems a growing number of clients are becoming environmentally aware, meaning they will embrace your choice to deliver a sustainably minded experience. A widely used term, ‘green fee’, has simplified the need for extensive explanation for these charges. In fact, they are already accepted in many services we use, from taxis to delivery companies. Remember, cost isn’t prohibitive if the client understands what they are contributing to. Ultimately, it’s all about effective communication.

Interestingly, these topics lead us to a deeper conversation which can often cause anxiety. I have spoken to hairdressers who feel insecure about showing their financial success through the new lifestyle they have created. In my mind, this speaks of imposter syndrome and fear of judgement. I believe the answer is about building your business profile. Focus on the elements of your business that highlight your pricing levels in a positive way; showcase your training, choice of product ranges and the happiness of your clients. If your brand presents as high quality, consumers will see this as a symbol of their own success, reputation and social status, making them more willing to pay higher prices. I hope these insights remove some concerns for anyone that is afraid to showcase the successful growth of their business.

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