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Should You Tip Salon Owners

Posted on Jan 7, 2009 at 3:56AM

Should you tip salon owners?  Tipping the salon owner in years past was always considered taboo, and sometimes even offensive, but times have changed and so has the tipping rule.  

The following Q and A discussing tipping salon owners was recently in Allure:

Q:  The owner of my salon cuts my hair.  Am I really NOT supposed to tip him?

A:  *That's right.  Owners like me reap the rewards of the whole business, so the best way to show your appreciation is to keep coming back and to recommend our salon's services to other people.  I absolutely do not accept tips when given personally (and I do not expect -- or want -- clients to leave something at the front desk, either.)  If you feel you should do something, a thank-you note is always welcome, and around the holidays, a bottle of champagne is a nice gesture.  Any other stylist or colorist in a salon should be tipped 20 percent.  And don't forget to give five or ten dollars to the shampooer.

*Garren is the owner of the Garren New York salon at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York City.

In researching this issue and interviewing hairstylists and salon owners, we found salon owners to differ widely on this issue.

Booth Renter:  As a stylist who recently went out on my own and rent a chair, I would appreciate it greatly if my clients would add an additional tip to the bill.  If they find my services inadequate, I would hope they would tell me and not try to show it by not tipping.

Salon Owner:  I was a hairdresser for twenty years. I've worked commission, had a licensed salon in my home, and leased a booth. When I was in a salon I got tips all the time, even when I rented a booth. I even got gifts at Christmas and my birthday from many customers. A hairdresser leasing a station isn't the same as an owner even if it is their business. They don't make money off of other people. In a restaurant for example the owner isn't serving you, and taking care of you. They buy the food and someone else serves it. If an owner of a salon sat in their office, and didn't do hair I wouldn't tip them either. I don't understand where the "owner" thing comes in. I had a home salon that was licensed. I didn't make any more money than when I leased. In fact, I probably spent more because pampering my customers. I had to purchase gravel for parking, utility bills, I spent money on decor, flowers inside and out, a variety of magazines, warm drinks, ice water, etc to make it a pleasant experience for my customers. Yet, only a small percentage tipped me. I couldn't believe it. I gave all my customers my best effort regarding their hair, but when it came to accommodating their schedules that were inconvenient for me, making sure I had fresh coffee or water, an extra nice shampoo and massage, etc. I can tell you I went the extra mile for those that tipped generously. They made it worth my while to do so. What I finally did when it was time to raise my prices is add a tip to the normal increase, and told them I didn't take tips any longer. Because I wasn't willing to work for the amount of those that didn't tip.

in the upper end of the range. Multiple employees? Give $25 to $70 each. What to Consider: Cash and gift certificates are most popular.

Salon Owner:  Years and years ago at a conference I attended, they had a lecture about tipping and they were suggesting to stop accepting tips altogether... as we were professionals, like many other professionals. Would you tip a nurse, bookkeeper, court reporter et cetera? As a owner, it is not necessary to tip, however, many of my clients do and I have not been brave enough to refuse. I think I'll send a note to my clients in the new year regarding this matter . In many salons who do not pay their stylist well, they depend on their tips. It is unfortunate and confusing . In high-end salons, if you add twenty percent to a service, you are looking at quite a pricey couple of hours. Because I'm a one-chair salon, I have to go somewhere to be pampered. I tip big.. for two reasons:  One, it is customary and I really like my stylist. Secondly, I'm likely to be squeezed in, and also I might have to change an appointment. Tipping is a hard habit to kick.. The best tip you can give your hairdresser is to be on time, rebook and to tell everyone how wonderful their hairdresser is. If I were Queen, there would be no tipping, reasonable prices, fair salaries and fabulous hair .....

Salon Owner:  As a salon owner, this is a subject that frequently comes up with new clients. With close to 30 years in the business, I will do my best to share my perspective on this topic, from several points of view. Tipping the stylist who’s a salon employee: Many salons employ hairdressers who are paid an hourly fee, or a percentage of their services. For these stylists, a cash tip of 10%-20% would be ideal, provided the salon doesn’t have a policy against this. Tipping the stylist who’s a Booth Renter or Independent Contractor: With the advent of boutique salons over the last 15-20 years, many salon owners have chosen to go the route of renting out their chairs, or stations, to other hairdressers. This is a win-win for both the salon owner and the stylist. Since the stylist is basically an independent entity, he or she usually is responsible for scheduling their own appointments, supplying their own styling products, haircolor, cutting tools etc. This stylist also has the ability to set their own hours, testing the waters of added responsibility, which may be beneficial if they have dreams of opening their own salon. Therefore, while this type of stylist keeps a larger piece of the pie, they also have higher expenses. As a booth renter for 15 years, I was always grateful for the additional gratuities, which ranged from 10%-20%.

Bottom LineShould you tip a salon owner?  Every time that you schedule your follow-up appointment four to six weeks out, you’re voting with your hard earned dollars, and that in itself is a compliment to your stylist. A gratuity is an added bonus for a job well done, and is never mandatory.

If there is a stylist that would like to weigh in on this, we would love to hear your opinion.  Or as a client of a salon owner, how do you tip?

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1 Comment --
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posted by
Wed, 01/07/2009 - 10:15pm

Most salon owners have flat out refused a tip from me, as though to say, "my pride is my job well need to tip." But I agree, champagne or chocolates is nice. But who can do that these days!

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