Chelle Neff, Owner of Urban Betty

Once a week as the owner of a salon, I get asked “How should I tip?”, “What should I tip?”, and while that question can be awkward and confusing, it’s actually completely up to the salon guest. While we never expect anyone to leave a tip, it is greatly appreciated and I’d love to break down for you the best times and ways and how to tip while in the salon. I also recommend only tipping when you love your salon experience and your hair.

Should senior stylists receive bigger tips?

Normally senior stylists have higher prices and if you are tipping a percentage, based on the amount of the service (15%-20%), they would in essence receive a larger tip. It’s usually not kosher to tip a standard dollar amount; instead a percentage of the services is what is customary.

What percentage of a tip should we give to the assistants of stylists?

At my salon we do not pressure clients to tip the assistants. Much like a waiter has to tip out bussers or food runners, we ask our stylists to tip their assistants from their own pool of tips based on goal setting each day. This varies from salon to salon and it is best to ask your stylist or the front desk staff what is customary at your salon.

Should the time it takes a stylist to provide a service affect the amount of money we tip? Should any other factors affect tip?

No, time should not be a factor when tipping. If it is taking quite a bit of time for your service, it will most likely raise the price of the service. Therefore if you are tipping based on a percentage of the service, instead of the time, it will be a higher tip. If you want to tip extra because of time, by all means you can, but it’s not a necessary requirement.

Other factors clients worry about is whether or not to tip their stylist if they are the owner of the salon. I don’t know who made up that owners providing a salon service shouldn’t be tipped. It’s definitely an urban legend. Owners love tips! And please tip them based on the services that you are receiving (again 15%-20%) just like any other stylist. Most of the time small business owners are living paycheck to paycheck or even forgoing their own service commissions to compensate staff during the early years of business.

Should I tip in cash?

Cash tips are definitely the best! We never want to pressure a guest to feel as if they need to tip in cash though. Whatever is most convenient for them is greatly appreciated. The reason most businesses ask for cash is because of credit card fees. Credit card fees can be up to 5% on most transactions. And while that doesn’t seem like a lot, it can really take a toll on small salons with very small margins. My salon has paid up to $36,000 total in a year in credit card fees based on our revenue. I would love to save that money and give it to my staff instead. Most salons are only operating on cash flow or a 3-5% margin at the end of each year. So every little dollar saved helps.