Pricing Color Correction Services

Breaking down potential mistakes with color correction services.

Pricing Color Correction Services

Breaking down potential mistakes with color correction services.

Has this scenario happened to you?

Your client has a level 4 hair, when she booked the service she booked for a root retouch and some partial foils in between of a level 6 caramel. 20 mins before the appointment she texts a picture of a level 10 ashy balayage, with a level 7 ash as the base. You personally would love to do this on her so you say YES that’s amazing we should do that! On her way to you says great mix it up, like literally mix that bowl O lightener’ up!

You have booked three hours for original appointment. In your best intentions you think:

‘OK, well I can just lighten her up and tone her. I got this!’

A little rush of cortisol floods through your system.

When the client arrives you feel pressured to get all this lightener on because you know you are going to be overtime already. So you rush through the consultation, and in doing so you sabotage your outcome. Also the client is working online and taking phone calls all the while you are applying the foils. Then your client tells you shes going to be speaking in front of 500 clients of her own the next day. Talk about pressure! This better turn out.

When you finish 5 hours later you realize you could only get this hair today to a level 7,8 yellow-orange. You know one to two more sessions will be needed, this was ultimately a color correction which you didn’t prepare yourself or your client for. 😞

You led the client to believe they would walk out of the salon with that dream ashy balayage picture they showed you. Now you feel terrible and frustrated because your no idiot, you can read her body language you can see she’s not satisfied and you feel horrible about it because you just busted your ass for what seems to be like a mistake and not a progressive service. So what do you do?

Well if you’re anything like me and wanted to keep your client you probably didn’t charge them a color correction price, you probably didn’t even charge them even what you should have for a normal full foil, and let’s not even think about how much product you just used… And if you did charge a color correction price ohhhhh wow they are sticker shocked and they are leaving with what they perceive is terrible hair.

Even if they don’t show you how upset they are they definitely will to their friends and family. Where did it go wrong?

Really think about it.

This happened to me, I still cringe about it so here is where I went wrong: From the very moment when I answered the clients text message before they even stepped into the salon. I set the expectation because of my enthusiastic response. Now thats not to say we cant be enthusiastic about a future hair plan and goal but there-in lies the key; I should have used the few mins before the appointment when reading the text to visualize how I would direct my new client in today’s service and give them options.

Maybe that days service could have been the first step in the color correction, or maybe when having all facts; ie the fact they have a presentation in front of 500 people the next day and may not want copper hair, I could have directed them to have the original service they booked for, for that time. What would that look like in reality? How do you consult honestly and tactfully?

Lets visualize that: The client shows up, she’s a very busy woman, in fact she’s juggling her hair appointment and work at the same time. She asks you if you got her text.

“I did, I absolutely love that hair, and I think it would suit you well. I wanted to assess your hair today and discuss your service options with you before we decide what is the best option for you today and in the future.’

Begin consultation:

“Looking at your hair today I see that you are very dark and have a lot of preexisting color, may I ask how many times you have had this colored or processed? Did the previous stylist pull the color through the ends? Have you ever lightened this hair? Was it filled? Do you know if it was permanent or demi permanent color? Is gray coverage needed? How much time do you have for this appointment today? Are you willing to have this in-between hair color for a few days before your next appointment?”

Gather as much information about their hair as possible. Make sure you test the elasticity and porosity of the hair. I can’t encourage this enough WRITE IT DOWN! Keep on hand a picture of the stages of a color correction, this will really help set the expectations of a client. Seriously this will be a life saver.

Then with all that information excuse yourself for five minutes and evaluate and plan. Using phrases like “I’m going to step away for a few moments to review everything we just discussed today and put your hair history in your client card and we can discuss a couple of options. What would you like to drink today? We have Stumptown coffee, comforting tea, sparkling water, and a very nice red wine. ______ Great choice! I also have some new gossip and fashion magazines which would you prefer?___________.

Set your client up for a relaxing experience, and then step away. This way the client has time to ease into the service, it will melt away apprehension, concern, and build trust. By all means DO NOT leave your client without comforts, there is nothing worse than being left in front of a mirror while your stylist steps away. It just an opportunity for vulnerabilities and insecurities to creep in. Women especially will sit there and pick themselves apart. How many times have we heard a client point out a negative thing about themselves as soon as they sit down in front of a mirror? They may even ask for the cape to be put on sooner than needed. Even if they are drop dead gorgeous.

