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Rethinking tipping culture


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#91 annabelle

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 06:12 PM

The custom itself may not differ. Diners are not obligated to tip although it is considered poor manners not to tip a little something. Some people are generous, some people are penny-pinchers. My post was speaking more to what it is that servers are looking for in terms of income and the factors that are at work in determining the value of a minimum wage versus the wages that are common in the city/state in which one works plus tips.

#92 pastrygirl

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

I can only speak for myself, but I certainly feel like it is expected and an obligation in the US, not a matter of leaving a little something out of generosity. I'll work on getting over that :smile:

#93 Edward J

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

Ummm, if any of you saw the video link that was posted on the first post of this thread, the speaker states that a lot of people tip out of guilt. He also states that tipping is discriminatory, in that servers will "Case out" the guest and automatically judge the tip by using the following criteria:

-Sex, men tip better than women
-Race
-Age
-Families, or couples, or tour groups

Myself, I've noticed servers pre-judging guests on "accesories"-- purses, and shoes.

#94 annabelle

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:39 PM

That's called cherry-picking. People do it all the time in all lines of work wherein one deals with the public.

#95 jrshaul

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:25 PM

That's called cherry-picking. People do it all the time in all lines of work wherein one deals with the public.


And it's why I don't shop at places that pay on commission.

#96 Edward J

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:13 AM

So you

That's called cherry-picking. People do it all the time in all lines of work wherein one deals with the public.


So you endorse it, then?

#97 annabelle

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:15 AM

I am sorry you have had a bad experience with commisioned salesmen, but there is no need for you to be prejudiced against them all. Cherry picking is discouraged wherever there is good management. I certainly didn't stand for it when I was managing any of my dealerships. Commisioned sales people will be better trained than are persons who work for wages. The manufacturers I worked for demanded that every sales representative be thoroughly trained about our products and were sent to seminars and new product proto-type unveilings.

I must say to EdwardJ, that many moons ago when I was a waitress, we were also trained. We had a dress code and a code of conduct. We were disciplined if we did wrong and made the store look bad. We were taught to upsell. BOH has always been a rougher environment than FOH. Yes, formal training wasn't the rule back in the 70s for cooks. Their learning was more OJT (on the job training) and they began from the dishroom and worked their way up. Times change and so has the way the BOH works and for the better.

#98 Edward J

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 05:20 PM

I'm not talking about commissioned salespeople, I'm talking about servers who, as you state, are "cherry picking". I'm still unsure if you endorse this or not, you post doesn't tell me much.

See, I've noticed a lot of "spats" between hostesses or even owners and servers regarding which guests go to whose stations. For some reason no wants the two-top of little old ladies, but everyone wants the 6-top of business men.

There is a pretty big difference between a server and a commissioned sales person in a computer shop or car dealership. Once a guest is seated in a restaurant, the odds are pretty much in favour that that table will order something. Odds are 50/50 or even lower in a computer shop etc. that the customer will buy something.

#99 annabelle

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 05:51 PM

I do not endorse cherry picking and would discipline any employees who were caught doing it. One person's money spends the same as another's and the employees work for the employer, not the other way round. If there is an unclear definition of who does what, then a staff meeting is in order. Certainly, none of this should be taking place on the floor in front of guests and other staff.

Quite obviously, EdwardJ, commissioned sales and waiting tables is not an apples to apples comparison. I was answering two posts in one.

#100 Edward J

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:14 PM

Thanks for the clarification.

However, this practice is very, very common in restaurants, particularily in N. America.

Any idea how to stop it?

#101 annabelle

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:56 PM

Staff needs to have a clear idea of the parameters of their job. Like every other job in which the wellbeing of the business is dependent on the face it presents to the public, the staff needs to have a set of rules presented to them by the management at the time of hire. These rules should be written up by the owner(s) who have consulted with management and be subject to review and revision as needed. Employees should be presented with a copy of an employee handbook and made to sign off that they have read and understand the rules as outlined in the handbook. Disciplining employees should be laid out in this handbook, as well, such as what constitutes a firing offense versus a warning.

Staff meetings should take place a minimum of once a week in which to go over menu changes/additions. In these meetings there should also be a time when the employees may discuss problems and for managers to offer praise or corrections. Employees who know they are always free to come to you to discuss problems or to make suggestions for addition or deletion of menu items or the way the floor is being run are happy employees who feel pride in their work and a sense of ownership in the business' success.

Don't be afraid to listen, but always be firm about whose business it is and who is the owner. Tyrannical behavior will cause a huge amount of turnover while being a pushover will cost the store business.

#102 Edward J

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:54 PM

Sounds interesting.

Problem is, after working 30 odd years in the biz, It never really works. Mind you, I only see things from the kitchen.

See, bullies pick on little kids because they can. Scam artists pick on seniors because they can. Yes, it's both illegal and immoral, but it happens all the time. It happens because they can do it.

