Should she tip the salon owner?
April 21, 2007 7:19 PM   Subscribe

My wife has been going to the same hairstylist for 6 years. She loves his work and tips him well. Now, he's opened his own salon. Should she still tip?

The old rule is that you don't tip the owner, but this feels weird if the owner's the guy you've been tipping for the last 6 years.
posted by altcountryman to Society & Culture (27 answers total)
You don't tip the owner? I never knew that. Where do people learn about these rules?

I'd just offer a tip. If he takes it, keep tipping. If he declines because he's the owner now, stop offering. I doubt he'll be offended by one offer, especially if they've known each other for 6 years.
posted by contraption at 7:36 PM on April 21, 2007

If the salon is successful, and he hires additional stylists (or allows them to work as contractors), and he can fill his appointment book with higher paying customers (people who do tip), then she could find herself being pushed off to other stylists. The rationale for not tipping the owner of a business may be socially sound, but at some point, business comes down to money. The owner may be making more per haircut in his own shop, if he doesn't have to pay contractor fees (or split earnings with the shop, which is the same thing) as he did at the old shop, but his expense base is higher, too. At present, with the start up costs of a new salon, the new owner is probably going to be OK with pulling clients from the old business, but if he's successful, his attitude may well change.

That's one reason people open their own businesses: to have more control over how they spend their time, and with which clients. I'd say offer a tip, and I bet he won't turn it down, or appear at all offended.
posted by paulsc at 7:37 PM on April 21, 2007

Go ahead and tip. If he turns it down he turns it down.
posted by starman at 7:37 PM on April 21, 2007

I think you should keep tipping.

In some establishments it is common practice that some of your tip goes to the folks that wash your hair and do other odd jobs not directly related to cutting your hair.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:51 PM on April 21, 2007

For what it's worth - I was in this exact situation and I continued to tip. It was never refused.
posted by Wolfie at 8:04 PM on April 21, 2007

You don't tip the owner? I never knew that. Where do people learn about these rules?

This is the rule with all businesses, not just hair salons. For instance, you don't tip an owner who serves you at a restaurant or the head mover in a moving company. You also don't tip on takeout.

As for where people learn these rules, I think generally they learn them from friends who own such businesses (I've had wait-staff/owners who I didn't know were owners refuse tips). No doubt in this day and age people will just take the tip if offered but I don't think it's proper for them to do so.
posted by dobbs at 8:05 PM on April 21, 2007

I would tip as a "good luck in your new venture!" gesture. Maybe.
posted by thejoshu at 8:07 PM on April 21, 2007

I listen to the Mr. Manner's Podcast, because I'm a stuffed shirt.

Here's an Mp3 link for what he has to say (couldn't find a link to the text-only blog entry): Tips on Tips.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:08 PM on April 21, 2007

Forgot to link to his main page. I apologize.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:08 PM on April 21, 2007

If you tip him, he can refuse.
If you don't tip him, he can't ask you for money.

I say tip, to be safe. I didn't know this rule, and maybe he doesn't either.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 8:25 PM on April 21, 2007

I am in the same situation right now. My stylist of about 4 years opened her own salon about a year ago, and I still tip. It may be worth noting that she still charges me her old prices, while the new salon's prices are a bit higher, so I don't mind tipping.
posted by boomchicka at 8:43 PM on April 21, 2007

A small aside as far as not tipping the owner goes...I'm a bakery at a cafe/bakery where the waitstaff gets tips that they share with back of house staff. Often our owner works with us, and waiters occasionally offer her a share of their tips as a special thank you. She always refuses and has actually stated that it's against the law for her to accept a share of their tips. I don't know which law she's referring to, but maybe this partially explains the 'don't tip the owner' thinking?
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:05 PM on April 21, 2007

Argh. I'm a baker, not a BAKERY. (Although that sounds like a mighty delicious state of being).
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:06 PM on April 21, 2007

She always refuses and has actually stated that it's against the law for her to accept a share of their tips. I don't know which law she's referring to, but maybe this partially explains the 'don't tip the owner' thinking?

Now that you mention it, I actually recently heard a thing about this where the employees of a restaurant sued the owner\manager, because as salaried employees (as opposed to the waitstaff, who usually don't make minimum wage) it was illegal for the managing staff to take tips.
posted by !Jim at 10:11 PM on April 21, 2007

For instance, you don't tip an owner who serves you at a restaurant or the head mover in a moving company. You also don't tip on takeout.

I've never heard this.

