Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. How have I lived on $2.63/hr. for the past 10 years. Simple: I treat each and every "guest" (never a customer) as if they were my parents, or grandparents. Would I want a server to give my grandmother an attitude because she wants water to drink? No. Or more crackers for her soup? NO. I may be busy and aggravated...but that's the nature of the beast..er, business. Servers are like actors where-as if you're having a bad day...you roll with it. Smile anyhow. You're there at work...you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I recently discovered your newsletter. Each week I enjoy reading the different opinions restaurant professionals have on "tipping." As a former restaurant manager, I encountered this topic daily with my servers. I also dealt with it first hand during my 10 years of service.
Reports of generous tips as well as "crappy" tips were commonplace. But on one occasion, one of my servers decided to comment to her guests regarding a less-than-generous tip. A custom unaccepted by the management staff. The server was upset because the customers left a tip of less than 10%. She decided to give the money back and state, "You need it more than I do." While this a popular comeback for all waitstaff, I had never expressed it or heard it spoken to an actual guest. Well, the server was reprimanded by our General Manager. He simply inquired, "When you receive a healthy 35% tip from a guest, do you give it back? Do you mention that you usually receive 20% for your service and that they tipped too much?" I felt this statement summarized tipping eloquently. You see, making a living off tips can be as erratic as playing the stock market. Some days are good and you are up. Some days are bad and money is down. But ride out the storm and hopefully you will come out on top. On average, Americans tip 15%. Anything more or less than that is a bonus. Everything has a way of evening itself out. So stop complaining and move on to the next table.
In reference to tipping policies...it has been an industry standard for as long as I've been in the business (20 years) that gratuity is expected, which compensates the lower wages servers, bussers, bartenders, etc. receive. I feel tipping should be expected when excellent service is given. I personally tip the gas station attendant when I'm getting gas, I'll tip the bagger at the grocery store when he takes my groceries to my car, I'll tip the store clerk for any additional assistance given to help me find what I need.
Also, keep in mind, tipping varies heavily due to many factors; where you live, East Coast, West Coast, Europe, States, UK, etc. The type of environment and different cultures have different beliefs when it comes to tipping.
If your establishment is experiencing the "why didn't they tip me" attitude, maybe you should rethink what you, as an employer, should do to make them feel more appreciated. Do you offer your employee's health care? What is their hourly rate of pay? What about increasing it? Do you offer incentives such as a bonus plan or recognition for exceeding guest expectations? What about stock options? 401K plan? The list goes on and on. Always reward your employee's for a job well done, it really does make a world of difference in their attitude, work ethic and definitely lowers turnover.
The UK provides salaries to waiters as do many other European countries and tips are considered incidental or "extra". In the USA the custom is different and the majority of a waiter's income is derived from gratuities presented by the customers. There are some USA states that the employer is allowed to pay as low as $2.13 an hour. In the USA tips are a reward for good service and there are variables to consider in calculating a tip. Primarily, USA diners prefer having the option on the gratuity and rebel at "mandatory" gratuities. Currently the standard is 15-20% with the customer's option of higher or lower.
The customs of this topic in the UK and USA are certainly different. However, the old saying, "When in Rome do as the Romans" seems fitting.
Paul C. Paz - email@example.com
In response to a letter sent in by Sven who said:
"Sometimes you don't get the service as expected - so what? Do you always do everything right in your job? Do you pay the car repair, even if it is not as expected, or don't?"
My answer to the first question is no, I do not always do everything right on my job. Since I am a business owner, that means my customers will be less satisfied and therefore I earn less money in the short and long run. Same as not getting a tip. Others who work for a paycheck are in the same boat. They may not get a raise or promotion if they do not perform satisfactorily.
My answer to the second question is also no, I do not pay for the car repair if it is not done right. I would refuse to pay and complain to the manager or owner. If they refused to satisfy my legitimate complaint, I would probably pay and then complain to the BBB or hire an attorney. I certainly would never go back again.
My answer to the implied third question is no, I would not tip a waiter(ress) well if I did not receive good service. If the service was downright bad, I would not tip at all.
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