Dear Shari: What can we do about those returning clients who tip $1 for a manicure and pedicure service?


What can we do about those returning clients who tip $1 for a manicure and pedicure service? Is there a standard percentage — like at least 15% is a standard gratuity for dining out? Sincerely, Tipped Off


Dear Tipped Off:

One option is to add a 15% gratuity onto your services. If you go this route, be sure to post that fact in your salon and on all service menus and advertising.

But I would carefully consider the impact of such a policy. First of all, an automatic tipping policy essentially raises your service prices. To a customer a $40 pedicure is a $40 pedicure; it doesn’t matter to her if 15% of it is a tip — it’s still $40 out of her pocket. Take a look at your competition’s prices. Will adding the 15% gratuity make your salon seem over-priced? How do you think customers will feel if you decide how much they are going to tip you?

If tips are an important part of your income and low tippers are dramatically impacting your profits to the point you need to control the percentage, then just raise your prices and adopt a “no tipping” policy. Customers will get a completely different impression of a salon that doesn’t accept tips compared to a salon that slaps on a 15% gratuity.

One more point that needs to be considered when making such an important decision. What is the average percentage that customers tip in your salon? One person may not tip and the other may tip 30% — one often balances the other out.

As a salon owner I try to discourage my staff from feeling as if customers have done them a wrong by not giving a large enough tip. I never want a customer to feel negative energy from a nail tech looking down her nose at a client she felt had stiffed her last time. Tips are just tips. Sometimes they are great and sometimes not — that is just how it works.

Veteran nail tech Shari Finger — owner of Finger’s Nail Studio in W. Dundee, Ill. — fields reader questions in the areas of salon management and workplace politics. If you have a question for Shari, e-mail it to [email protected]

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