Stiffing My Stylist

My current hairstylist is a former client. I did her nails all through her high school days, then she bailed home-town Visalia for the sunny shores of San Diego, where she did some college, found a boyfriend and a job at Starbucks, and eventually decided she really wanted to do hair.

She's 25 now — I've known her for 11 years — and she's back home with a studio salon in the suite right across the hall from me!

She's only been back in Visalia for about a year now, still working part time at Starbucks to pay the bills and trying to build a clientele on a shoestring budget. All of this I can totally relate to — except the part where she has a part-time job to help pay the bills in the meantime. I did it full-immersion style; all nails, all at once!

So when I talked to her a couple of weeks ago and told her I wanted to take my hair back to something closer to my natural color (yes, less pink) and she came in with her appointment book in hand to schedule the appointment, I sucked it up and acted confident about it.

Not that I need to worry about her skills; she's good at this hair thing. More like, I'm just coming out of my slowest part of the year — the dreaded back-to-school season where moms and college students decide to pay for school tuition and supplies instead of nails — and headed into a month of really expensive personal projects, like an impending family trip to Disneyland. So even though I really did need my hair done, I wasn't looking forward to paying for it.

And, of course, budgeting for the 20% tip on top of the cost of the service wasn't making me any more enthusiastic about it.

Ultimately, when the day came around I was counting my pennies and making sure I had cash for her, plus tip. And I was pretty horrified that it did not look like I was going to be able to add the additional $20-$25 for a proper tip. So I seriously considered rescheduling the appointment. Because, let's face it, no matter how tolerant we all are of our clients who don't tip or tip crappy (Really? You can't at least do 10%?), when it's someone from within our own — or similar — industry, you really sort of wonder what the hell they're thinking if they don't tip at least as well as they'd expect to get tipped themselves, right? So I'm so not going to waltz into my former client's salon and not tip her like a pro!

But then, I remembered being there. Heck! Listen to me! There are obviously still weeks when I'm still there! I would so much rather have a client come in and get her nails done and pay me what I charge for the service than not come in at all just because she can't shell out an extra $5 for the flippin’ tip! When money is tight, I'd rather have the $30 than not have anything. And I bet Bree feels the same way! The hundred dollars for my service today is worth more to her than a $125 next week. Right? It's not like I wouldn't throw the extra at her next week anyway.

Yeah. I know. It doesn't seem like a major revelation that's gonna make much difference to you. It was just one of those things where I realized that I was applying a different mentality to the situation as a consumer than I do as a business owner, so I thought I'd share.

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