There are so many service industry professionals that struggle with what I call “emotional discounting”.

By emotional discounting, I’m not talking about creating a strategy to attract new business. It doesn’t mean you can’t offer a new guest promotion if you are less than 85% booked in your business. (You should do that!)

What I’m talking about is when Anna sits in your chair and tells you she can’t afford her color to service, and your gut response is to say, “It’s OK, Anna! I’ll do it for $50 less today!” You do it because you don’t want to lose her. And because you feel bad that she can’t afford you.

The guilt factor plays more of a role in our business than we often admit, especially if you’re just starting out or if you’re worried about keeping your books full. We’ve all struggled with imposter syndrome at some point. I felt just like this when I opened my salon. But I had to make some changes when I saw how much money I was losing and when I became more confident in myself as an owner.  Once you feel confident in yourself and the value you add to their guest experience, I promise you this: You will no longer feel tempted to discount your service. 

Breaking free from emotional discounting also has a lot to do with understanding how to have the right conversation during consultations with your guests. No one likes a confrontation, and so when someone says “I need a discount”, it can often feel easier to just agree and move past the awkwardness. But rather than jumping down the rabbit hole of discounting yourself and your talent, there are opportunities to offer alternative options.

More on that in a second, but first, here are the two reasons most of us wind up in the emotional discount trap.

Why We Emotionally Discount

1. Fear

Fear is the one thing that will hold you back from greatness. It will keep you idle in your career. It’s hard to manage when all the “what if”s creep in.

She won’t come back. She won’t stay. She will get upset. She won’t send referrals.

Can you relate?

I say this often because I know it’s true: Your mindset determines the outcome of your business.

So making a small shift in your thinking can make conversations about pricing significantly easier.

The next time you catch yourself, try to flip the thought. Go from “She won’t come back.” to “She will come back because I know I add value to her salon experience.”

It honestly takes a lot of work to train your brain to do and say the opposite of what it’s telling you. But it’s like training your muscles to get stronger when you start going to the gym. In this case, you are training your mind to switch out those negative thoughts to those positive thoughts. It takes time and does not happen overnight.

It might feel like it’s not working at first, but it will. And one day you’ll realize that you’re not second-guessing yourself in conversations with clients. I am telling you! This can be a game-changer for you and just about half the battle in our industry.

2. Self-Doubt

This can be a tough one for so many of us. Constantly comparing yourself or your work to others can really bring you down. You start to look at everyone else around you and compare where you are in your career. How much money you are making compared to the stylist next to you. Then those negative thoughts start pouring in.

I’m not good enough. I’m not talented enough. That stylist is so much better than me.

Listen up, my beautiful friends. YOU are good enough! YOU are talented. But you have to believe it for yourself in order to turn that self-doubt into self-confidence.

Education, experience, and self-work will help you with this. One great way to work on this is to find a mentor — someone who can guide you and teach you along the way, who you respect and admire and (eventually) want to be like someday.

Working with them will really help build your confidence because most mentors will see things in you that you don’t see in yourself (yet). They encourage you. They hold you accountable. They give you the push you need to start believing in yourself not only behind the chair but in life in general. 

How to Break from the Emotional Discount Cycle

The more you work on cutting down on fear and self-doubt in your life, the more resilience you will have during tough conversations. You will know what you’re worth, and so you will ask for it. As you’re working on building that confidence, though, try this exercise:

  1. Write down and practice a response for the next person who tells you he or she can’t afford your service. Explain graciously that you’re charging for your talent.
  2. Practice saying “no”. The more you practice it, even in front of the mirror, the more it will come naturally to you when you need it most.