Approaching the inevitable price increase and realising your worth

As salons finally open their doors after a long and hairy 3 months, the planning and preparation involved has been a huge undertaking for many, and it comes with a cost.  A subject that has been discussed heavily is that of price increases.  It was debated early on in the lockdown as hairdressers started to realise their worth.  With clients saying how much they missed and needed their regular appointments.  Now, with the additional costs of PPE and for many, extended opening hours, it is not feasible to open without putting prices up to cover these additional overheads.

The most disheartening thing to see is the number of people receiving angry and rude messages from clients.  Suggesting that this price increase is due to greed, or an attempt to make up for the losses of the last few months.  You know this is not the case at all, but let’s discuss this inevitable price increase, how to approach it, and how to take this time to realise your worth.

Letting go of the emotion

Hairdressers by nature are often quite selfless.  Working extra hours or stretching beyond their physical capabilities to accommodate desperate clients, and charging far less than they really should.  Unfortunately, a lot of the reason for this is fear of losing clients.  “But clients pay my wages.” I hear you cry.  As much as this is obviously true, the reality is, those who don’t value or respect you aren’t worth holding on to.

When I talk about letting go of emotion, I mean to stop apologising for having to increase your prices.  Given the current situation, prices need to increase for salons to be able to keep their doors open.  As you are very much aware, PPE is costly, longer opening hours to be able to split shifts and reduce the number of stylists in the salon means higher bills.  Social distancing means for many that every other chair is out of use.

A lot of people are trying to be as transparent as possible with clients in regards to this, but it is being met with some upset it would seem.  Honestly, it is not worth your time or energy to argue with a client over a few pounds.  Let them go. There, I said it.  If someone does not appreciate that your service is valuable to them, nor can they understand that your costs have risen during a global pandemic, how will they react when you increase your prices as you progress in your career?

Moving forward

We talk a lot about growth in the industry, about learning and progressing.  For many, this is one of the reasons they love the job as it allows this.  What is often forgotten, is that this translates into your work.  Education and progression don’t happen during Mrs Smith’s bi-weekly blow dry.  They happen in your own time.  So, you are using your own time and money to better your skills, which is something that directly benefits your clients.

Realistically, if you doubled your prices and lost half your clients, you’d still be making the same.  I’m a strong advocate for working harder, not smarter.  Not because I’m lazy, but because I feel the point of a career is that you grow and work to improve yourself so that you are more valuable.  And therefore, earn more money for your knowledge and skill set.  Put like that, it translates into any line of work.

You are going to encounter clients who do not wish to pay your prices, and that is okay.  They may not be able to afford it, or it simply may not be something that they consider valuable to them.  Everyone has different priorities.  The hardest challenge is accepting this for what it is and allowing yourself to let those people go.

Realising your value

Realising your worth as a hairdresser is very important.  Across the world, salons have been closed for long periods.  Because of this people are becoming rapidly aware of how much they rely on them.  Hairdressing has always carried a certain stigma.  Deemed uneducated and often undervalued, if there’s one thing this pandemic has done for hairdressers, it’s brought them into the limelight.

Now is the time to put your foot down and get rid of the superfluous.  You may lose some clients during the opening weeks, but as I’ve said, they are not worth your time.  Don’t allow a few people to hold you back.  But don’t feel forced to explain yourself to anyone.  You wouldn’t call Hovis and tell them they are paying their staff too much because bread has gone up 5p.  So why can you tell your hairdresser they are charging too much?

 

Blog by Amy Senior – The Hair Bones

Coronavirus sick pay for the self-employed

Being self-employed comes with many benefits, but unfortunately it has its flaws.  The main one being the worry of getting sick.  Being self-employed, you are not entitled to statutory sick pay.  Which is all fine and well if you’re healthy, but given the current situation it is a huge concern for many.  The World Health Organisation has now declared the novel coronavirus disease a pandemic.  This is concerning for many for various reasons, and given the modern day of the internet, a lot of conflicting information is being spread.  This will help you understand how to get sick pay as a self-employed person.

The World Health Organisation’s guidance on what to do if you have symptoms of the coronavirus is to stay at home (also being referred to as ‘self-isolation’) for 7 days from when your symptoms started.  Gov.uk states “After 7 days, if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, you can return to your normal routine. If you have not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111.

Coughing may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.”

That’s all very straightforward if you are fortunate enough to be able to call your boss and tell them you won’t be in for 7 days and leave it to them.  Being self-employed, it means a scary loss of business and profit, and a lot of phone calls.  The government has addressed the issue of sick pay in the 2020 budget, and changes have been made to help those affected.  There are a few sick pay options available for the self-employed affected by coronavirus.

Universal credit

Universal credit was introduced in 2013 to replace several benefits and combine them into one.  It is, essentially, a payment to help with your living costs.  Normally to apply you will need to make an appointment at a Jobcentre, but given the current situation you are able to call the number you are given when you make the claim and explain the situation.  Jobcentre staff will be able to support you if you are required to stay at home.  Self-employed people affected by coronavirus and requiring sick pay can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a Jobcentre.  To apply visit the gov.uk website here.

