Let’s talk tipping. Or the lack thereof. 

This is a touchy subject, because there are so many different ways to look at clients who don’t tip.

Tips mean everything to a service-based business — and yet, they are optional.

The amount of times people search for…

How much do I tip a hair stylist?

“Do you tip a massage therapist?”

“Do I leave my barber a tip?”

It’s insane.

So, what do you do when you have a regular client who doesn’t tip enough? Or clients who don’t tip at all? 

When I owned my salon business — and now as a business consultant for stylists — this topic (and how to get more tips) came up often. I’m giving you some suggestions on how to handle low and no tippers based on my personal experience.

But, of course, do what you feel is best for your small business. 

What to Do About Someone Who Doesn’t Tip

Remind Yourself That Tips Aren’t Guaranteed

I truly believe that a tip is like a bonus. Expecting a tip is setting yourself up for disappointment.

If you go in expecting one every time, you will find yourself upset and or even angry in the backroom. 

Don’t get me wrong: Does it stink when you spend four hours with a client, and they don’t tip you or leave you $5?

Yes, it does.

I’ve been there myself, but try to think about it from the client’s perspective. 

Some clients don’t understand the tipping game. They don’t even think it’s a thing, right?

Then you have the clients that overtip. The ones that truly take care of you and give you more than the average tip (which is about 15-20% of the service value): the 25- or 30-percenters.

It really does all average out at the end of the day. 

The other side of this is that some clients just can’t afford to leave a tip.

You may think, “OK, well don’t come to me if you can’t afford my salon’s prices.”

Maybe they just love your work and saved for months to come and see you. How fortunate are you to do what you love every day — and to have talent that people save up to use?!

Pricing Your Services Right = Stop Relying on Tips

It’s incredibly important to price your services properly with profits wrapped into each service price. Then, you are covered.

The tip? That’s just extra. Fun money for you to spend on new tools or even some much-needed self-care. 

So, how do you do it?

I often suggest to my clients that rather than fighting for more tips, they should change their business approach. Why not go with a non-tipping model? 

How to Create a Tips-Free Pricing Structure

  1. Start adding in 15-20% to all salon services.
  2. Make it very well-known you do not accept tips.
  3. Add a disclaimer to your online booking site if this is the way you decide to go.
  4. Let your current clients know in advance that you’re changing your prices and why. This shift has to be very well thought out and clear to the guests coming in for services — including repeat clients

I talked to a few suite owners that build “tips” into their pricing. They actually enjoy not having the pressure of relying on client whims — and feeling irked by clients who don’t tip.

I believe the guests feel less pressure as well. They don’t have to figure out what 15% is on their service while they’re trying to check out.

There are definitely pros and cons to this approach, especially if you have employees. Make sure you’re compliant with your state labor board in terms of compensation and commission, and it’s worth thinking about. 

How to Make More Money in 8 Weeks

We’re officially changing the conversation around money. Let’s talk growth.

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Try Online Booking Apps That Automatically Suggest Gratuity

I don’t believe you should ever bring up tipping — or the lack thereof — to a client.

This is a quick way to turn off your clients and make them feel bad if they can’t afford to tip you. It puts everyone in a really tough spot. 

That said, there are may payment processors that gently suggest gratuity when clients pay with credit cards. Schedulicity’s built-in payment processor, for example, now automatically suggests 18% as you check out a client. 

This works well for a few reasons.

It lets you avoid the awkward “Would you like me to add a tip to the total? …How much?”

It also means clients don’t have to do the awkward math in their heads around a random $125 total.

Plus, for those clients who don’t tip because they just don’t know they should, it’s a polite reminder.

If included tipping is enough to convince you that Schedulicity is it, sign up today for free.

Accept the Ebb and Flow of Your Salon Finances Gracefully

That said, if a client doesn’t tip, or undertips, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it is what it is.

I believe that is part of servicing guests — recognizing the ebb and flow of receiving big tips and not receiving tips at all.

Go in with a clear understanding that a tip is a bonus, and it’s not to be expected. It can truly change the way you think about tipping and what it means for your business.

Try Out a Side Hustle for Hair Stylists

It’s not ideal to work more to make more money. We’re big believers in building a weekend into your schedule.

But living paycheck to paycheck as a service provider is brutal.

Plus, the side hustle culture is super common in the hair and beauty industries, so you’re not alone.

Chances are your stylist co-workers are not just stylists. They’re hair influencers, product promoters, salon educators, brand partners. The list goes on.

If you just can’t get clients to tip you more on a service (or you just love your work!), consider a side hustle as a way to supplement your income.