Yaneek Page | Tipping your barber, hairdresser
Jamaica does not have a tip culture, which, in some cases, is unfortunate.
There are several categories of service providers, including hairdressers, barbers, nail technicians, and even gas station pump attendants, who deserve to earn tips when they deliver exceptional service.
A tip or gratuity is defined by the Cambridge English dictionary as "a small amount of money for someone who has provided you with a service in addition to the official amount for their personal use" or "an amount of money given as a reward for a service".
Last week, I had the opportunity to defend the $2,000 my hairdresser charges for the most basic service, shampoo and set, and went further to make the case for why many hairdressers and barbers deserve to charge more and earn a tip.
In our society, where financial literacy or introduction to financial management are still not mandatory subjects taught to children in school, and worse yet to adults in college, it is essential that we continuously sensitise consumers to the reality of cost versus price.
I was compelled to mount my defence on this issue on social media after I made my usual weekend post in support of small businesses:
"I love my hair dresser! Set an appointment for 8 am & at 7:57 she was ready for full service. Salon spotless, AC cool, @Smilejamtv on TV. Chilling under the dryer. Central, safe location & only $2k for shampoo & set. #SmallBusinessSaturday".
I was amazed that such a post could stir any controversy even as it regards price. To be clear, I understand that price has context, that is, what some may find inexpensive others may find exorbitant, depending on factors such as target market, location, perceived value, and other factors.
However, when a social media user scoffed "$2000 just to wash your hair and dry it?", I recognised that she, like many other consumers I've heard express similar sentiments in relation to the price of services, didn't consider the inputs that go into operating a business or delivering a service. It is the Achilles heel for many micro and small-business enterprises because their prospects, customers, and even some tax representatives don't appreciate the universe of inputs and expenses required in the most basic of operations.
THE UNIVERSE OF COSTS
I tried my best to capture the key elements in my hairdresser's universe within my 280 character limit.
"Actually, she first had to go to beauty school, get work experience, save, buy equipment & products, pay rent, maintenance, KSAC, JPS, NWC, Digicel, then advertise before she could take a robot taxi to open the salon at 7:50am on Saturday for her 1st appointment #Entrepreneurship".
My list just scratched the surface. The critical point I hope readers will appreciate is that before licensed hairdressers, for example, open the doors of their salon to provide a customer with a service, they would have invested a considerable amount of time and resources upfront, and also have myriad of fixed and variable expenses, which must be factored into how they charge for services rendered.
To delve even deeper, my hairdresser, who operates from the Winchester Business Centre in Kingston, is subject to the Kingston and St Andrew Public Health Regulations 2004, under which barbers, barbershops, hairdressers, beauty therapists, cosmetologists, and beauty salons are required to be licensed by KSAC or face penalties. On the website ksamc.gov.jm it also notes that "any person who contravenes the provision of the regulations shall be liable to a summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate, who determines the fine".
A KSAMC representative outlined the requirements for the aforementioned licensing via telephone, which I've listed below:
1. Submit an application form to the KSAC, which must be accompanied by the requisite health certificate, two attested photographs of the applicant, a certificate of copy of the relevant certificate or diploma granted from a professional training institution;
2. Make payment: $5,000 for unisex salons, $4,000 for barber or hair salon only;
3. Thereafter, pay an annual fee of $3,500;
4. Submit payment receipt to the Public Health Department;
5. Sit the requisite test at the Public Health Department; and
6. Await accreditation from the Public Health Department. The Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health will then visit the premises to conduct an examination and assessment of the property before granting a certificate. The facility must have: clean and appropriate structure at location; running water; and sanitary and bathroom facilities.
On the next visit to your hairdresser or barber, let them know that you appreciate their service, and, if you can, tip them for a job well done.