Question: I recently opened my own salon and spa and I sublease space to other stylists, massage therapists and one esthetician. My signature is the only one on the lease and I am solely responsible for making the rent and utilities each month. I previously worked at a large salon for 14 years and enjoyed the gratuity of loyal customers. Now that I have my own shop, those who always tipped me before have stopped because I am the “owner” of the salon. I don’t feel this is fair, and even consider them somewhat cheap for changing their standard tip. I want to educate them on the hard work and effort put into giving them quality service, using top notch products on their hair and body. How should I let them know my feelings? Thanks for your advice. ~ Jen
Answer: In previous years, typically the salon owner may not have been the stylist or manicurist. Today, most often the person doing the “hands on work,” cutting, flat ironing, massaging and exfoliating, is usually also the owner of the salon. Addressing the issue of tipping the salon owner must be done with the utmost tact, kindness and respect towards your customers. While it’s not appropriate to outright request a tip, when asked, you can say honestly, “ I gratefully accept gratuity if you are happy with my service.”
One of the many changes that comes with ownership is having to create a strong customer base that knows, and supports, the services you provide. It may be frustrating to get passed over while your coworkers are getting tipped, but voicing your opinion may come across as greedy or unappreciative. If you find it difficult to make ends meet without the added gratuity, it may be time to raise your prices to meet the new budget.
On the other hand, some salon owners may not expect, or accept a tip. It’s a personal preference, with some salons not allowing any of their employees to accept gratuity (the tip is factored into the cost of the service).
Jen, I don’t think your customers are being intentionally “cheap,” or unkind, they just assume the new role of “owner” comes with a different set of rules. Gently guiding your clients is a better option than potentially offending them by “feeling the need to educate” loyal customers.
For more on this topic, read a recent CNN Money article that I was quoted in, addressing this issue: 5 People You Might Not Tip but Should.