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Rethinking tipping culture


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If restaurants quietly raised their prices 20% and paid their servers a living wage, that would end this "problem" immediately. I'd certainly be in favor of that. Then of course you'd get the tightwads who miss the "good ol' days" of stiffing their server to save money in restaurants.

And you might also get the servers who miss the "good ol' days" when they often went home with several hundred dollars cash in their pockets.

This issue simply is not so obvious as some would believe. There definitely are a great many servers that like the system just fine as it is.

You can't go raising prices up by 20% without some kind of justification, or no one--customers, employers, and employees won't buy into it. You need a system of benchmarks and qualifications to justify and keep the 20% mark-up specifically for service labour costs, and they (benchmarks) have to be on a graduating scale.

For instance, it would be a very tough sell for a lunch (or breakfast) place that specializes in the $10-$20.00 bill/check per person to add a 20% increase for service. And you can forget about fast-food burger joints. The server does not need extensive--if any, wine/liquor knowledge, formal place setting knowledge, or extensive cooking and ingredient knowledge, as compared toa fine dining place.

As I've stated before in this thread and others, you need a graduated set of benchmarks for servers, I.e. Server I qualification with no previous experience, Server II that requries X hours of previous experience and a basic wine/liquor knowledge, and Server III qualification, that builds on the last two qualifications and would probably be a pre-requisite for a Maitre D' position.

But hey, all this would be trade infrastructure, and the N. American Hospitality biz is notoriously bad for not having any trade infrastructure. If anyone can call themselves a Chef, if any school can call it's gradutes "chefs", then what's the criteria for a server?

I missed this when it was first posted. Restaurants OFTEN use excuses for raising their prices and it has NOTHING to do with how much they pay their personnel. Prices at some "upscale" chain restaurants vary with location and by state.

A local restaurant upped their prices when they installed two new big screen TVs, for "sports" programs, even though more than half their clientele filled out "suggestion" cards that indicated they were interested in having a peaceful MEAL, not having to listen to sports fanatics yelling because of what was happening in the game.

They lost a significant amount of business and now there is ONE TV in the Bar/lounge and none in the two dining rooms. Some of their customers have returned but others found other places and are satisfied. They also lost banquet business because one of the TVs was mounted on a common wall with the banquet room. Really, really stupid idea...

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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How about some brave restaurateur raising their prices by 15%, but making it very clear (Large letters at the TOP of their menu) that this increase will ALL go to the servers. Along side the raised price menu they could have the old prices, but make it clear that tipping was not included in those prices.

Let customers decide which price they wanted to pay. Customers could even add something to the tip included menu if they felt so inclined.

This isn't so different to the common practice of adding 15% or more to the meal price for larger groups for 'service'.

I know which priced menu I'd go for.

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I think Aesop had a fable about ''belling the cat''. No restauranteur will be brave enough to do that.

There is a reason that N.American car mnfctrs finally went to unleaded gasoline, put in seatbelts, and follow safety and fuel effeciency standards. There is a reason why the public has a great distrust of oil companies who set their own enviromental standards and police them, same for pipeline companies, and probably the same for financial institutions stock brokers,and day traders.

You need an impartial body to set standards and police them. If you don't, you have "tipping wages'' for servers, total disregard for minimum wages for servers, culinary schools going haywire, etc.

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talking with someone I know who has been a server, there can be some weird things happen in places that have a tipping out policy . where they worked, Tipping out was calculated total sales that server had that night at a set % but if one large party stiffs on the tip it can turn around so that a server actually owes more for tipping out for the shift than what they took in. I had been of the mistaken understanding that tipping out was just a percentage of the tips taken in not that it was a percentage of total sales x 15 % . I could see how this kind of thing could really cause friction between front and back of house.

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Oy, Edward. If you think government is "impartial", you need to get out more.

Edward lives in a more reasonable country than we do.

Edited by ScoopKW (log)
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Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I guess ignoring the minimum wage and implementing a "tipping wage" of under $3.00/hr is "impartial" as well.

