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mkayahara

Rethinking tipping culture

316 posts in this topic

The main issue is that many employers don't know about ACF certification, don't understand it, and/or don't care. If more employers took it seriously, I think there would be more overall respect for the back of the house. -And a lot fewer people faking it back there, too.

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Okay kids. Diplomacy aside.

I hate tipping bad service (incompetence) but having worked and relied on tips myself it is hard not to leave something (10%) even in the worst of situations. The going rate here for wait-staff is still $2.13/hr so to make any decent cash a server or bartender has to hustle. To me it's a skilled profession that many don't take seriously while employed in the industry. I made good money with my best effort even though I couldn't hold a candle to the naturals who raked in the cash. And at one joint I had to tip out up to 52% of my tips to the cooks and bartender. Anyway...

Would/should/do you tip differently when visiting Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada or California? These states do not allow tip credit and have minimum wages higher than federally mandated, so there is less hustle required to make a living. I love living in high-paying, dope-smoking, gay-marrying WA, but I do think that since our minimum wage is so much higher, we in particular should be able to re-think tipping, make it closer to 10% than 20% if we continue the tradition at all.

http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm#.UPRYP-ivWH0

In that gig where you tipped out 52%, did you still manage to make a living? And was it cash flow alone or other factors that led you to leave?

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What concerned me more was the criteria for Sous-Chef status. One criteria was that the applicant must be in a supervisory position--fair enough, I get that, and I agree. Then, on the practical, one criteria is to temp steaks properly. Whoa buddy! You're supervising employees and you have to prove you know how to grill a steak med. rare?????? How can you effectively supervise a grill cook if you yourself can't tell the difference between med-rare and med. well?

Isn't that the point then? If you can't tell the difference, then you can't supervise a grill cook, and therefore you can't be sous-chef.

Uh-huh......AFTER you've (falsely) instructed subordinates to cook "Rare" as medium and "medium" as well done..........

Huh? This doesn't even make sense.

The test is basically saying that to be a sous-chef, you have to be able to do A, B and C. You seem to agree with the premise that a sous-chef needs to be able to temp a steak correctly. But you seem to think that the test should then automatically assume that the person knows how to and therefore shouldn't test it. Or you assume that because the test does test for it that the person doesn't know how.

A test is supposed to ensure that a person knows the material that is required for the subject being tested. If a sous-chef is supposed to know how to temp a steak, then the sous-chef certification exam should test temping a steak.

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O.K. this is getting a bit off topic here however I really want to respond.

The big deal is that a Sous chef has to be in a supervisory position before applying for the test. That means s/he is training and/or supervising subordinates. Agree?

Of course the Sous should know how to temp a steak!!!!!!!!! That much is assumed, just as basic knife skills and butchery are assumed. This (steak temping) should be tested when the applicant was tested as a cook, just like basic knife skills and butchery should be tested for a cook's designation. The Sous position is above a cook's position.

Should an applicant be tested for steak temping and fail-- well then, the question is, what kind of damage did the Sous do to his subordinates before he got caught?

Hey this is N. America here. Ask 10 cooks to make an ommelette, and you'll get 10 different results, from frittatas to doing it on the flat top to egg-cake rolled up like a carpet. In Europe, the procedure is standard anywhere you go: Scrambled eggs in a delicate shell folded over.

See, the European apprenticeship system is based on the "4 t's"

Trained Trainers training the Trainees.

A Chef can't take on an apprentice unless s/he has completed their own apprenticeship. Don't pass the apprenticeship, you don't get the possibility to train subordinates and subsequently don't have the opportunity to instruct "short cuts", or not have the knowledge that the cook you are supervising is doing things the wrong way. (Deep frying raw meat, for example) .

Now, one might argue that qualifications don't mean much, and this may be true.

However, qualifications also mean that the qualified person has no excuse to plead ignorance, they know better, they demonstrated this in their testing.

Take driver's licenses for example. Just because I passed my exam 30 years ago does not guarantee that I won't cruise through a stop sign, or run my high-beams at night in city streets. But I can't plead ignorance if I get caught (and fined). I know better.

It also means that I drive with some level of comfort, knowing that almost every vehicle on the road has the same qualifications, or higher, as I do.

Now compare that with taking your chances driving a car in, uhh.. well, let's just say "another country", the kind where drivers routinely substitute the use of their horn for a brake pedal or signal light, the kind where a driver's license means you just bribed someone and have no idea what a 4-way stop is all about. More than likely they don't know better.

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If the whole idea of tipping is not To Insure Proper Service, but rather to provide a living wage (which is itself relative), then it sounds like those who dislike tipping think we should end the practice and pay servers a straight minumum wage. This will drive up costs for the owner, most likely resulting in one or more server losing his job and the remaining servers making less money and/or possibly working fewer hours.

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Here in the UK restaurant staff have to be paid the full minimum wage net of any tips. The employers is not allowed to use the tips to make up the wage.