Don’t feel bad for stepping away, or even consulting with other stylists. Make a plan and be honest with yourself. If you evaluate that you can do the color correction today but it will impact the rest of your day make sure you price accordingly to all the adjustments you have to make to make it work.

If you have to reschedule or bump your next client make sure that your client in your chair who wants the service knows that their service will impact the next client and that you have to go an extra step to accommodate them and the next client and price accordingly for the extra time being worked, after all this was the clients request, they are the one who changed their appointment service.

Before promising anything check with the next client that this is for sure not an inconvenience to them. Sometimes the only option is to skip the service for that day because they or you don’t have time to fulfill the hair goal, don’t be afraid of telling the client that. They will appreciate your honesty, if you can tell that the client is severely disappointed take the opportunity to offer them a complimentary express add on service.

Depending on their responses you can say: “I know we don’t have time today for the hair service but I would love to set up a time that will accommodate your schedule and I would love to give you a complimentary relaxing hand and arm massage, aromatic scalp and shoulder massage or put some beachy waves in your hair before you leave today as thanks for you taking the time to come in today. Which of those speaks to you?”

This may seem like a waste of time since you know they are going to come back to you, but this will endear your clients more to you. And if this is a client you have to turn away entirely because their hair is too compromised still offer this as an option to them, they will come back to you!

“From the information gathered today about your hair history, and you upcoming event I would encourage you to keep the service you have today and let’s make a plan to get you there when we have more time scheduled. The following appointments I would estimate between $500-1000.”

They are asking for a hair service, you have to give them a serious number, that will definitely tell them how serious you are about getting it right, and it will determine if they are ready to make that investment and change, at cost to them, not you.

Why discuss the price at this point? First off they will now know the value of what they are asking compared to the service they are coming in for that day. And you won’t sticker shock your client when they do come in. Don’t undercut your work and income. Remember what you paid to learn this?

There is NOTHING worse than doing 8 hours of work and then another 4 hours of work and only charging $155 just because you didn’t set the expectation! This is the only way to insulate yourself from negativity and dissatisfaction with your art and effort.

How to price for color corrections

So let’s say you lay out the prices of each service. Give yourself a little room in this. First, set a base price and then a correction charge, and finally a per product bowl price (because let’s face it: this is one of the hardest things to do in our industry). Think about the hours of work and what you need to make per hour. Honestly, I don’t think you should do a color correction for under 100 dollars an hour. But, I know, baby steps.

Color corrections use a ton of product do not underestimate this. Keep track of how many portions of color and how many bowls you use. For instance Aveda has a standard of base price and $15 each additional bowl of product. This is reasonable. I charge $30 for my non toxic high performance O&M Clean Color. So I include 4 bowls of product in the color correction price, each additional bowl is $30. If I go over 6 hours it then goes to my hourly rate of $100 pr hour. I keep great notes during this process. My color corrections are 6 hour spots. I charge a minimum of $600, and I require that my clients not have anything they need to get to that same day, or any important events to attend. I will not be rushed, because this process has a high risk of going wrong.

I once had a 10 hour color correction, so after the hourly rate added in and extra bowls of color it was $1120. And to be honest that wasn’t even worth the amount of work and stress I went through. (I’m now thinking of stylists that do color correction for $150).

Follow this rule of thumb, anytime you are lifting or dropping more than three levels this is considered to be a color correction, there is so much room for error when lifting or dropping drastically, lifting may take additional toning, more foiling, drop out will take filling and it will fade drastically in a few weeks. Establish with the client that they will need to come back in two to three weeks for another service. I have a color waiver form I utilize as well, and a form I send to my clients to have all their information on file. (Comment bellow if you want to a copy.)

Now I actually charge for and require all color clients come in for a consultation before their color service. This is what insulates me from mistakes and being rushed it also helps me find my ideal client. Im determined to never have this happen again to me.

There’s hairstylists out there that have set the expectation for clients that great hair can be achieved in one service for a minimum price. This practice needs to be broken! It’s just not true! Set the right expectations from the start and you won’t want to hurl your body off a tall building in the middle of one.

Whitney Murphy
Educator, Salon Owner, BTC

Changing the industry through education and community. It’s more than hair, it’s people.