I’ve decided to start a new blog category called “Tip Jar,” where we’ll track how much I make in tips working on clients at Beauty U. And because tips make up such a significant portion of the average salon worker’s income and because they are so entirely subjective and at the whim of the client, we’ll also spend some time exploring what went into each tip — or lack of tip, if/when that happens.
First, let’s get caught up to speed:
Client #1 = $5 on a $25 European Facial.
Client #2 = $5 on a $22 Hand & Foot Paraffin Dip. I actually performed this the same night that Miss Susan came in to tell us that the junior students aren’t allowed to work on real clients anymore. Samantha was waiting on a friend getting her hair styled by one of the cosmetology seniors and decided to pop into the spa for a little pampering in the meantime. The senior girls were already booked solid, so Miss Stacy drafted Meg and I to handle her. (Meg gave her a facial after I paraffined her up.)
So now, Client #3. Yes, the irony continues — despite the “crackdown,” us junior students have been called on to do services almost every night this week. Tonight it happens as I’m doing some last-minute cramming for our big Milady’s Chapter 4 anatomy test; Margo arrives with her friend Denise for a 7 PM facial. Denise has an appointment; Margo does not. But Beauty U has a “walk-ins welcome” policy, so the Powers That Be decide my test-taking can wait.
I like Margo right away because she compliments my shoes as we walk over from reception, which opens up a nice bit of girl bonding over spring flats. She’s a little chattier than Jody, though once we get going with the steam and massage, she drifts off to dreamland while I work. Which, I realize, I really don’t mind now. At first it felt strange to be responsible for someone else’s relaxation while you feel anything but relaxed yourself. But now that I’m getting into a better groove with my facials, I’ve started to enjoy the quiet rhythm of the thing. It creates a space for me to tune out my surroundings and think my own thoughts, just as the client is doing.
Maybe that sounds bad. There’s surely a school of thought that says I should be slavishly devoted to my client at all times, thinking about her every pore. But in this case, at least, it pays off. Margo slips me $10 as I walk her out — a 50 percent tip on her $20 facial! — and tells me that she feels “invigorated and relaxed at the same time.” And she books two more facials before she leaves.
I’m feeling so confident that I take a swing at upselling, telling Margo and Denise that they might consider trying a more expensive facial next time that everyone swears up down and sideways offers tremendous anti-aging benefits.
It’s a little awkward, because they’re chatting about where to go for dinner, and I have to sort of interject with a “I just wanted to mention, before you go…” And I wonder if they’re both thinking “Okay, here comes the sales pitch.” Which makes me feel bad. Margo and I have been bonding over shoes! Now I’m about to tell her to spend more than twice as much the next time she comes to Beauty U.
But we have to get a teacher to sign off on a form saying we tried to upsell something after every single client, so I persevere — and when I say “anti-aging,” they both perk right up.
“How much is that one?” Margo asks.
“Well, it’s $55 here,” I say. “Which is a lot more than the standard European, but I promise, once you get it, you won’t want to go back. The results are amazing. Also that’s still way cheaper than what you’d pay at a regular spa.”
I mean, I pretty much hate myself now.
“Okay, we’ll think about it!” says Denise. “Anti-aging. That’s just what we need!”
I can’t make myself push any harder. It’s just creepy. So I tell them to have a great night and head back to the classroom. There’s no time left for a break — it’s already almost 9 PM, and I have an hour-long anatomy test to take, plus laundry to finish and a facial station to clean.
But I’ve also got ten bucks in my apron pocket. So there’s that.
Current Tip Total: $20
[iPhone photo by me. Careful folding up on the Hamilton by Margo. By the way, all three of these tips came folded the exact same way; what is it about tipping that makes us want to make our money as little as possible?]