Should I offer nail service discounts? Marie-Louise Coster explores

By Marie-Louise Coster | 24 November 2023 | Business, Expert Advice, Feature

Marie Louise Coster Discounts

In this column, session nail stylist, salon owner & educator, Marie-Louise Coster, talks discounts, their effects and knowing the worth of your services…

Christmas is around the corner and your columns, if not already full, will be filling up fast. The festive season may be slower getting started for you this year. We are in a cost of living crisis, where everything has become more expensive and people are having to tighten their belts. It is to be expected; we are recovering from a global pandemic, but if the essentials have become more expensive, where does this leave non-essentials like beauty services – especially in January, which is naturally a quieter time? 

I have seen lots of nail and beauty professionals responding to the current crisis by reducing prices and offering huge discounts and flash sales, in a bid to get clients through the door. I completely understand why many are taking this approach, but is that the best response?

Everyone loves a bargain, but what kind of message does this send to clients? What are the financial effects, and what is the impact on your brand? 

Let’s take a £30 gel polish manicure. You are looking at around an hour’s work, with removal. Most businesses don’t charge for removal if re-applying gel polish. Assuming you are working an eight-hour day, with a lunch break, you could potentially carry out seven gel polish manicures. This equates to £210. Not bad?

Out of this comes product costs, which are going to be around £8, so that is £56 deducted. Then there’s the cost of rent, cleaning, laundry, electricity, insurance and so on, which will easily come to £35 or more. If you employ staff to carry out services, that’s at least £77 and if you don’t employ staff, you still need to pay yourself a minimum wage. Your profit is going to be around £34. This is all before discounting the treatment.

If you reduce the cost of the service by £5, you will be losing £1 for your day’s work and if you discount it even further, the deficit will be more. It’s easy to get into a cycle where the losses become greater, because clients expect discounts. Unfortunately, that is not a successful or sustainable business model and can attract disloyal clients who float from deal to deal. These clients are also not likely to invest in themselves monthly and have the disposable income your ideal client does. If you wrote down what your perfect client looked like (and I urge you to, so that you know exactly who you are trying to attract and can determine a model to do this), they would not be it. 

Discounts can also send the message that you are desperate and your services aren’t worth more than your discounted price, devaluing your years of study, experience, skill and the quality of your product. Your columns don’t need to be full all day every day; quality is more important than quantity.

Concentrate on attracting the right type of client, and offer them an upgrade of their usual service rather than a discount.

For instance, you could include a hand/arm or foot/leg massage, heated mitts or boots, an exfoliation and mask, or perhaps a winter warmer package with heated mitts/boots and a hot chocolate, offering value for money. 

We all want to be busy and successful, but true success does not come from devaluing your skills, knowledge and services. Promotions that are used wisely, cover your costs and provide you with a profit can be great – but avoid extreme deals.

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