Insted of fumbling around doing math or leaving the barbershop wondering if you gave enough bills for gratuity, why not man up and learn how to be an excellent tipper? There’s a real art to tipping the people who serve you. Those who tip well, we discovered, often enjoy unspoken perks in return that the less generous rarely.

“Although not required,” says Erika Preval, CEO and founder of Charm Etiquette in Atlanta, “gratuities should always be considered when receiving services that improve your lifestyle, especially when an accommodation such as squeezing in a last-minute appointment request or creating a special style, is performed.”

Preval says offering a $5 tip is appropriate for a regularly scheduled appointment, but you might increase the tip to $20 or 20 percent of your particular service during the holiday season.

In the United States, it’s standard for clients or customers to pay an additional 15 to 20 percent on their bill as a tip for dining experiences as well as services such as facials, haircuts and massages.

We wanted more scoop on the art of tipping for a cut, so we ended up in the barber’s chair (and boy, did we hear tales of a few good tippers):

Faheem Alexander

Owner of Faheem’s Hands of Precision, Philadelphia

How many years have you been a professional barber? 17 years

Thoughts on tips? I get tips every day. There’s nothing wrong with tipping. Tipping is very important. It’s common courtesy. There’s no limit on tipping. People give what they can afford. It’s very important because we can get a $100 and then add it up and you have your child’s tuition.

What if a client doesn’t have tip money? There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. “I’ll go to the store to get you something to drink.” That could be the form of tipping.

Clients per day? Average 8 but 10 to 12 on a busy day

What’s a considered a high tip? $15 or $20. That’s someone who’s well off. I came to work early for someone who had a business meeting, 7 or 8 in the morning. So I received a $20 tip.

How do you get a good tip? Hospitality is definitely important if you want a great tip. Being nice to clients. Prompt. Making them feel good about themselves generates tips. Tips come in many forms, not just money.

Manny Koop

Owner of Lake Street Barbering Co., Chicago

How many years as a barber? About 15 years

What does getting a tip mean to you? The clients don’t have to tips us. What a tip does? They will get whatever they want next time.  Tipping is not necessary, but it gets you an awful lot of leeway.

Other types of non-cash tips you’ve received? Someone calls in on a Friday for a cut and they bring a nice lunch. Some bring Bull tickets or Bears tickets or a nice bottle of Scotch. Barbers? We’ve been bartering for years.

What’s the best cash tip you’ve ever received? I’ve had a number of guys drop $100 on me. One day a client asked me, “What was the biggest tip I’ve ever gotten?” I said, “One hundred dollars.” So he gave me $200.

What’s the best non-cash tip? When I was working at another shop before we opened Lake Street, I cut a guy and I went to his office and cut him. I wanted to ask if he wanted to invest in our shop. He straight up told me no. “You come to my office and set out a half hour or hour, and we’ll talk.” To this day, we’re still friends. I know every time I have 30 minutes of time with a millionaire. I asked business questions and got advice. That’s worth more than money right there. I’ve been cutting his hair for at least 10 years.

How many clients do you see a day? At least 10

Do tips matter more than, say, respect? As long as you come in here and treat us with respect and don’t talk down to us, that’s what matters. Tipping is not necessary, and basically if you want to be in, it’s necessary.


Words by Marques Harper