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Last updated: December 13, 2022

What Would You Do: When Clients Can’t Afford To Tip

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What Would You Do: When Clients Can’t Afford To Tip

OK, we’re here to talk about the elephant in the room—tipping. When a client reached out to us saying they can’t afford to tip, but can afford to get a full head of foils every six to eight weeks, we knew we needed to ask our BTC fam for their input on the situation. And input you gave! This question received more than 6,000 likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments! Check it out below, then scroll down for what our members had to say about this tricky tipping situation!


I am a salon client and I don’t make a lot of money. Paying for a full head of foils every six to eight weeks is a big expense for me. I feel awful when I can’t afford to tip. Do stylists get super annoyed if there’s a lack of tip? I rave about my stylist to make sure they get more customers but I just can’t afford a tip every time. I really love my stylist and I absolutely adore how she does my hair, but do I need to find someone cheaper so I can afford a tip too? Do stylists hold it against you if you can’t tip?


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If you can afford the service, you can afford to tip…


“If you can’t afford to tip (20 percent of your service), that means you can’t afford your service. If $30 to $60 is really breaking the bank, you shouldn’t be spending $150 to $300 on hair every six to eight weeks. Go back to your natural color and save money. Or better yet, go for a super-rooted balayage so you can go three to four times a year and you can afford to tip!” – @meikachuu


“Even 10 percent is better than nothing! If you have an issue with budget, but you walk into the appointment with a Starbucks in your hand, you can afford AT LEAST 10 percent.” – @colorkissedxoxo


“If you can’t also budget the tip, then you need to wait until you can. Stylists are on their feet more than 8+ hours a day and work physically and mentally for each individual client. Some only make a portion of what the client is charged and have to live off their tips. The ‘verbal tip’ only goes so far. It should be coupled with the monetary tip. Either way, if you can afford to get your hair done every six weeks, you can afford to tip.” – @madebymilo72


“I just don’t understand how someone can afford to get a head full of foils every six to eight weeks but can’t afford to tip? You have two months of knowing you will be getting your hair done in that time. Save at least $20 for a tip. Now, if you come once a year because that’s what you can afford, I can understand. But every two months? 🤔 I work on commission and I don’t get to keep 100 percent of what I make. So I rely on my tips.” – @_angelina_renee


I can’t afford cheap clients…


“If I can’t afford to tip my server or my bartender or my nail tech then I can’t afford to be doing any of those things and I won’t go out at all. If you can afford the maintenance of foils you can save some cash on the side to tip your stylist. I personally don’t take clients again that get a service that’s $200+ and only tip $3 or clients that skip on the tip altogether. I’m a commission-based stylist and I have a baby at home…so I can’t afford cheap clients.” – @desdunlap


“I work hard to make a living for my family and I have bills to pay also. If you can’t afford to tip, but you can afford to get a full highlight every six to eight weeks, maybe you should be getting partials and then a full foil twice a year. I work for tips and only make a commission. So yes, I’m slightly offended because there are other clients who can tip who could take that opening.” – @jessicaavato


A tip is a gift—I never expect it…


“I think we’ve all been here before…as a stylist and as a broke girl or guy. I would never hold it against a client, but that being said, we also make a living off our tips so it does affect our income. Maybe if you can’t afford to tip every appointment, think about saving a little extra around your stylist’s birthday or holiday time. 😘” – @hairbymariaberger


“Not at all! It’s a gift. I know that I’m super expensive and that it’s a treat to get your hair done. If you can’t afford to tip, it’s OK. I appreciate the business either way.” – @jillannbauerdenverbalayage


“What I always tell my clients is tipping is never required but always appreciated. I would never want to lose a client because they couldn’t afford to tip me.”  – @sab_joy


“I would rather you be a constant client every six to eight weeks with no tip than someone who comes maybe once a year and tips me well. At least I can count on your six-to-eight-week appointment to pay my bills. I also look at tips as earned, not expected!” – @shannonshellstylist


“If you expect a tip, then add it to your service charge if you are that hard up for it. I look at it this way, I charge what I charge because everything is factored in. My time, cost, education. My clients show appreciation to me in many ways. Referrals, hugs, words of encouragement. I have worked in mall salons and I did rely on my tips a lot, but still, I am not privy to their pocket book. We aren’t bartenders and wait staff where our income is tips.” – @kristencollinshairstylist


Give back in other ways—referrals, reviews or Insta posts…


I’d personally rather have a good, consistent client for a full head of foils than someone who tips generously but comes infrequently. I’d just be upfront about why you’re not tipping because otherwise it could come off as you being unhappy or cheap. I think compensating with online reviews, referrals and posts on social media are more useful than tips because it helps our businesses grow.” – @dosanddyebyjulie


“I never do [hold it against my client]! I can tell you that some stylists might. I have always appreciated the extra tips my clients give me, but I would never complain if someone didn’t tip me huge. I can tell you I have one in particular that is an amazing client. She comes in every six weeks and sometimes she can’t afford to tip me, and that’s OK. I always appreciate just having a great regular client in my chair. 💖” – @hairbykatiemac


“If a client is not able to tip, we encourage our students to give out their business cards. New referrals are a great way to show your appreciation for hair services. Is 10 to 20 percent worth losing a consistent client?” – @hairacademy_md


A booth renter’s opinion…


“I believe that if a client has money left over to tip, you’re not charging enough. My tip is included in my pricing. An extra tip is just a bonus for me. I’m also a booth rent salon. Maybe a commission salon has more expectations for tipping, but I would never deem a client cheap because they can’t afford to tip. If she is consistent as a client that’s a tip to me.” – @sumthinboutmoe


“Yikes! I think differently than most people on here. I honestly don’t even notice if my clients don’t tip (most of the time)! I feel like if a tip is expected, then prices need to be evaluated. As stylists, we’re not working for a tip, we’re working to make a client happy and feel beautiful. Our prices vary depending on our knowledge and skill level. I may also think this way because I am a booth renter, so when I get paid, all money goes to me.” – @erindalehueslkamp