We now have creeping in a service charge of 10-15% which the owners are probably using to make up the money they would claw back from tips. It is supposed to be optional, but us non-confrontational Brits will rarely ask for it to be removed unless the food or service has been particularly bad.

I would guess however, that may diners think the service charge is a tip replacement, but generally it goes to the company.

Personally I would prefer the price of the food to be gross, so it is easier to judge value for money, then if I have a good experience, I can leave a tip.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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Hah. Even the American practice of tipping is culturally seeping its way across the globe. I wonder if this practice exists in Asia.

It has struck me that all this talk of certification would be beneficial for career servers also. They are where the rubber meets the road when it comes down to tipping. As the US has transitioned to a service economy over the last couple decades it only makes sense to have required certifications to engage in service.

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If the whole idea of tipping is not To Insure Proper Service, but rather to provide a living wage (which is itself relative), then it sounds like those who dislike tipping think we should end the practice and pay servers a straight minumum wage. This will drive up costs for the owner, most likely resulting in one or more server losing his job and the remaining servers making less money and/or possibly working fewer hours.

Annabelle, no one is talking minimum wage. Heck even the cooks are making a bit more than that. A decent wage, yes, but not as low as minimum.

This is why I'm talking about certification and/or qualifications, it's one of the factors that's based on how many of the other trades pay their people. Other factors include working experience, related skills (computer, book keeping, etc.) and "people skills". No one wants an employee who can't get along with the others. But qualifications is one of the big factors.

What qualifications does a server need in a place that sells $10-$15 entrees with no alcohol?

What qualifications does a server need for fine dining with an extensive wine list?

What qualifications does a server need for a breakfast place?

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I made good money with my best effort even though I couldn't hold a candle to the naturals who raked in the cash.

......most likely resulting in one or more server losing his job and the remaining servers making less money and/or possibly working fewer hours.

And civilization as we know it will continue to exist even if servers rake in slightly less cash. I'm sure all those unemployed servers will have no problem finding work, with their highly valuable skill sets and all.

But seriously, Australia and Europe still seem to function, and the restaurant industry is alive and well in states that pay servers above the federal minimum wage. What are the people who resist change so afraid of?


Edited by pastrygirl (log)

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Who is resisiting change? I submit it is the servers who don't want to work for minimum wages.

You said yourself, pastrygirl, that you enjoy your high-paying city/state. We aren't a homogenous country, we are a vast land of 300M+ souls with 48 contiguous states with thousands of counties and tens of thousands of cities, towns and villages. Blanket policy making and harrumphing about it isn't going to change anything. Frankly, I would prefer to leave policy decisions to those people in those cities, states, and towns and their citizens to do as they see fit.

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Are you using 'minimum wages' to mean a set hourly wage? We all agree that it would be nice if everyone managed to make a living at whatever job they choose, whatever the cost of living in a certain area is. We can't seem to agree on what a server should make on an hourly basis. And yes, I agree that servers prefer working for tips, because of the possibility of "raking in cash" in large amounts.

The lack of homogeneity is indeed a problem, because the culture of tipping in this country does not respond to it. The expectation that a diner should tip 15-20% does not change from state to state even though base wages do. It doesn't change from city to rural or in any other way. Diners are trapped.

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Who is resisiting change? I submit it is the servers who don't want to work for minimum wages.

You said yourself, pastrygirl, that you enjoy your high-paying city/state. We aren't a homogenous country, we are a vast land of 300M+ souls with 48 contiguous states with thousands of counties and tens of thousands of cities, towns and villages. Blanket policy making and harrumphing about it isn't going to change anything. Frankly, I would prefer to leave policy decisions to those people in those cities, states, and towns and their citizens to do as they see fit.

Standing ovation.

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Servers who live and work in destination cities and resort spots are going to make more money than do servers who work at a steakhouse or pancake house in flyover country. Minimum wages (set by the by the federal government) aren't meant to be a living wage, they are specifically for unskilled entry level jobs. The raising of minimum wages forces the job market to contract resulting in the loss of jobs.

I don't see the lack of homogeneity as a problem. People have different ideals and beliefs and ways of living in different parts of the country. This isn't a bad thing. It is an American thing. The very people who whine and bitch about the homogeneity of fast food and dining experiences are now complaining that the custom of tipping differs in different parts of our great land.

It is what it is and that's all that it is.

(Thanks, Sigma.)


Edited by annabelle (log)

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I don't see the lack of homogeneity as a problem. People have different ideals and beliefs and ways of living in different parts of the country. This isn't a bad thing. It is an American thing. The very people who whine and bitch about the homogeneity of fast food and dining experiences are now complaining that the custom of tipping differs in different parts of our great land.

As far as I can tell, the custom of tipping does not differ in different parts of the country, the custom of tipping 15-20% is the same across America. How would you say it differs? The custom, the expectation/obligation of the diner, not the money taken in by the server.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Thanks for the clarification.

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

Any idea how to stop it?

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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.

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