Employment and support allowance

Employment support allowance – or ESA – is money for people who are unable to work due to sickness or disability, but are not entitled to statutory sick pay.  According to gov.uk, you can apply for this if you are under the state pension age and have a disability or illness that prevents you from being able to work.  Through this under 25s can claim up to £57.90 a week, and over 25s can claim up to £73.10.  There is usually a 7 day wait for new claimants, but this will not apply for self-employed people seeking sick pay due to coronavirus.  Therefore, it will be payable from the day you make the claim.  It is worth noting that while the form suggests you will need to make an appointment, this will not be possible if you are self-isolating, so again, explain your situation.  You will find the relevant forms here.  Note, you will also not be required to provide a doctor note, again this has been waived because of the coronavirus.

Insurance

Income protection insurance is part of your insurance policy that is designed to replace a portion of your monthly income should you be unable to work due to sickness or injury.  It falls under two categories; long term income protection, and short-term income protection.  In the case of being a self-employed person seeking sick pay due to the coronavirus, you would need to have short term income protection included in your policy.  This will have had to have been part of your policy prior to any self-isolation or illness.

Short term income protection insurance (STIP) will pay you an agreed monthly amount during a short period (usually 12 months).  It is designed to be available if you are unable to work due to accident, sickness, or even redundancy.  Depending on your plan you may have to wait a certain number of days before you receive any payments, but this varies from policy to policy, and is not always the case.

Some illnesses are not covered, but given that the coronavirus is a new illness, it will not be listed as not coverable.  Your insurer, however, may claim that it is not payable as it is not on the list of coverable illnesses for the same reason.  Read your policy thoroughly before contacting them.

The advice is changing daily as the virus continues to spread, but do pay regard to advice to self-isolate if necessary.  It is a very uncertain time for a lot of people, especially small business owners and the self-employed.  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has asked the PM for more financial protection “for all, including insecure, low paid and self-employed workers, during self-isolation and illness”.

Apply for any benefits or insurance claims as soon as possible, and know you are not alone in this situation.  It is a time to pull together more than ever, as there is a lot of uncertainty ahead.

Blog by Amy Senior – The Hair Bones

The consultation – why it is so important

Running a busy column doesn’t come without its challenges.  Hairdressing is a physically and emotionally demanding job, and maintaining a smile all day long can be exhausting.  The one part of a service we can never let slide is the consultation.  The consultation is the most important part of a salon visit.  We’ll go through why that is, and how to make sure you give the most thorough consultation possible.

Time

Time is always a problem. Ourselves and our clients lead busy lives.  Only allowing 45 minutes for a women’s cut and blow dry service does not give time for a consultation.  Realistically a consultation should take 10-15 minutes.  If you do not feel that you are allowing enough time for a thorough consultation, I strongly recommend you start doing so.

Prices

Extending your times by 15 minutes may seem like a lot, and may feel like it’s not cost effective.  This is certainly not the case.  You are able to charge accordingly for this extra time.  As hairdressers we can forget that our time is extremely valuable, and that is what we are charging people for.  That time sat down having a consultation is where we use our expertise to discuss what is suitable for a client, and take the time to understand what they want.  You will also find, in giving a thorough consultation you are less likely to have clients returning because they will always be happy with their hair.

Relationships

A successful hairdresser is one who builds a good relationship with their clients.  With this, they are able to come in and express what they want from you, and are not afraid to ask to make changes.  Client retention is a vital part of building a good column.  The consultation is so vital as this allows you to build the relationship with a client that will keep them coming back to you.  When you sit down and actually talk to them and listen, they are more likely to return to you directly if they have any problems with their hair.  The benefit of this is that you can fulfil the service, and avoid bad reviews.  After all, people are far more likely to tell friends about bad experiences than they are good ones.

How to give a thorough consultation

Now we’ve discussed the benefits, let’s look at how we can deliver a better consultation.  You may think you are already delivering this.  In fact, 100% of hairdressers feel they do a consultation with their guests.  However, only 7% of guests feel they have one.

Sit down

Often when hairdressers are portrayed on TV or film, they are stood behind a client, fluffing up their hair, asking “what are we doing today?”.  Please don’t do this.  It is intimidating.  Sitting down – more importantly sitting down face-to-face – with a guest, is much more comfortable for them.  If possible, make a space away from the mirrors in your salon where you can sit face to face with your guest.  If this is not possible, sit down beside them and turn their chair to face you.  Forcing eye contact will immediately help you break down any barriers.

Make sure you introduce yourself by name, and call them by theirs

The more you repeat their name, the more likely they are to remember yours.  If you work in a team of people this will benefit you in the future if they wish to rebook or leave a review.

Ask them how they are

I’m not trying to tell you how to have a conversation, but rather than simply going straight into their hair, try to have a general chat with them first.  Again, this will help break down some barriers and allow them to open up to you.