Two of my favorite places to eat here in Houston are a Japanese sushi bar (the owner is the sushi chef and his wife often works as waitstaff) and an Indian restaraunt (where the owner is not bashful about bringing our stuff out himself). In both cases, I tip well in exchange for prompt, excellent service and food regardless of who waits on my table.
posted by mrbill at 1:55 AM on April 22, 2007

I am kind of obsessed with old etiquette books, and I've always thought that the "don't tip the owner" thing is strange, especially in salons. Maybe it seems marginally insulting, like you're saying they need the money, which is obviously not true because LOOK they OWN this place and they don't need your charity, unlike the tip-hungry peon stylists renting the other chairs in the salon! Whatever. Like many (but certainly not all) points of etiquette it's silly nonsense. Offer the tip, and if it is refused, make sure to personally tip the person who washed your hair (and any other non-owner people who were part of your service).

You also don't tip on takeout
This is true for fast food places, takeaway pizza or kebab places, etcetera. It is not true for restaurants with table service. It is almost certain that the person who puts in your order, goes to the storage room to find the right sized containers for the order to hand to the cooks, and then garnishes the food, makes sure all the lids are on tight, and organizes it nicely in a bag with all the little salt and pepper pouches and plastic flatware packs is a server, busperson, or bartender and they are having to take 10-15 minutes away from the work for which they receive tips, therefore jeopardizing those tips. It's a huge pain in the ass. So, yes, you do tip on takeouts, specifying that the 15-20% is for the person who packaged the order.
posted by Wroksie at 2:38 AM on April 22, 2007

I used to get my hair cut by the woman that owned the salon. She performed the exact same service an employed hairstylist would, and I tipped her the same amount. You tip them for the service and doing a good job that you appreciate, you don't withhold tip because their name is on the lease.
posted by wubbie at 2:43 AM on April 22, 2007

You always tip, if you get good service. Always. It presents you as a classy person, a cut above cheap bastards and the staff definitely remembers you for it.

Also, I've seen owners/managers accept tips and then turn them over to regular staff to split.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:27 AM on April 22, 2007

My regular stylist bought the salon where he has worked for years. I continue to tip him. Not incidentally, he also charges me a far lower cost than he does new clients.
posted by desuetude at 4:15 PM on April 22, 2007

The owner of the salon I go to cuts my hair. She does not accept tips. It is a "progressive" salon, where she charges the most for a haircut and other stylists charge less, depending on experience. A friend of my mom's who owns a salon where the price is the same no matter who you go to says the industry standard is: Tip the owner unless it is a progressive salon.

Also, she could just ask: Do you still accept tips?
posted by Airhen at 4:37 PM on April 22, 2007


Also try to refer a few friends there. New businesses usually like that. :)
posted by drstein at 4:50 PM on April 22, 2007

When my hairstylist bought out his salon, I stopped tipping. I recall hearing (from him I think), that the reason was: normally, the stylists pay the owner to be in the space (either a small monthly fee or a cut of the sales). Now, he is no longer paying anyone and he gets money from everyone else.

It felt weird not to tip though. He still did an amazing job and I tipped other people as appropriate.
posted by ml98tu at 7:31 PM on April 22, 2007

I have been in the same situation for years, and have continued to tip-though I have to say a bit reluctantly. I've always felt tips were a reward for good service in a field where folks didn't make a huge hourly wage, and so tips were a big part of their income. My salon owner has become very successful-he and his wife make far, far more than our family does, and much more, I'm sure, than his other staff. It does feel odd to tip, but odder not to.
posted by purenitrous at 8:20 PM on April 22, 2007

I tip at the place I go, and the stylist is also the owner.
posted by chunking express at 7:16 AM on April 23, 2007

I visited my salon yesterday, and there sat the 2/07 issue of Redbook. This question was posed. The answer was yes, you do tip the stylist even if he or she is the owner.

The reasoning: it used to be that the owner of such an establishment would just get all the money given to him for the service, whereas these days there is always a lot more accounting involved: all stylists, *and* the owner, are paid salaries, and the owner isn't simply pocketing the $65 fee for the haircut.
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:21 AM on April 23, 2007

I recently read something on this very thing. FWIW I tip my hair dresser, and he owns the salon. The thought was that years ago, one didn't tip the owner. But with the taking of credit cards and other upkeep, one should tip the owner.
posted by 6:1 at 8:44 PM on April 23, 2007

Thanks everyone! All good answers! She tipped and was glad she did.
posted by altcountryman at 8:12 PM on May 11, 2007

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