Business Management

Crowdsourcing: How do you deal with clients who tip poorly or not at all?

This month we asked nail techs: How do you deal with clients who tip poorly or not at all? Do you give them a different level of service? Why or why not?

I treat everyone the same. I'm just happy to get what I charge. Tip or no tip, I do the same work every time. Sometimes I even give free nail art, because our returning clients pay our bills.They are all important.

Kristi Spencer, Bentley Salon, Moline, Ill.

I’ve had a no tipping policy for 15 years and it’s the best thing I ever did. I just charge more and don’t have to hustle for tips, which the clients appreciate. Early in my career when I did accept tips, I used to feel bad and think it was my fault if clients didn’t tip or tipped poorly. That’s how people are conditioned to think because that’s how we base tipping servers in restaurants. When I’d been in the business for several more years, I realized that was faulty thinking. Some people are just against tipping for their own personal reasons, some people don’t know how much to tip, while others are scraping together all the money they can afford to get their nails done. Either way, it’s no reflection on me or my nail skills, so I gave them the same level of service and didn’t think poorly of them.

Jill Wright, Jill's — A Place for Nails, Bowling Green, Ky.

Even though it’s like a slap in the face not to get a tip, I never give my clients any different level of service, as It’s my work that is being represented on their hands — that would only be doing a disservice to myself. However, I do keep a list of who tips well, and who doesn’t at all. For those who tip, I try to throw in some extras like a few free nail jewels, extra nail art, an extra-long hand massage, etc. For the clients who don’t tip, specifically after a job that was more than well done, I’m certain to charge for every single thing, especially when it required extra work on my part.

Cynthia Mckenzie-Cook, Modish Nails by Cynthia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I never assume anything when a client tips me a lower amount or does not tip me at all. I don’t know if she can afford a larger tip or has spent her money to cover the cost of my service. I have repeat clients who have never tipped me but come back again and again. As long as they are paying my service fee, I'm happy.   
Savanna Glazier, SG Foot Care & Aesthetics, Regina, Saskatchawan, Canada

Some clients of mine don’t tip, but very few of them. I encountered this problem a few years ago and chose to increase my prices so that I was making “X” amount every hour, regardless of tips. If a person doesn’t want to pay for the service, then I have room for others who will. I had very little fallout as a result of my price increase and have been consistently busier than ever for more than two years now. I give the same level of service regardless because I know I’m getting what I work for in the end, without having to count on tips that a client isn’t required to give.
Kate Chitwood, Kate Nails It, Albany, Ore.

I have a client who has never tipped me, but because I am one of the owners of the salon I know that she is following the old rule that you don’t tip the owner.  I also have several clients who tip me very, very well.  But I appreciate all my clients and would never treat them differently due to the amount of the tip I receive. Many people have very different ideas of what is appropriate to tip and also very different income levels, so it’s not for me to judge. The only thing that makes me treat clients differently is how they treat me. If they are casual with my time, being late, no-showing or cancelling all the time, then I don’t feel that I have to bend over backward to get them back in quickly.  
Kathy Dent, Salon Glow, Reno, Nev.

Let me start off by saying that a tip is much appreciated, but not a right, nor expected. Clients who tip don’t get treated differently than those who do. A service is a service. I don’t lower my standards because of tips or lack thereof and I don’t depend on tips because I make sure my starting costs cover expenses. I have clients who joke and say, “Your next coffee’s on me!” and while I truly appreciate them thinking of me and going that extra mile (and will indulge in a fancy coffee or two every now and again — thanks ladies!), I usually tally up my tips at the end of each week, and it goes back into the business to help bring my clients new colors or to buy the latest nail art medium.
Beth Albrecht, Nails by Beth, Kitchener, , Ontario, Canada

Next question:
What are your best tips for recycling and “greening” your salon? [Answers will be printed in the April 2016 issue.] Share your opinion on the topic by e-mailing your response by January 15 to [email protected] Please include your name, salon, city and state, and a high-resolution headshot with your response.

You Might Also Like: Crowdsourcing: Do You Socialize with Clients Outside of the Salon?

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