Tell a server s/he has to take a table when they know it won't tip well and stuff happens. You can have all the meetings you want, and sign off on any document you want, but when a server realizes they won't make the perceived sum of tips, they leave. They leave because they can, and they know that they can make better tips at other places. You can't fight this, no signature on a document will change anything, they'll just quit. I've seen this happen so many times. It's a fact of life, young attractive servers will jump ship at a moment's notice when tips dry up, or when the grass is greener at a new place just opening up. Same for mature, well experienced servers. The hospitality industry has one of the shortest employment periods, typically under 6 mths.

True, some places have a common tip pot, where it is "illegal" for any server to pocket tips, it all has to go into the pot and later be distributed. You can make this clear at interviewing time, and will find that the majority of applicants will fail to take interest in the interview afterwards. This is one of the main reasons that so few restaurants are doing tip sharing.

#103 annabelle

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 08:45 PM

I didn't like pooling tips when I was a waitress. I was very good: efficient, attentive and took excellent care of my tables. There are always one or more servers who spend most of their time loafing, flirting with the other staff and eating on the clock. It pissed me off to have to share with them. As far as balky waitstaff goes; let them quit. There are hundreds more where they came from and refuse to give them a decent recommendation if they just walk on you.

While it's not the same thing exactly, I went through this a lot with salesmen, particularly the middling ones who had worked at other places and figured they could push me around because I am a woman. They got let go, too because there are always plenty of newbies who actually want to work.

You asked me what to do about balky waitstaff. I told you and then you told me it won't work. I really don't know what else to tell you. Restaurants draw a lot of young people, alcoholics, burn-outs, slackers, wanna-be actors and people looking for transient work. You have to play the hand you're dealt and sometimes you're trying to fill an inside straight.

#104 Pierogi

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:37 PM

*SNIPPITY....* We were taught to upsell. *.....MORE snippity*

This. THIS is why I loath, absolutely LOATH commissioned salespeople.

As a consumer, with a very limited budge, I KNOW, believe me I know in painful detail, to the penny, how much I can afford to spend on whatever purchase I'm considering; car, computer, cell phone, house, whatever. I've crunched the numbers, I know where I can skrimp and cut to make it work. I also know what features I absolutely must have in that commodity (heated seats, not so much, I live in SoCal, air conditioning, an absolute for the same reason). Don't pressure me into whizz-bangs I'll never use. Don't tell me that it'll only add up to pennies a day extra----I already have *PLANS* for those extra pennies.

I'm sorry that people have to work on commission. It must suck, but I will go out of my way not to patronize them. It's why my last 2 cars have been Saturns. No haggling. No upselling. It was wonderful. I don't know what I'll do when my little red wagon dies.....

And it's also why I avoid restaurants that agressively upsell me (would you like foie on that......maybe some truffle.....oh, THIS cabernet is much superior to the one you've chosen) like the plague. If I actually HAD the extra coin to spring for the foie, or the truffle, or the $250 bottle of cab, believe me I would. But get out of my face if I can't.

Edited by Pierogi, 16 January 2013 - 10:40 PM.

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#105 annabelle

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:44 PM

I was talking about waiting tables in that comment you snipped, Pierogi.

Hating salespeople? That's rather aggressive, don't you think? They're just working for a living like everyone else and it is hard work and not dishonest as is often portrayed in the media and anecdotes.

#106 radtek

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:51 PM

Servers and Bartenders are sales-people. If a tip ain't a commission then what is it.

#107 annabelle

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:01 AM

Exactly.

#108 Edward J

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:37 AM

Yeah-butt...

You don't tip the guy who just sold you $300.00 worth of computer stuff, do you?

#109 radtek

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 10:07 AM

I tipped my broker last month. He probably didn't realize that is what I did but he has been doing a lot of work for my estate without compensation. So I felt a little commission was in order.

#110 annabelle

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 10:27 AM

All salespeople, regardless of the rhetoric put out by their employers (cf. Saturn) receive a commission on sales. Employees of companies who tout to the public that they don't negotiate, that their salesmen receive no commissions are telling a pack of lies. The salespeople are paid a flat commission on each sale. You could starve to death selling Saturns and it is part and parcel of the company's demise. No one with any talent or ambition was going to work there.

Computers, jewelry, and furniture all have huge mark-ups, many times as much as 300x costs. The same is true of medical equipment and restaurant equipment. In restaurants we are talking from stoves to refrigeration units to table linens, glassware and artwork. Yet people do not insist that their doctor, dentist, broker, jeweler or restaurantuer is screwing them over.


Waiting tables is a sales job, as is bartending. Restaurant employees receive their commissions/tips in cash at time of sale, whereas persons selling big ticket items such as homes, vehicles, medical equipment, et al will be paid when a lender funds the contract.

#111 Edward J

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

Yeah-butt......

Say I went out shopping for a brand new luxury car. Honest Ed has it for 70 grand, and Honest Fred has it for 69 grand, same car, same option package, same colour. Obviously I'll go with Fred, or if I really like Ed, I could tell him that I can get it for a thousand cheaper and to match Fred's price. The thousand dollar difference is in the commission, and I'd be a fool not to take the cheaper price, right?

But in a restaurant, if the server get's screwed over his/her tip, it's a bad thing, socially unacceptable.

#112 annabelle

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:11 PM

It's not in the commission. Commission is paid on the gross profit of the unit sold, usually 20%.

