So, no tipping?”
“Where do I leave her tip?”
“Is it too late for me to add gratuity?”
“How will I show her how thankful I am?”
Our response to all these questions is the best tip you can give us, truly, is coming back to Perpetuity Skin + Spa. We don’t include a percentage fee automatically as a tip, there’s not a “service charge” or the like, no, gratuity is not included, because we just don’t do it. Some clients mention “oh I forget, the tip is included” and we try not to elaborate because correcting a client post massage isn’t meeting our mission statement, it’s not important to clarify, but no, a tip is not included, because it’s not necessary.
Stay with me, because tipping is a bigger issue in our community and in our country, and we all see it, today we can’t buy a self-serve frozen yogurt without a mandatory tip being added for the employee behind the register. Not h/er fault, the restaurant industry has the “tipped minimum” hourly rate, currently $2.13 per hour, so the tips are required to (hopefully) add up to a living hourly wage. But this post won’t bemoan those practices because Perpetuity Skin + Spa is not a restaurant (not yet, anyway;). If you want a history lesson on this kind of tipping as having significant socioeconomic consequences, as being ineffective in rewarding performance, and hospitality tipping’s dark past in our country, this book* is excellent.
What I’m talking about is tipping in the salon/spa environment. The norm, yes. Baffling to be tipping in a professional, state certified skilled trade environment, is to us, also, yes.
In doing our business plan for the spa, we wanted to make sure our rewards reinforced the mission, vision, and values of the company. We also don’t compensate like other spas/salons, but that’s for another day/blog post. One mechanism that fell off the list immediately was tipping, some of the reasons I’ve outlined here.
Tipping is unpredictable as a source of income and contributes to financial insecurity.
Some clients tip, a lot. Other clients tip low, or nothing. A variable income creates a variable performance mechanism, and an insecurity that exists daily. Since we wanted to create sustainability for both our team members and our guest experiences, we discovered immediately that tipping was counterproductive. We know it’s not the norm in this industry. We know we’re different. And yet after doing it this way for three years what we also know is everyone involved can relax, clients know the price, employees know their income, and we enjoy what comes with an excellent guest experience.
Tipping rewards individual behaviors.
Tipping isn’t beneficial for the teamwork required at Perpetuity to thrive. Competition, resentment, and other feelings borne from one’s income is significantly variable and decided by the client. But “my client” doesn’t exist at Perpetuity – we truly believe everyone is “our client.” And all of our clients started out as one area’s client, and then they started into others, massages, facials, floats, nails. , we want our clients to experience as much as they can with us, because when we achieve our goals, it’s a team effort. When we win, it’s together, or not at all.
As small business owners, we were also confronted by the inherent confusion in the tipping relationship. If practitioners are literally working for clients’ tips, rather than for their employers’ wages, practitioners may become more subject to the whims of the customer and could become more vulnerable to questionable conditions and requests. You get what you reward, and at Perpetuity, we’re just as invested in our client relationships as we are in our relationships with each other, so we can’t reward only one.
Tipping feels awkward and creates a ton of (expensive) work.
Our team members studied for their profession, and are certified by the state, so having a tip exchange at the end of a client appointment clouds recommendations by an industry expert, and implies the relationship as transactive, not consultative. But at the same time, in our society, tipping has become an entitlement, an irritation. We’ve all spent $350 on a hair appointment, and had to decide internally, “yes, I will add another $75 as a tip and pay $425 today, not because I want to, but because it’s expected.” We don’t want any of that, and provoking those feelings doesn’t fit our vibe because after you get out off of the treatment table, that’s not the last impression we want you to have in here. Our client experience goals are higher, we want to be your guide to sustainable self-care, and part of that is setting prices everyone understands and is fair to all.
Tips are also, administratively, expensive and distracting (two words that horrify any business owner). There’s tracking the cash tip payouts, the electronic payments, and inherent credit card fees, which in many establishments are taken off the tips themselves, not borne as an additional cost of doing business by the employer. Tips are taxable income, meaning the employer reports the portion collected on behalf of the employee, and the employee is burdened with tracking and reporting their tip income, and making up any delta on the differences between the employer’s report of tips earned and their own. What a huge time suck for a relatively low, and always unpredictable, amount of income when with that same time and energy we could spend making our client experiences that much more meaningful.
Tipping isn’t evil, everyone loves gifts from those they know, but that’s how we consider it, a gift.
We are not tip haters, it obviously works for many in this industry, especially solo practitioners. And some of our regular clients are close to their practitioners at the holidays, and know their birthdays, and give them a little something, gifts, plants, or a little money. Recognition, real recognition, affects us, in the best way. We don’t deny that.
This is our third year not tipping!
This month marks our third anniversary and being a part of a collective workplace culture and a stable employment model in this industry is different, but we hope it catches on, for everyone’s sake. Change takes time, but meanwhile, you will have more engaged practitioners without the tipping, in Perpetuity.
*Jayaraman, Saru (2020) Forked: a new standard for American dining, Oxford University Press
We are Perpetuity Skin + Spa on Vista Avenue, and we are the Boise Bench's self-proclaimed best day spa! We offer many luxury day spa experiences, from organic facials, CBD massage, reiki, floatation therapy, hard gel manicures, facial waxing, dermaplaning, sugar scrub pedicures, Thai stretching, lash extensions, sugaring, body wraps and more! Our service menu outlines the therapeutic body therapies and advanced skincare solutions you've heard about, but haven't had the chance to try. The prices you pay here are fixed, no tipping, our deal is fair and square (curious why? Read here.) Come see why your experiences in self care should have always been in Perpetuity. BOOK NOW to secure your spot, or give us a call to organize something just for you! 208-996-3090