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- Customer Service & Satisfaction
The Many Faces of a Tipper
Which one are you?
Working in the service industry means a portion of your income comes to you by the generous people you serve. These are your clients, customers and, for lack of a better term, the "Tipper".
Working in the service industry, you will learn quickly there are many different faces of The Tipper. Some of these are generous in nature, some of these are undereducated, some of them are cranky, and some of them are strict to the rules. After a short amount of time in this industry, you can easily pick these people out, based off the tip received.
The multiple personalities of The Tipper is something both sides of the service industry need to understand: from the person giving out the service all the way to the customer receiving the service. In the long run, hopefully it will help both sides become a little more educated so the end result is just a great experience.
I have been a part of the service industry since I was 15 years old. I started off bussing tables for the waitresses. Eventually I moved up to waitressing and even bartending. Later on in life, I went to cosmetology school. While the career is completely different, the idea is still the same. Both should excel in customer service, and both usually receive a tip for compensation. However, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Either the service is mediocre or the tip is missing.
From a person that has experienced both sides, here is the many faces of "The Tipper."
The Overly Generous
I once had a client who always tipped 100 percent. His haircuts were $10 (for a cut, wash, hot towel, and shoulder massage) and he never failed to tip at minimum $10. From the second time I cut his hair, I knew who he was. He had stuck in my memory because I was in such awe that I would get such a great tip. We got along well, but one thing was sure, I was guaranteed the $10 tip. Therefore, when he came in, I was on my best behavior. I pulled out all the stops. I made sure he got exceptional service. Then one day he told me his secret. He tipped everybody and he tipped them well!
This man had been successful in his life and money was something he was no longer controlled by. He had plenty of it to spare and felt the need to share. He also wanted to be treated like a king. What he learned was when you tip someone (especially a person not expecting it) and you tip them well, they remember you. The next time they see "The Generous Tipper," their service will go above and beyond what it might have been previously. And there will definitely be a smile on their face to greet them. I can’t say his philosophy about tipping is wrong.
These generous tippers are out there. Some of them do it from the kindness of their heart and to show appreciation for a job well done. Others do it purely to get a reaction. It makes them feel good. Why wouldn’t it. When a person in the service industry has been having a bad day… maybe they got some rude clients, maybe their tips haven’t been too good, or maybe they have a lot of problems in their personal life… this small gesture can completely turn things around.
The most generous tip I ever received was $410. Now you probably think I am lying. Or, you are probably wondering what I did to get such a huge tip. Other than consistently giving outstanding customer service, I did nothing extra. This client just wanted to see my reaction.
During the service, I was discussing some future plans I had been thinking of. I had been discussing these plans for his last four haircuts, but I had never gone through with them, because I didn’t want to spend the extra money. I had been going through some personal finance problems, and even spending a little extra of my hard earned cash was hard for me to do. I knew the money could be used elsewhere and not on a foolish spending spree.
As the service ended, I checked my client out, he gave me his normal $10 tip and was on his way. I bid him a good day and told him, with a wink, to not procrastinate so long for his next hair cut. I went into the back room to sit down and eat my lunch. In the middle of my lunch, one of my coworkers came back and said my client was back and wanted to talk to me. I was wondering what was wrong. I was horrified that I had messed something up.
I walked out and greeted my client. He handed me an envelope. I gave him a look of confusion. I looked into the envelope. Inside were four crisp 100 dollar bills. My mouth dropped open. I was speechless. (And anyone who knows me, knows that is something that doesn’t happen very often!) He walked out with a big smile on his face and my mouth still hanging open. He got the reaction he was looking for.
The next time he came in, I asked him why he gave me such a large tip. He told me he can get a haircut from anybody. After all, he wasn’t that picky and he really didn’t care what was done to his hair as long as it was shorter. But, he found me mildly entertaining and enjoyed my company. He knew I was struggling. He also knew he had the ability to help out a little. So, to make my day, and to make life a little easier, he gave me what will forever be a lasting memory.
The Uneducated Tipper
So often in the service industry, people get frustrated because they run into the occasional person who does not tip. When a person relies on this as part of their income, this can be frustrating, especially if it has happened several times in one day. (And believe me, when the tips are bad, it always happens at the same time!)
Some may think the person is just rude, and while that may be the case some of the times, the other option is the person is uneducated on tipping etiquette. Upon talking to one of my clients, who never tipped, I realized that it stemmed from being uneducated about the topic. He knew it was necessary to tip in a restaurant, but never realized you were supposed to tip your hairstylist. He just happened to catch it because another client was checking out right before him. That day he gave me a tip; the next time he came in, he actually asked me about tipping. He had informed me he was never taught to tip your barber and then wondered what was a decent tip.
Now, tipping etiquette will usually tell you the standard is 15-20% of the bill. Now if the bill is only $10, that only gives the person an extra $1.50 to $2.00. Now that is standard, and I won’t snuff at something especially since it is better than nothing. For me, I believe you should tip better if the service is exceptional. While I couldn’t come straight out and tell this client what he should tip, I did however tell him what the average tip was for the location, and what the range was. In the business I worked in, it could range from nothing all the way up to $10 (or $400, if you remember the above story!) On average, the tip was usually between $3 and $5, but there is always exceptions to the rule.
