“Staying in touch” with friends and family.

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 the decade. Well, touché.

As a service provider, you’re already grappling with countless “whats ifs” when it comes to your small business.

You’re thinking about extra business costs and online booking and actual services.

You’re considering whether or not you should require deposits. Should clients sign waivers?

Can you 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.

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 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 based on our built-in payment processing to help providers who are questioning 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’re using Schedulicity Unlimited 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 confirm the bill, add the gratuity amount they’d like, and 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 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 re-evaluating what you’re charging for your services or classes.

If it makes more sense to raise your prices than to 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!)

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Technique 2: Encourage Tipping Before Clients Arrive for Their Appointments

Speaking of email marketing, we recommend you consider sending an email out explaining how your payment process has changed and why, especially if you’re doing contactless payment now.

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.

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 contactless 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 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. Practice on 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’.”