No one is holding the hospitality organizations (the ones who lobbied and got "tipping wages" in the first place) accountable. Who will?

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I guess ignoring the minimum wage and implementing a "tipping wage" of under $3.00/hr is "impartial" as well.

No one is holding the hospitality organizations (the ones who lobbied and got "tipping wages" in the first place) accountable. Who will?

Nobody. The NRA (the Restaurant Association, not the gun NRA), shovels money at our legislators to keep the status quo. Nobody in Washington is going to do anything unless it 1) jibes with their ideologically-pure belief system; and 2) nets them the maximum donation into their campaign fund.

And into this toxic mix that is the US government, you want to add a certification system for restaurant staff? Please. We suffer enough already.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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That was an excellent article.

But I maintain that an America without it's tip culture is as attainable as an America without it's gun culture.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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  • 9 months later...

Well looks like Noodles & Co will be on my list of establishments to visit in the US when I am wanting something "chainy" 

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2590823/Please-DO-NOT-tip-waiter-Noodle-restaurant-implements-unusual-gratuity-policy-respect-does-not-cost-anything.html

http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

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

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Well looks like Noodles & Co will be on my list of establishments to visit in the US when I am wanting something "chainy" 

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2590823/Please-DO-NOT-tip-waiter-Noodle-restaurant-implements-unusual-gratuity-policy-respect-does-not-cost-anything.html

 

Glad they (Noodles & Co) made the move to get rid of tipping.

 

Nevertheless, I hope you have better food than I have had on my visits to the local franchisees in my area.  I tried a few different places in the hope that the 1st time was a fluke, to see if they deserved another chance etc (at least for my taste) and I had to conclude that for me, personally, they served some of the most regrettable (and confusion**-type) food around.  But others may have had good experiences.

 

** versus 'fusion'.

 

------------

 

I have not studied the entire thread carefully and a search for "Next" did not turn up what I was looking for - so, I might comment that various restaurants, usually higher-end ones, have moved to the "ticket" system.  No doubt most of the folks on eG know about this quite well?  If so and it has been discussed then my apologies. 

 

For those who do not know of this, Next Restaurant (and after that, places like Alinea and a few others, I think) in Chicago instituted a prepaid ticket system with online-only transactions whereby the entire cost of the meal (food, drinks, all applicable taxes, mandatory "service charge") is prepaid by the intending diner for a meal at a certain time on a certain day.  When you come to the restaurant you eat your meal then get up and go.  No further money or financial transactions cross the table and no "tipping" is done at the end of the meal.  It's like buying a ticket to a concert or a show.  It is non-refundable, and if you don't show up you lose your money.  You are free to sell it (in the approved manner) to someone else, of course, or to give it to someone else to use with "transfer of ownership" notification to the restaurant.  In recent times other restaurants are adopting this system too, with mixed receptions from the dining public.

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  • 3 weeks later...

 I work BOH in France, but lived and worked in the USA for 20 years, all BOH.

 

 Servers here are  paid the same rate as cooks, ( at least where I work) their pay is relevant to the responsibilities they have, the amount of time with the organization, and  the position they hold.  Customers do tip small amounts, but over a month it adds up. All tips go to the house and at the end of the month the house doles out the tips evenly to all staff who are non management.

 I t has been a few years since I was in the USA so I do not know the pay rates any more, but here ( fine dining)   a CDP earns about 20-28k euros a year (as an FYI rents around here for a 2 bed house are 3-450 a month) so not too shabby, a server makes the same amount.

 What I have seen is that Staff tend to stay longer, as they have more security in their work. We run a Brigade system both BOH and FOH and that also helps.

 The American system works well for America, but IMHO does lead to more short term thinking on both the employer and employees behalf. We can plan staff education in the fairly sure knowledge that they will be here 6 months from now. All of this is of course helped by the  French employment legislation which requires a written contract of employment, and makes it very difficult ,if not impossible to fire staff., 

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  • 3 months later...

