Since reopening after weeks (and months) of pandemic shutdowns, some salons have noticed that tips from clients have become more generous. And while reasoning varies—clients missed their favourite stylist, some people want to show their financial support in light of the hardships many salons have faced, and others are choosing to express their appreciation for the service they received—it’s abundantly clear that clients are thankful to be back.
“When we returned from the first lockdown, I noticed that many regular clients were giving more generous tips to the hairdressers. They were so happy to be in the salon—many of them were even emotional,” says Jean-François Jodoin, owner of M Coiffure, Montreal. “Having beautiful hair makes all the difference! Many clients have their routine and were used to coming in for their hair appointment every week. It kind of felt like they wanted to pay us what they didn’t have to pay for the weeks/months that we were closed.”
With the season of giving upon us, we spoke with salon owners about how they’re expecting to manage tips ahead of the holiday season, and for their advice on how to make tipping a team-building experience.
Managing the Money
While some salons prefer to stick to the traditional method of clients tipping their service provider directly (eg. providing envelopes at the reception desk for cash tips), the pandemic has changed things for some businesses. One of these changes has involved encouraging clients to use electronic payments rather than cash, which, when managing tips received from a debit or credit card, can be trickier since there’s a need to factor in payment processing fees.
“Less and less people are carrying cash. Clients are free to give tips electronically on their card during the service transaction or by cash, and there will be no disadvantage for the hairdressers either way because I absorb the card transaction fees. At the end of the year, when I analyze my bank statements and I see that $10,000 to $17,000 went through in tips per hairdresser, I can only be grateful and appreciative for them.” — Jean-François Jodoin, owner of M Coiffure, Montreal
“Since a tip is a way for our guests to show appreciation for their services, they go directly to their service provider. Our tips go directly into our salon software and directly to our stylists’ pay from that payroll period.” — Michael Gibson, owner and co-founder of Brush Salon, Vancouver
“I wanted to make the transactions and payment process easier for our clients and was asking other salon owners how they were managing tips on the machine and if they were even accepting them. Because I didn’t want hairdressers to be penalized, even though I was a little reluctant at first, I decided to pay the transaction fees myself to leave the hairdresser with the same amount of tip regardless of if the client decides to pay cash or by card.” — Jean-François Jodoin, owner of M Coiffure, Montreal
Spread the Love
Some salons may consider pooling their tips and distributing them evenly among staff, especially during busier times of the year, and the holiday season in particular. However, it’s important to note that there may be implications to this method come tax season.
“Tips and gratuities that employees receive are considered income earned in respect of employment for purposes of the Income Tax Act. A good accountant or bookkeeper is essential in helping you manage your finances within your business.” — Michael Gibson, owner and co-founder of Brush Salon, Vancouver
“If a hairdresser helps another hairdresser during a very busy day, or during the holiday period for instance, they take care of splitting any tip they would receive between themselves.” — Jean-François Jodoin, owner of M Coiffure, Montreal
“If a stylist has a personal apprentice they work with, a percentage of their tips go directly to their apprentice to show their appreciation for their help.” — Michael Gibson, owner and co-founder of Brush Salon, Vancouver
“I’ve heard of other structures in regard to tipping, such as pooled tips, or adding a percentage to a client’s bill to cover tips. I think it depends on the business, their needs, and what works for them.” — Michael Gibson, owner and co-founder of Brush Salon, Vancouver
“Pooling would not work in my salon since we have too many hairdressers with different levels of experience and a diverse range of clientele.” — Jean-François Jodoin, owner of M Coiffure, Montreal
What To Know
Before making any changes to your salon’s tipping operations, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of any structure, and, if you move forward, to focus on making the change as seamless as possible for both your clients and staff.
“When the client is ready to pay, we provide an in-depth explanation of all the services and products on the transaction. If the total is $350, we break it down. For example, $195 for services and $155 for [take-home] products. It’s important to be mindful when adding the tip on the machine because the percentage it is suggesting will be for the total amount [and not just for the services]. We just want to make sure the client is aware of every aspect of the transaction and how the tip is calculated.” — Jean-François Jodoin, owner of M Coiffure, Montreal
“If you’re looking to make changes within your business, do it after your year end to have a smooth transition and make sure you are having open and clear communication with your team. The last thing you want is for your business is to change your tipping structure before the busiest time of year. Keep the focus on making our guests happy and giving them the absolute best experience.” — Michael Gibson, owner and co-founder of Brush Salon, Vancouver
Tipping the Scales
Some salons, including The Cabinet Salon in Toronto, opt to utilize a gratuity-free structure and charge for services on an hourly, gender-free basis.
“When doing research about making the change to hourly/gratuity-free, we noticed that the hairstylist trade is really the only registered trade still using a performance-based or gratuity pay scale. Our trade is around 80 per cent owned or operated by women; it’s not a coincidence that the trade with a higher percentage of women still uses a performance-based pay scale. We believe it’s time to change that. Using an hourly/gratuity-free model provides pricing transparency, removes gender from service, and gives us, as stylists, the ability to truly customize our clients’ time in the chair with us while removing the awkwardness of tipping. — Emma Rose, co-owner of The Cabinet Salon, Toronto
“Our tipping structure was a traditional client decision on a point-of-sale device with a 10 to 20 per cent choice on the total sale. With an hourly/gratuity-free structure, we provide pricing transparency with a streamlined salon experience.” — Alex MacDonald, co-owner of The Cabinet Salon, Toronto
“Recently, we’ve heard of more service-based businesses, such as restaurants, also making the switch to gratuity-free. It removes the pressure from the patrons as often people will comment on how they are not sure how much they should be tipping. Is it too little? Is it too much? Our services are booked and priced by hourly rates that are gender-free. This streamlines the booking and quoting process, allowing flexibility to customize each client’s appointment to their needs and goals while giving the stylist freedom to create their best work. I think an hourly gratuity-free model has a lot of benefits for our industry, ranging from pricing transparency for clients to helping your stylist elevate their income and grow their net worth.” — Emma Rose, co-owner of The Cabinet Salon, Toronto
“Going gratuity-free removes tipping awkwardness. It also offers the service provider a more consistent income and helps them be able to better plan their finances. All hourly rates are reflective of one-on-one time with each of our stylists. Each team member has an hourly session rate that reflects their experience, specialties and demand on their time.” — Alex MacDonald, co-owner of The Cabinet Salon, Toronto