salon secrets

Hairdressers: Should You Bill by The Hour?

September 5th 2017

Low-cost quick cuts, mixed pricing… Salons are adapting to changing ways of working by trying to offer the fairest prices in line with the service offered and individual needs. Thus, they are on the lookout for new ways of setting out their pricing grids. Some hairdressers have decided to set their prices in line with the time spent with the client. Taking this step goes hand in hand with a certain philosophy of service: here’s how it works.

Why Bill By The Hour?

The Chapel, Reed Hair and Matthew Luke in the UK, Vetiver and Younghee in the United States… These salons have all decided to apply an hourly rate rather than a service-based fee. This decision is often motivated by a pessimistic observation. Director of Reed Hair, Vicki Meredith, opened the salon in 2007. A victim of her own success, she realized that her timetable was chock-full and that her hairdressers were “too busy to give the service they wanted to give”. For her part, Amanda Dicker, creator of the four The Chapel salons, introduced an hourly rate in 1997.What actually inspired me was the amount of women who would share their negative hairdressing experiences. They always mentioned the confusing price systems and service menus. For example, without the education from a stylist and not understanding hair jargon, it would give the anxiety of expecting to spend a lot of money but by the end of being sat in the chair, one could walk away with multiple additional costs.”

Amanda dicker salon The Chapel à Tunbridge Wells@www
Amanda Dicker in her salon The Chapel in Tunbridge Wells – Credit: The Chapel

Optimally Adapting To Individual Needs

Billing by the hour allows the hairdresser to optimally adapt to individual needs. “If someone is in transition of growing their hair out, they basically need a quick clean-up before their next look. I book this type of service for 30 minutes,” explains Kim from New York’s Younghee salon. By contrast, certain styles may require more time due to the density, length or texture of the hair, or to the complexity of the cut. Those looking for a totally new look appreciate an in-depth consultation and personalized treatment with a hair expert or facial analyst. By offering time-based rates, the Matthew Luke salons ensure your time spent in the salon is tailored to you because your hair is unique”.

The Chapel Salon Switzerland
The Chapel Salon in Verbier, Switzerland – Credits: The Chapel

Personalized & High-end Service

The goal of these salons? The client’s time and money are precious, so it is a question of offering them an experience in line with their expectations. Amanda Dicker explains that her clients are mainly “people who are searching to be listened to, inspired, educated, given choices and appreciate switching off from responsibilities and being looked after. A benefit for the guest that comes from pricing by time is actually time itself. We respect their time”.

The Chapel salon in Verbier, Switzerland.
Le salon Chapel à Verbier, Switzerland. Crédit: The Chapel

These salons offer a consultation that precisely reveals the personality, lifestyle, desires and any intolerances of the client so as to envisage the ideal service for her together.  The days of copy and pasting the latest star’s cut are over. We are talking about a genuine personalized consultation session.

Charlotte tried her luck at Reed Hair and talks about her satisfaction on the site Layered :

“My stylist was with me the whole time from start to finish. I think it made it a much more personal and friendly service, and the salon had a much calmer atmosphere than others I’ve been to.”

How Much Does It Cost?

In the United States, the average fixed rate for a wash-cut-blowdry is around $44 (€37). If we consider that this service lasts about an hour, the equivalent at Vetiver would cost $85 (€71), £50 (€54) at Reed Hair, and between £50 and £100 (€109) at The Chapel salons. Though admittedly more expensive, the service offered is all-inclusive and often includes care products and advice on at-home maintenance and quality products, in addition to the personalized consultation and expertise.

The Chapel Islington salon 2@www
The Chapel salon in Islington. Credit: The Chapel

Transparency & Trust

For those women and men who are a little confused by all this and would rather pay for their cut at the rate advertised, Amanda Dicker explains that the time taken for and thus the cost of each service is set with the client before starting. So there are no nasty surprises at the check-out. Kim Younghee even takes care to confirm everything (time, client expectations and price) by email before the appointment. For those worried that the hairdresser will deliberately take their time to make the service last longer, these hairdressers emphasize the need to build a relationship of trust with their clients.

The Chapel Tunbridgewells salon 5@www
The Chapel salon in Tunbridgewells. Credit: The Chapel

A Profitable Service For The Salon

This pricing system is also favorable for the salons. Stylists all over the world hate being unable to dedicate the proper time to a customer’s needs, juggling four customers at once, taking bills, making appointments, all while coloring and blow-drying hair. So we have happier stylists too,” explains Amanda Dicker, who sees nothing but advantages in this method. Indeed, it allows her to gain her clients’ trust as well as that of her employees, thus avoiding staff turnover and associated training costs, as well as offering the best wages and working conditions.

The reason why we are proud is because we are creatively-driven, not target-driven,” she concludes.