Money Matters

When Family Members Want Freebies

When you work in the beauty business, it’s all but inevitable that family members will expect free services.

When you work in the beauty business, it’s all but inevitable that family members will expect free services. “Knowing how to say no, set limits, and establish boundaries with family is an important part of managing our business,” says barber and beauty industry educator Ivan Zoot, aka Clipper Guy ( “We need to be OK with the fact that it’s OK for
us to set these limits.”

Zoot offers two strategies — both suggested by hairstylists attending his classes — that he considers fair and reasonable for all involved. Both are easy to adapt for nail services.

• Family Beauty Night. Designate one evening each month as Family Beauty Night, perhaps the second Tuesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. During this time, you’ll treat anyone to a service — first come, first served — provided they show up with food to share. Everyone can pitch in with prep and clean up. If a family member can’t make it that night, let her know she is welcome to make an appointment at the salon and pay just like anyone else. This allows you to be open and generous, but to set limits on your time and free work.

• Punch cards. Issue family members a punch card every year at Christmas (or on their birthday). The card entitles them to three free regular services and one deluxe service at 50% off. It’s good all year, non-transferable, and doesn’t carry over to the next year. Once the punches are used, the person is welcome to book a full-cost service like any other client.

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