Now this is not saying the next time you go to see your hairstylist you should use the tipping guide above. Remember, the service I gave only cost $10. The owners wanted to not only make it affordable to the client, but they also wanted the price to be low enough for the client to be more generous to the stylist. The concept worked, most of the time.
However, there are other industries that many of us are not aware that tipping is expected. These service industries might be ones people don’t deal with on a day to day basis, such as parking attendants, housekeepers, musicians in a lounge, movers, a towing service, car detailer, delivery persons… the list can go on and on, but I am sure you get the point. There are several industries out there that rely heavily on tips as part of their income. To make sure you are tipping appropriately, check out proper tipping etiquette guidelines.
Now obviously, you have the ones who are just not aware of tipping in the service industry and then you have those who don’t tip at all. Why - because they don't think they should have to. There are a couple versions of these non-tippers.
The first version is the older generation. Now I am not saying everybody in the older generation doesn’t tip, but you will run into a few that don’t. It isn’t because they don’t have the money or they are living on a strict budget, it isn’t because they are unhappy with the service, it is mostly because they have never tipped before and don’t find it necessary.
When you never had to tip before, changing your habits can be difficult. This is just the way they grew up and the way they know things to work. You can try to tell them, but it will fall on deaf ears. This one is just better to smile and get over it. It really doesn’t matter what you say, it probably won’t change. So, consider your tip the funny stories they tell of days past. They are fun to listen to, and while it does effect your bottom line horribly, it isn’t the end of the world. Most likely, they aren’t going to change. (However, don't use this as an excuse to not tip!)
The other non-tipper is the cranky non-tipper. These are the people that live to complain. Everything you do will be wrong. Nothing every goes good for them. And they will make the entire experience completely painful. They like the negative and don’t ever seem to find joy in a good experience. They thrive off this negativity and more negativity will stem from it.
When I was fairly new to cutting hair, I had a client come in for a haircut. He had a very important business deal and wanted to get cleaned up for “The Million Dollar Event!” Before this particular haircut, he had his head shaved in support of cancer patients. I gave him props for that, but the problem was, he didn’t believe short hair looked as professional. With his instructions, I cut the sides to a number 1 clipper, blended it up and trimmed the top. He wanted to get away from the buzz cut so he wanted to have the scissors used on top. Let me tell you a little secret: his hair hadn’t grown out enough for me to get my fat fingers in enough to cut it. So, I faked it.
Yes, you heard it. I faked it. I didn’t snip a single hair off the top of his head. Upon completion of the service, I asked him how it looked. He yelled at me, demanded the manager and told her how I cut the top too short and it was choppy. She “cleaned” it up and finally he was satisfied, or at least somewhat appeased to finally be on his way.
Throughout the entire haircut, he gave me the numerous amounts of reasons why men hated getting their hair cut. (Which surprised me because most of the clients that came in usually stated how much they loved getting their hair cut!) He complained about everything, including how sunny it was. He was just your typical cranky person you couldn’t please.
After the haircut was finished, and he had grabbed my blow dryer from me to style his own hair, he excused himself to the bathroom before paying to change into his suit for his big meeting. I waited for him at the cash register for 20 minutes. When he finally came out, he seemed alarmed that I would charge him for this service, since I had cut his hair too short. He did not tip.
After he left, I was in tears. After an hour and a half of my time spent on that guy, I wasn’t sure I could handle the hair business. The manager talked to me and let me in on a little secret as well. “Your haircut was perfect! I fake cut the top as well just to please him!” she said.
Moral of the story. Some people are always having a rotten day. They spread it so you have a rotten day too. When you run into these people, just smile. It only makes them hate life more.
The By-The-Rules Tipper
When it comes to tipping, some people always stick to the rules. If the standard is to tip $1, that is what they will tip. If they go to a hairstylist or a restaurant, they will tip 15-20 percent. That is the tipping etiquette and they will not stray from the rules, whether it has been good or bad service. They don’t care. The rules are the rules and they don’t stray.
This is probably a core part of their personality. The are a rule follower and breaking the rules make them feel like they have done something wrong. If they are aware that they should be leaving a tip, they will leave a tip, according to the standard.
Now I am not saying these people won’t voice their opinions. Some of the By The Rules Tippers are the greatest clients. They are one of the first ones that will seek management to praise a job well done. These are also the ones who will be the first to tell someone of a bad job. They will leave the proper amount of tip, but they will also leave a comment as well, whether it is in person or via the companies website. They will either recognize you or throw you down. Either way, they follow the rules doing it.
What's your answer?
What kind of tipper are you?
As you can see, there are many faces of The Tipper. As I said before, it is like having multiple personalities. If you are in the service industry, you may have recognized these different types of tippers. You have grown to love some and others you have learned to deal with.
However, as a person involved in the service industry for most of my life, I will say one thing. Tipping is a big part of the industry. Being part of the service industry can be a great job with many benefits. Yet, it is never ok to lower your standards of customer service based off of the tip (or the tip that you think you will or won’t get!)
As an employee of the service industry, it is up to you to set a standard and set it high. When these people come in for services, they expect you are going to be doing a job. The tip is an added surprise and should never be expected, because you just don’t know what kind of tipper is going to be your customer. With that being said, it still is your job to deliver the services required of you, and if you can’t do it with a smile on your face (even when the tip is lacking) then maybe it is time to get into a different industry.
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