big debate add service charge

The Big Debate: Should You Add a Service Charge?

by charlottegw / last updated August 14, 2019

One salon owner and one business consultant discuss the pros and cons of adding a tip to a client’s bill at the end of their appointment.

Jo Robertson, hair brand and business consultant, believes there should be a service charge.

There are some salons in the UK who wouldn’t feel comfortable adding a service charge to their bill because they already feel uncomfortable with the prices they are charging clients for their services. For these salons adding a discretionary service charge onto the bill might be seen as too much of a risky move.

In saying this, we do need to take a different approach to raise prices within the UK hairdressing industry and to help clients understand the professional service we are providing for them.

Think about it this way – taxi drivers expect a tip after driving a customer from A to B and they don’t really provide a personal service so why can’t stylists expect a tip after each and every professional service?

If clients do not see the need to tip for the professional service that is being provided or are unsure of how much to tip, adding a service charge could keep everyone happy and eventually will be seen as the norm.

I believe this is a UK-specific issue and not global one. A service charge should not be frowned upon – it should be celebrated. I personally feel this would help to raise the standards of the industry and for it to be seen as the true service industry it really is.

I personally find it a lot easier when I am presented with the option of either 5% 10% or 20% when using a card machine to pay for a bill in a restaurant.

If the industry doesn’t adopt this discretionary tipping method, it is almost saying we are not providing a great service and we all know that we are. When we are in a restaurant, we feel quite happy to add the tip for a great meal and service so what is  different about the service provided in a hair salon?

Salv Mule, owner of Academy Salons, does not agree.

It’s my opinion that the hairdressing industry is a service industry and so to add another service charge to an appointment charge is inappropriate. If you’re charging what you’re worth in the first place, then there is no need to add an additional service charge. The problem is that most hairdressing salons don’t charge enough.

Most of my clients do automatically tip between 10% and 15% after every appointment. A small tip would be £5 and assistants routinely receive between £2 and £5. I think a fair amount for a tip – providing the client is happy with the service you have given them – is 10%.

I think it’s acceptable to include service charge in a restaurant, but it would be frowned upon in a hair salon. If my clients saw that an extra charge for their service had been added to their bill they would react badly. No-one likes being charged extras in my experience. Often restaurant customers resent the service charge being added to their bill so they don’t tip at all as a result or they think they have paid enough already.

In a restaurant you don’t have the same relationship with your waiter as you do with your hairdresser. Your hairdresser is changing your appearance and giving you a personalised service. It is because of this personal approach that I think it’s up to the customer to decide whether they want to tip or not.

Your client shouldn’t feel obliged to tip in the same way that you might feel you should in a restaurant. The choice should be with the client on whether they want to tip their hairdresser.

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