Servers are tipped on the total check including tax, usually 20%.

We can do this all night.

#113 Edward J

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 11:00 PM

So then is a tip commission or not?

#114 ScoopKW

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:17 AM

I say it is a commission. Servers in the US are not very different from car salesmen -- they make a pittance of salary/hourly wage and must sell in order to make a decent living. The good ones upsell without being pushy.

"Chef fired the new harvest of scallops for us before we opened. And let me tell you, it was the sweetest scallop I've ever tasted." Or, "We just got the first legal kobe ribeyes that were imported into the US. They're not on the menu yet. But we have six available."

That sort of thing. When done right, the server is your "buddy," giving you insider info about the menu. When done wrong, business suffers.
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#115 CharlieHorse

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 08:29 PM

Back when I waited tables, I used to tip out the kitchen if they did anything special, like hurrying an order that I forgot to send back or make something special. When I moved to the kitchen in a different restaurant, I would frequently put on a clean jacket and apron and check on the customer myself and the wait staff appriciated this. Sometimes they would tip me out, sometimes the customer would tip me, but that's not why I did it. I did it because it was importent to me that people eating the food that I worked hard to make were enjoying it. In fact, I would say that was my favorite part of the job.

#116 Rainee

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 09:09 PM

The tipping system is not good; it's broken.  But it's the standard across the US, and I know I'm not going to be the first guy to move away from it if all my competitors are using it.

 

As an owner, it allows me to pay lower wages to tipped employees based on the assumption that they will make it up in tips.  I think it would be better for everyone if I just paid a higher wage and eliminated tips, but of course I would have to raise all the prices to afford that, and like I said I'm not going to be the first guy to take that plunge.  Even though tipping is assumed and most people calculate it into the cost of the meal, there is still a certain psychological shock from opening a menu and seeing all the prices 20% higher than equivalent restaurants in the area.  Maybe one of the big chains could pull it off, but it would be suicide for an independent operator.

 

Is it fair that tipped service employees usually end up making a lot more than BOH staff?  Maybe not, but it's not totally open and shut.

BOH is a harder job most of the time, no doubt about it.  But it's an assembly line job.  You don't interact with customers.  The people who interact with the customers need to be the most motivated to smile, be attentive and pleasant, and provide a great experience.  The people putting food on the plates need to turning out a consistent product for an entire shift.  They are different kinds of people, motivated by different things.

 

And if we're going to have tips, having them as a percentage of the check is not necessarily crazy.  The more high end the restaurant, the more FOH people actually contribute to your service (and from what I know almost every high end place has some form of tip pooling or tipping out.)  The $80 you tip on a $400 dinner is getting split up between your waiter, the host, the sommelier, at least one busser/runner, maybe a bartender.  Granted, the waitress at a diner probably works hard and I think for checks below a certain amount you should throw the percentage scale out the window and just leave a decent amount.  But you are getting more service (hopefully better) from more people at a fine dining restaurant.



#117 Edward J

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 08:58 AM

...BOH is a harder job most of the time, no doubt about it.  But it's an assembly line job.  You don't interact with customers.  The people who interact with the customers need to be the most motivated to smile, be attentive and pleasant, and provide a great experience.  The people putting food on the plates need to turning out a consistent product for an entire shift.  They are different kinds of people, motivated by different things.

 

And if we're going to have tips, having them as a percentage of the check is not necessarily crazy.  The more high end the restaurant, the more FOH people actually contribute to your service (and from what I know almost every high end place has some form of tip pooling or tipping out.)  The $80 you tip on a $400 dinner is getting split up between your waiter, the host, the sommelier, at least one busser/runner, maybe a bartender.  ....

And with this, the great "apartheit" begins.  Sales will always earn more than production, always has, always will.  Thing is, the tip is a percentage of the entire dining experience, and although the server works very hard, they are not responsible for the entire dinining experience.  True, the $80 tip may be split between the server, the host, the sommelier, busboy, and bar tender.  But wait a minute, who else is providing for the dining experience?

 

Why is it that in the media, patrons are always depicted leaving the server a fat tip and instructing the server to "give my compliments to the Chef"?

 

Currently the tip is a percentage of the entire dining experience.  That should change.  



#118 annabelle

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 11:13 AM

My God.  Are we still beating this dead horse?



#119 ScoopKW

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 01:10 PM

Apparently, until there is no tipping at all, the debate will continue.


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#120 PSmith

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:46 AM

As a Brit and a frequent visitor to the States, the US tipping culture is a bit turn off for us and many of our friends.  Oddly enough we were discussing this the other week over dinner.

 

I am going to be spending a whole month in the US next year and I will probably (as per previous visits) be looking at buying food in the supermarket to eat in my hotel most evenings rather than faff about in a diner or restaurant.  The most we will tip in the UK is 10% - sales tax is included.  So often in the US (especially when we are on a budget) we have ended up spending so much more than the menu listings and what started off as good value, becomes an expensive meal out.

 

However, the above may be compounded by the poor exchange rate our £s are getting against the $ America has become expensive for us in the UK.


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