Recently, a fellow stylist posted a question in a Facebook group that caught my attention. This was the gist: Should stylist charge travel fees? How much should I charge to drive a few hours outside my hometown for a 15th or a wedding?
What happened next really grabbed my attention.
Within seconds (seriously, seconds) — How can people respond that fast anyways?
My fee is forty dollars!
I charge sixty!
A hundred is my max!
I don’t charge anything.
And our personal favorite…
You don’t charge anything?! You need to respect yourself! Your clients need to value you!
It didn’t surprise me that the numbers were all over the place. We expected that. Because Stylist have a different set of skill and experience levels, at different price points, from different parts of the country, in different life stages, with different financial needs are bound to charge different travel fees for an extra two hour drive.
That’s totally normal. That’s economics.
That’s also why i don’t have a standard “recommended” travel fee because it will be based on your talent and many other factors of WHY you charge and how much you charge.
You see, I am a big believer in understanding the why behind everything we do in our businesses. Why? is always where we start. You should be able to look at any area of our own life or business, ask us why we do it that way, and we should be able to give you an answer. If we can’t, something’s wrong.
So let’s chat about why you might charge travel fees in the first place so you can decide how much to charge — if anything at all. Because, at the end of the day, like anything else in business, it’s important to do what feels most comfortable for you and makes the most sense for your life and your business, instead of just doing what “everyone else” does.
To start, let’s take a look at the reasons Stylist/make up artist charge travel fees in the first place:
1. Traveling Costs Money
If you’re going to drive one hour for a hair style or make up that you could’ve done at your salon, at the very least, it’s going to cost you gas money, a drink or meal while you’re out you also have to think about the miles (round trip) of wear and tear on your car, So, you might charge a small travel fee just to cover those costs and account for those expenses. Of course, you can always carpool with your team, so that’s an option if you don’t mind carpooling. Personally, we prefer to drive separately, and always do, in case on an emergency.
2. Traveling Takes Time
The longer we’re in business, (heck!) the longer we’re alive, we realize that time is our most valuable asset, because there’s just never enough of it. So, if you’re going to commit to giving up an extra 4-6 hours to drive somewhere outside of our hometown for a job\event that you could’ve done at your salon, charging for your time away from your salon is worth it. Because you’re going out of your way for your client, and saying “yes” to them means you’re probably saying “no” to time with your spouse, kids, family, friends, building your business or just some much needed leisure time. Sometimes, in our business, when one client has a request, before deciding what to do, we ask ourselves this question: What if every client wanted us to do this? What if every client wanted you to travel for their hair or makeup appointment? If each appointment costs you a few hours to do and 1-3 hours to drive round trip, you’d be giving up a full day for each client! That’s a LOT of time!
How We Charge for Travel
Okay, now that we know why we should charge travel fees — because traveling costs us money and time — let’s look at how to decide how much to charge.
For us, it boils down to one simple question: When we think about it, how does it make us feel?
Before we were parents and now that we are, we didn’t decide on our travel fee based on the cost of gas or equipment and tear on the car, but simply based on what felt right for the amount of time and energy it was going to take.
We wanted to find the right balance between something that:
a) was reasonable for our clients to pay while still letting them know that we valued our time, and b) would make us “feel good” about doing it and not feel resentful, like we were getting a good deal and they were, too. We want to feel excited about every job, so we can ooze all that positivity and excitement onto our clients, and make their experience out of this world.
I LOVE traveling and love seeing new places, but we also have to be realistic about how much extra time, money and energy it takes, so that we never find ourselves feeling resentful of our own business. Instead, we want to make sure that WE are as excited as our clients.
How You Should Decide What to Charge
That’s how we decide, and that’s how we recommend you decide, too, because every Stylist has so many factors to consider when trying to determine whether or not to charge travel fees. You might have a brand new business and you’re looking to build your portfolio, so that might be a reason to charge less (or not at all), because you’re just so excited that your client wants you to travel in the first place. You might have family or friends in a town or city a few miles away that you’ve been wanting to visit anyways. That could be a reason or motivation, too. On the other hand, you might be busy up to your eyeballs and bursting at the seams with work. That could be a reason to charge a higher fee so that when a client does want you to travel for a hair or makeup session, you feel like it’s worth it to drop everything and go… and while you’re with that client, you’re not thinking about #allthethings you could be doing if you weren’t with them.
On that note, in my opinion, your travel fees for the same location don’t have to be the same for every client. Wait! What? You would charge people different prices for the same thing. No, because the way we see it, no two situations are the same. No two seasons of business or life are the same. In texas Spring weddings are popular because the weather is perfect.
In the summer or winter, venues change their prices based on the season or day. Weekends are usually more expensive. Thus, the same venues and resorts slash their prices to attract guests — and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s smart business.
The same logic applies to our business, and should apply to yours, too, which is why the “How does this make me feel?” If you play out the whole travel scenario in your mind, decide on a travel fee that makes you feel good about it, and if your clients agree, then do it! Make sure you explain your clients the reason why you are charging a travel fee. If it’s worth to them, they’ll invest in it. If it’s not, then they won’t, but the last thing you want to do is spend a day traveling somewhere, for a travel fee you’re not excited about, because you could have make a lot more money at you salon.
No matter why you decide to charge a travel fee and/or how much you decide to charge (if at all), from our experience, just make sure that it’s a win-win for you and your client, because if you both feel good about it, the experience is bound to be great, and you’ll both be glad you did it.