Tipping in Nail Salons - What's Your Company Policy?
The concept of tipping is seen very differently across the globe. With its roots in the American food service industry, tipping has slowly but steadily become accepted in other parts of the world and it’s certainly not limited to the places we eat. We now see it from time to time in hair salons, at home when the plumber fixes a leak and when somebody really goes the extra mile for you.
Bringing the idea back home. In contrast to how tipping works in the US, in the UK, tipping isn’t an expected element of the payment for service. If we use a food service example, if a server in a restaurant in New York manages to get the food you ordered to your table, doesn’t offend you and you get out without losing a limb, then you’ll be expected to tip. It’s said that “if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out”. American society accepts that the tip is expected, and you would need to justify not paying it.
However, If we look at the same example in the UK, a tip is very rarely expected in most scenarios and if one is given, it’s normally for exceptional service. We also have a different attitude to the amount that is given as a tip. In the US, there’s a formula for calculating the tip that’s something along the lines of multiplying the population of Denmark by five and then taking the square root of the number of people at the table with brown hair and then adding those two numbers together. Easy.
In the UK, it’s common to just ask people to ‘keep the change’. If this is just a few pence then it’s seen as convenient for the person paying whereas if the amount is a few pounds, then it’s regarded as a tip even when this isn’t mentioned. This is why it’s an interesting topic. Many people would agree that in the UK we don’t have a ‘culture of tipping’ but perhaps the reality is that we have a culture of ‘covert tipping’, where we don’t want our change back, but we don’t really want to admit it’s a tip because our cousins from across the water haven’t influenced us at all.
Now, the bit where we actually talk about nail salons. As employers of a business that accepts cash transactions, it’s important that staff understand what is expected of them with regards to tipping, even if it is this British-esque “keep the change” style of tip. Some salons have a policy of sharing tips whereas others leave each employee to keep their own. This needs to adapt to the business model of course but the main thing is that there’s a clear policy and that everybody understands it.
- Ben Young