What Does it Take to be a $100,000 a Year Hairdresser? – Career

Ready to up your game in the New Year?  Want to make more money?  Build a bigger clientele?

Well, here goes…

What does it take to be a $100,000 a year hairdresser?

Communication is EVERYTHING! 

 I have known, worked with, trained, mentored, and learned from lots of different kinds of hairdressers in my 40 years. There are always some who stand out. Their ability to build thriving clienteles in just a few months is amazing.  The most successful ones have one main thing in common…

 It’s not their talent and skill. Don’t get me wrong That is important. You absolutely need to participate in education and build skill. 

 It’s not their wardrobe. You can buy clothes at Walmart and still look well put together. Just buy all black and make sure they are wrinkle free and in good repair. Make sure your hair looks good. Obviously. 

 It’s not where they work. You can live in a small town or a major city center and still be just as successful in either. I live in a small town of less than 20,000 people. 

 It’s not how young or cool or beautiful they are. I am none of those things. I can create a full client book, months in advance, within 6-8 months of starting from scratch. 

The most successful, best earning, fully booked in advance, highest earning hairdressers I know are all masters at the art of communication.

Who’s to blame if a client is unhappy, you get a redo, it doesn’t turn out properly or they never come back? Your client retention rate is low? You have been working in the same place for years and still are not fully booked in advance?

Here’s the answer…and you’re not going to like it…

It’s time for someone to tell you the truth. It’s your fault. It’s always your fault. I know this sounds harsh, but hear me out. 

 Many of the questions I’m getting can be traced back to this important point. When a client isn’t 100% satisfied it is always your responsibility. 

 If you work for a salon it’s not their job to give you 5 new clients a day perpetually. It’s their job to provide you with a good work environment. Make sure the products you need to do your job are fully stocked. It’s their responsibility to pay you on time and treat you with fairness and respect. 

 If you are independent it not your location or lack of walk-ins to blame. 

 Building and retaining your clientele will always be your responsibility. Mastering the art communication is the best skill to develop to achieve a thriving clientele. 

Michelle Pargee

Michelle Pargee

Work on your consultation skills. 

Here is how mine goes…

  •  When you meet a salon guest for the first time you need to spend at least 15 minutes getting to know them. Their lifestyle. Their values. Their budget. Their commitment to maintenance. Their hair goals. What they currently DO NOT like about their hair. Everyone can tell you what they don’t like, even when they don’t really know what they want. 

  • I like to ask new guests what does the hair of their dreams look like. I need to know what they fantasize looking like. Be sure, everything you do to their hair will be compared to that. I like pictures. That tells me what they are visualizing. That way I can let them know if it’s possible.  

  •  Once you know these things it’s YOUR job as the professional to communicate what is possible and realistic and what isn’t. If it is doable, what and how long would it take to get there and finally, how much that journey and maintenance will cost. 

 If you aren’t quoting price you will not retain clients. Full disclosure always. Stop being afraid to talk about your prices.

We are so afraid to quote prices. I think its because we have a hard time believing in our own worth. It feels uncomfortable to say it out loud. I see too many hairdressers not quote a price, then, after they are done, be afraid to tell them how much it is and reduce the charge at the desk because they are anxious that the client will complain. Let’s get over that. You are worth what you charge. Ok? 

 It’s not your job to watch your client’s budget.

What Does it Take to be a $100,000 a Year Hairdresser?

It’s theirs. That same client you are afraid to quote $300 to, will go to the mall after they leave your chair and pay $300 for boots they will hardly wear. 

 Quoting a price gives them the opportunity to let you know that’s outside their budget. Which is totally ok. However, this isn’t where you offer a deal or discount. This is where you reduce the service to match what they can afford to pay and maintain. Explain to them what you can do within their financial means. Perhaps it face framing foils instead of full foils? Perhaps it’s not the full head of unicorn hair, but instead a few perfectly placed panels of fun color? Maybe they can’t afford a full platinum card and instead can have an ombré that doesn’t need to come in for roots every 4-6 weeks. 

 This level of communication and honesty will save you awkward moments at check out. Prevent clients from having buyers remorse. Eliminate demands for refunds and prevent clients who just don’t ever come back. If it’s really really difficult for you, or you never talked prices before, print off a price list. Laminate it. Keep it on your station. Pick it up and hand it to your guest to ask them which services they want. Use it to start the conversation. Don’t hand it to them and be silent. 

 Once you establish the price and service they will have, it’s time to explain what is doable and what isn’t. Never be afraid to say “I can do that but your hair won’t let me at this time.”  Don’t try to make things happen when it’s not possible. NEVER do anything that will further damage already damaged hair. Ever. Let them know their hair’s health is your main priority. That getting their hair healthy will open the door to the hair of their dreams. Then, explain to them the products they need to use and what you can do while their hair slowly gets better. I will often tell a new salon guest that they are a year away from their dream hair, but I WILL get them there. Slowly. Each visit they will be a little closer. 

They will respect your honesty and your knowledge and experience. 

 Perhaps it’s a color correction and will require a few visits over weeks or months. Perhaps it needs to grow to get the look they actually really want. Whatever the reason, be honest. Under promise, then blow their mind when you over deliver. They will trust you forever. You will become their hair god! 

Established Guests

 When an established guest comes back for a maintenance visit, if you are mixing the colour when you see them parking, you are doing it all wrong. 

 Always do a 5 minute consult with each visit. Every time. See how they liked the last service. Find out what they didn’t like. Your job is to find out what the problems are and offer solutions. Make the necessary adjustments to formulation or product recommendations. Explain to them what you can do to make it even better. Always be striving to improve their hair. 

 The number one reason clients will leave you for another stylist is because you stopped trying to please them like you did the first visit. You stopped offering them change. Listening to them. Make sure they are thrilled with their hair and feel beautiful. 

 It’s summer? Ask if they want to brighten their hair. It’s fall or winter? Ask if they want to add depth, dimension or a gloss to make it shiny and party ready for the holiday season. 

 Perhaps your blonde wants to play with a fun pastel tone?  You can do that with something temporary to try on. Never let your clients feel bored or that you are a one trick pony. 

 Once you begin their service, all conversation should be positive, more about them than you, professional and uplifting. Of course we become close to our salon guests and sometime those relationships bring on personal and deep conversations. I get it. I’m an open book myself and have always connected with my clients in a very real way. Just make sure you make the focus be more about them. Don’t “dump” your problems on them. Be inspiring. 

They need to walk out feeling valued, beautiful and happy! 

 End each visit with product recommendations necessary to maintain the beautiful hair you gave them. They need to keep it looking at home the way you made it look in the salon. Ask them if they would like to pre-book to guarantee their preferred appointment time for their next visit. Thank them for coming to see you. If you are not fully booked months ahead, tell them you loved making them beautiful and would love the referrals of their friends and family. 

When your guest walks out they should feel beautiful and valued. YOU are the person who makes them feel that way. You are magic. ❤️

Next up…

My next blog will focus on expanding on the 5 year plan to reaching your career goals. I’ll break it down to steps, goals and timeline. 

5 years sounds like a long time? Guess what… That time will pass anyways. If you do nothing it will pass and you will have wasted it.

It’s never too late to start. 

Michelle Pargee

Hair Artist/Educator/Mentor


Upcoming future blogs:

  • How to become an educator and/or platform artist 
  • How much and how to best spend your education dollars. 
  • How to plan and execute a successful photoshoot 
  • Independent vs Salon Team: When to choose which. 
  • Building a thriving and successful salon. 
  • Color Corrections. You don’t need to be scared. 


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