How to charge your worth as a nail tech

By Marie-Louise Coster | 25 October 2023 | Business, Expert Advice, Feature

Charging Worth

Session nail stylist, salon owner & educator, Marie-Louise Coster, shares her top tips…

Stop basing your treatment prices on what others are charging, or charging nominal prices to keep yourself busy. Yes, you will attract clients, but if you work out what it has cost you to provide your services, compared to the money you have taken, you might realise that you’re not even earning minimum wage. You won’t be able to increase your pricing at the rate required to cover your costs, let alone make a profit. You will also only ever attract a certain type of client: the type that doesn’t value your skill and knowledge, and the type that a long-standing business is not based on.

You are better carrying out less treatments for a higher price, than you are doing more for a lower price. The people who value your offerings will pay for them, and those who don’t will go somewhere better suited to them.

How to charge what you are worth

When deciding on your prices, the first thing you need to do is disregard what other pros are charging. It’s not relevant; their product costs, overheads and experience are different to yours, so don’t compare.

Here is a straightforward process to structuring your prices:

1. Calculate your treatment costs

Work out how much each treatment is costing you. Your suppliers can usually help you with this, but remember to include all of your costs, not just product. For example, with a gel polish service, does your calculation include the cost of removal?  You will also need to factor in the cost of consumables and overheads, such as heating, electricity, rent, insurance, laundry and uniform.

2. Work out your hourly rate

How much do you want to earn per hour? Your pricing needs to cover your costs and pay you a wage. When considering what you want to earn, do not devalue your skill, technique and experience. There will be an amount you need to earn in order to live, but there is also an amount you should charge for other factors, including your level of training, experience, skill and knowledge; your ongoing training and dedication, and your surroundings.

3. Ask yourself: what is your USP?

This is a hard one, because most people don’t like shouting about themselves. My accountant goes crazy at me, because she thinks I should promote my skills and experience more. Of course she is right, but talking about myself is not something I am comfortable with – but if I don’t, who will? It is becoming more difficult to stand out from the crowd without shouting about yourself, so it is something we all need to get comfortable with.

Therefore, I want you to consider your USP: what makes you different to everyone else in your area? I have a home salon, and when I opened this, I was considered less professional by many. The reality is quite the opposite. My business runs from my extension, so no one enters my house or hears any noise from it. I charge the most in my area, because no one else has my level of knowledge, skill and experience. These factors are valuable; they are my USP and they come at a cost.

4. Ensure your set-up is professional

If you don’t appear to be taking what you do seriously, neither will anyone else. You need to create a professional set-up and have a designated room for treatments. If you are expecting clients to walk through your house and potentially past family members, you aren’t creating a luxurious and professional experience and are massively devaluing your business. Your client is coming to you for a pamper, away from the stresses and strains of their life.

Next steps

After you have carried out the steps above and have a provisional price for each of your services, you can compare your prices to competitors. Don’t compare your prices with everyone in your area, because there will be businesses offering all levels of nail services; just compare your prices with the salons or therapists that are most like you. Your prices should be reasonably similar.

Once you have decided on your prices, it is important to review them at least annually or when costs go up, for example product, rent and consumables, so your profit isn’t affected. If prices don’t go up for you, they don’t need to go up for your clients, but I think an annual price increase is largely expected.

Most importantly, do not devalue yourself or ever feel like you have to justify why you charge what you do.

Chanel don’t explain why they charge more than New Look. There is a reason for your pricing and the clients you want to attract will understand that. So, charge what you are worth and do it proudly – you have worked hard to get here.


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