Read their body language

You can generally read someone by their body language as soon as you introduce yourself.  If someone is quiet and introverted, you may have to lean in closer and bring your voice down to their level.  If you have a more boisterous client, you will have to match them.  This is when our job becomes emotionally exhausting as we constantly have to match our moods to those we are working with, and do our best to bring them up.

Be confident

No matter how boisterous your client is, always stand your ground.  This can often be hard if you are a young hairdresser.  You need to be confident in your professional opinion.  I wish someone had told me this several years ago.  It can be hard if you are faced with a guest who is telling you with some very strong conviction exactly what they want when you know it’s not suitable.  Heck, sometimes it’s not even possible.  Social media is a blessing and a curse in this respect.  It can be so useful to get images and give clients a visual.  However, it can contain some very misleading images and create some very unrealistic expectations.

Manage expectations

Managing expectations is vital.  In a day and age where people are so used to being able to get what they want immediately; we are faced with a lot of frustration from guests not being aware of what is and isn’t possible.  A lot of the time this refers to colour, and the classic “I’ve been box dyeing my hair black, and I want it silver.”  This as we know is a serious challenge and can often take months and come with a huge bill.

When it comes to things like this, I often find it easier to sell myself short.  Not too much – enough so that they have confidence in my capabilities, but know that the end result may differ from the image they are showing me.  Be realistic in what you think is achievable, but always aim to deliver a bit more.  I always find quoting a bit more than it may actually be is a good safety net, or just make sure your client is aware of the cost of additional services they may require.

The rule of 3

This one is simple. Every 3 visits, ask them if they want a change.  I meet a lot of new clients who have left their old hairdresser because they got complacent.  Be sure to utilise your consultation time to actually discuss their hair.

Ultimately, communication and relationship building are key.  How you do it is up to you; these are just a few pointers to help you along the way.  In my opinion a salon visit is 80% about experience, and 20% about the haircut itself.  So, increase the time you spend giving that experience, and increase your pricing and profit accordingly.

Blog by Amy Senior – The Hair Bones

5 ways to beat your salon competition on Instagram

Over recent years, Instagram has grown into a powerhouse in terms of social media and what it can do for any business, in particular hair and beauty salons which operate in a deeply visual industry.

Growing your following and increasing your engagement is key, especially in relation to attracting new clients into your salon rather than your competitor down the road. But how can you make the difference and ensure that your social media brings people through your door? Read on for five tips based on the most up-to-date Instagram practices used by the most successful brands.

Consistency is key

Just like the hair that you create daily, consistency in your Instagram feed is equally important. You want to make sure you are showing your best work with flattering angles of your clients on a minimal background.

  • Try not to use photos of your clients in the chair. Stand your clients up and position them in front of a light-coloured wall with minimal distractions. You can also purchase a ring light at a small cost to enhance the quality of the lighting
  • Think about the finish of the hair before you take that ‘camera ready’ shot, your final image needs to look polished with hair you would be proud to wear yourself
  • Try and get your clients to smile! It makes all the difference!
  • Keep your personal life for your personal Instagram. Part of being consistent is keeping your feed focused on hair and not what you had for lunch!
  • Before and after pictures work very well as they show how skilful you are as a salon and potential clients love to see hair transformations

Use video

Video is one of the top performing mediums on both Instagram and Facebook so be sure to switch up your feed by mixing in video whenever you get a chance.

  • Videos are great especially short, snappy ones – Be creative with your videos, they might be your client running their fingers through their new hairstyle or it might be the stylist lifting up sections of the hair to show colour or a new haircut
  • Add slow-mo or time-lapse videos to show off your work and create a bit of theatre at the same time

Tag appropriately

Tagging brands that you use and magazines or publications you admire or want to be featured in will bring more views of your content. By tagging both photos and videos with relevant accounts you’ll get more eyes on your beautiful work. Aside from just tagging brands, be sure to hashtag as well. Hashtags are the easiest way to get more traction – It’s important to carry out research on relevant and local hashtags that may be more applicable to your salon. We recommend that you use the full quota of 30 hashtags which Instagram allows, but make a point of using some hashtags relevant to the actual image you are posting. When researching hashtags think about what potential new clients would search for if they wanted to find a new salon or a specific hair cut or colour.

Comment & Like

By commenting and liking fellow stylist’s and relevant publication’s work you’ll be able to create bonds within the Instagram community. Whenever you get the chance, spend time following, friending, liking and commenting on content relevant to your market. It is essential that you regularly look at your Instagram feed and interact with your followers and indeed who you are following.

Use Your Stories!

Instagram loves stories and so do your clients. Instagram stories have become one of the best ways to get your current audience and new eyes on your feed. These 15-second snaps can be about your process to get the perfect finish, about your go-to products or tips and tricks for your clients to use at home. Give your audience as many reasons as possible to follow you and engage with your work.

And finally…

There are a lot of powerful tips in this article, so please don’t get overwhelmed. Try one tip today and see how you get on, then build from there. If it’s all too much, HairUncut can help by managing your social media for you. This will ensure that your social media is on point, brings you new clients and, most importantly, frees you up to manage your salon. Get in touch for a no obligation chat and we promise to give you some great tips too!