What Should I Tip The Girls In The Salon? August 27 2014, 1 Comment

Nail salon technician with guest

“So, what should I tip the girls?” I hear this question often in the salon. This is really a personal decision and not something I should answer for you. But what I can do is try to offer you some insight so you can make an informed decision.

One factor that is important to understand is that a majority of the technicians work on a commission split with their salon. This means that the technician receives a percentage of the service charge for your visit. A common percentage for a technician is anywhere from 50-60% of the service fee. So, on a typical $14 manicure they may receive $7-$8.50 and on a $20 pedicure between $10-$12. This may or may not sound like a good hourly wage to you. However, this model can prove to be a double-edged sword if a regular manicure takes an inordinate amount of time to complete or during slower periods when a technician is idle for an extended period of time. For reasons such as these tips received from guests are important parts of their income.

Another question I get is, “Can I just use the service industry standard 20%?” Possibly…but in some cases that may fall well short of what I would recommend. For example, if you go to a restaurant and order a $10 cocktail from the bartender using the industry standard for good service you would tip around $2. How much time did that person spend with you? In a salon, I would recommend using the 20% service industry standard as a guide and not as the final measure in determining your tip amount.

So, what factors should you consider when tipping at your salon? There are many variables at play here but here are a few to consider.

  • Did the technician provide a high level of service?
  • How much time did they spend with you?
  • Did the technician perform a service that you couldn’t get elsewhere?
  • Are you a regular guest of this technician (i.e. do you request them)?

Let’s look at a quick example. An appointment is made with a requested technician for an acrylic fill. The service takes 1 hour and the total service cost is $20. If you use the 20% standard your tip would be $4. Is this good enough?

From what we learned the technician would make $10-12 for the service plus tip. Assuming the level of service was good, the length of time, and request for the specific technician, I would suggest using a scale from $5 (average)-$10 (excellent) for the gratuity. Just a quick note, is that when you request a specific technician at most salons they are set aside for your appointment and can’t perform any services. A big pet peeve of mine is when a guest doesn’t show up for an appointment and the technician loses income ~ for another blog.

The reality is that tips are an important part of the nail technicians income ~ really any service employees income. So, if you have a favorite nail technician make sure to give some thought to your gratuity the next trip to the salon. I know they’ll appreciate it.

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