Q: "Do they [the restaurant industry] have a point when they say that an increase in the minimum wage will mean a cut in service and higher costs?"

A: "Well, these are their two primary arguments: one, that it will kill jobs, two, that it will make the cost of food go up. So on that first one, killing jobs. There are actually seven states in the United States that have the same wage for tipped and non-tipped workers. They range from somewhere around $8.00 and $9.50 an hour. You can go to California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Minnesota. All seven states have faster industry growth rates than the restaurant industry nationally. And in fact, we recently did a regression, looked at the states with the higher minimum wages for tipped workers, we found that they have higher sales per capita in the restaurant industry.

"So we would argue that evidence shows that you could actually do better as an industry, faster industry growth, more jobs, if you treat your workers better. On that second argument that the cost of food will go up. We used USDA methodology. And we applied the current bill that's moving through Congress to every worker along the food chain, from farm workers, to meat and poultry processing workers, to restaurant workers. And we assume that every employer along the food chain would pass on 100 percent of the cost of the wage increase to their purchaser. The title of the report is “A Dime a Day", because it would cost the average American household at most $0.10 more for all food bought outside the home. That's groceries and restaurants alike. So we're talking pennies more on your hamburger when you eat out, for 30 million workers to come out of poverty.

Q: "But what do you say to the small-business owner, who says “Gee I run a very small place, we-- our waiters depend upon the tips at the counter. We just can't afford it. We'd go out of business if you require us to raise their wages."

A: "I would say a couple of things. First of all, you as a small business, you are actually being cheated by these very large corporations that are running the show, setting the standards, raking in millions of profits and screwing you by getting away with very-- you know-- very, very large, high-volume business and setting standards that require you to have to pay for very high rates of turnover. Our industry has the highest rates of employee turnover of any industry in the United States. I would say-- I can point you to plenty of small businesses around the country that actually pay their workers a livable wage and have managed to cut their turnover in half, in some cases, completely out, because they treat their workers well.

"I would also say that nobody's expecting you to change your wages overnight. We're talking about policies that would phase in a minimum wage increase. A minimum wage increase for both your servers and the back of the house. But the last and most important thing I would say is this: no customer in America believes when they leave a tip that they are leaving a wage for a worker. Nobody believes that they're paying a wage. People think they're paying a tip on top of a wage. We don't think about this in any other context except restaurants. We believe somehow that because they're getting tips, they shouldn't get a wage. It's not true in any other context. And that is because of the power of this industry."

http://billmoyers.com/episode/all-work-and-no-pay/

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I'm no defender of the US tipping policy, but Moyers (as usual) only gives half of the story. Certainly the minimum wage for servers is crazy low...and tipping is variable, but the fact that there actually are servers working in restaurants indicates that they are making enough money to stay in that job.

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$2.13 per hour + tips is "enough money to stay in that job".

Okay.

Well, it must be enough money for them to keep at the job because observation indicates that the servers are there and working.

 

Unless its just a hobby for them.

 

Would they like to do better? Sure. Is the current system stupid? Absolutely.

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Lets think through what a server might make at a diner.  8 hours x $2.13 = $17.04 in salary

 

lets say he/she served 30 customers ( a low number, I think for 8 hours)  who had an average check of $20 (also low) and they all tipped 15% that's $90 tips plus salary for 107 for 8 hours or $13.38/hour. And I bet I've way-underestimated things. Might be half again or twice as much.

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Well, it must be enough money for them to keep at the job because observation indicates that the servers are there and working.

 

Unless its just a hobby for them.

 

Would they like to do better? Sure. Is the current system stupid? Absolutely.

They may be there because they have no other choice. If they leave that job, in this economy, where would they go?

Are you even aware of what it is you're saying?

$2.13 per hour + tips is less than minimum wage. It's legalized slavery. Let's be blunt and call a spade a spade.

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