I’m not sure we’ve thought more about touch than we have recently. From “staying in touch” with friends and family, from a distance to the rise of words like “touch-free”, “hands-free”, and — for those of us who love Postmates — “contactless delivery”, touch might just be the word of 2020 and 2021. Well, touché.

As a service provider, you are already grappling with countless “whats ifs” when it comes to getting back to business. You’re thinking about PPE costs and booking and cleaning processes, plus considering whether you should require deposits, or that clients sign waivers, or that you not accept new clients at all. And then, of course, there’s accepting payment for your services. 

The conventional wisdom seems to be: The less cash exchanged, the better. It’s safer, cleaner — and then there’s the U.S. coin shortage these days.

Encouraging clients to switch to credit card payments is easy enough. But once you’ve done that, that’s when things might start to feel awkward. In a word: tips.

You’ve spent your career graciously accepting them, but that doesn’t mean you want to outrightly ask for a tip after each session. But what if there’s no easy way to encourage tipping that keeps the process hands-free? 

Here are a few tips from the team behind our built-in payment processing to help providers who are grappling with the “should I or shouldn’t I?” aspect of asking for tips on credit card payments. 

How to Encourage Tipping with Credit Card Payments

  1. Change your pricing structure
  2. Communicate in advance
  3. Buy some new hardware
  4. Just go with it

Pro tip: Speaking of touch-free… If you happen to be using Schedulicity as your scheduling platform for appointments, you already have access to a tool called Norm.

With Norm, you can send the bill via text right to your client’s phone. They can then confirm the bill, add the gratuity amount they’d like, then finish checking out all on their own — all from their own phone!

How Do You Encourage Tipping When Switching to Contactless Payment? 

Technique 1: Get Rid of the Tip Structure and Charge What You’re Worth 

Former salon owner and business consultant (she’s also our resident industry columnist), Nina Tulio, says that if you’re relying on tips to make rent, chances are your pricing structure is unbalanced. It makes sense: Even back when cash tips were the norm, there’s so much uncertainty around how many tips you’ll receive each month and when. 

Instead, Tulio recommends taking a look at your finances and reevaluating what you’re charging for your services or classes. StyleSeat also recommends changing your pricing structure if tipping isn’t working for you.

If it makes more sense to raise your rates, then let clients know you’ll no longer expect a tip — do it. You can communicate all of this well in advance via your mailing list (our Email Marketing tools are great for this).

Technique 2: Encourage Tipping Before Clients Arrive for Their Appointments

Speaking of email marketing, our Payment team recommends that you consider sending an email out explaining how your payment process has changed and why.

Your clients get that their appointments will look very different now than they have in the past. When you send them an email updating them on how your booking process works now — and how they should prepare before coming to your studio or salon — why not add a section about tipping?

This is a win-win: 1) it reminds any slightly…obtuse clients that you do, in fact, accept tips, and 2) it clears up any confusion in advance because you can explain how the credit card tipping works.

Here’s a way of phrasing it: 

“Because we’re trying to go as hands-free as possible we’re accepting and encouraging touch-free credit card payments. With our system, you won’t be able to select your own tip amount, so please let me know at the end of your appointment if you’d like me to add a tip to your total and for how much. As always, it’s so appreciated!” 

Technique 3: Buy a Stylus! 

Or you can allow for a little touch. Places like Walgreens or CVS all carry cheap stylus pens (you know the ones with the foam ball at the end?). They’re easy to clean, so you can hand the pen over to the client rather than your entire payment device. Once your client leaves, presto! Just spray and clean the pen. No need to sanitize your full device every time. 

Technique 4: Practice Getting Comfortable with Asking for a Tip (It’s Now the Norm!) 

The truth is, the awkwardness around tipping feels a lot less substantial these days. We’re all nervous about touching other people’s items. We’re all uncertain. So, when all else fails, just address it. You can even practice on some of your most loyal clients to get more comfortable. And hey, feel free to crack a joke. Think:

You:  “It was so great to finally be able to see you! Your total today is going to come to $X without a tip included. Would you like to add gratuity?”

Them: “Sure…like 20%?”

You: “Thank you so much! It feels so strange to bring up tipping, but I guess this is what everyone means when they say this is ‘the new normal’.”