by Kris Mason
In any transaction that includes adding a gratuity, there are really only two parties involved, the person giving the tip and the person receiving a tip. It really shouldn’t concern any other individual; despite the fact that the internet is buzzing with a third party who feels that tipping should be scrubbed from the surface of existence.
The person receiving the tip has a very clear idea what they want to see happen. They want to either find a large pile of cash, enough to make it rain; or turn over the charge slip and reveal a 7000% tip and a cute little hand written note about being the recipient of “paying it forward.”
The person leaving a tip knows how it goes too, based on the world’s most seemingly ridiculous sliding scale. It predates the diner even knowing why or how to tip, based on a combination of influences, ranging from friends to family to unknown cultural cues. It’s too simple to just say that “good tips” are equated to “good service,” because I’ve seen the opposite happen on numerous occasions.
Every person who tips (whether it’s percentages as low as 5% or as high 40%) believes that their method, their formula is the way it is supposed to be. You double the tax. Never more than 10%. You double the first number. It’s $2 on ten. You start at whatever percent and go up for various things done above and beyond. You start at that percent and take away based on crimes of customer service or gross negligence.
If things go incredibly well or horribly wrong a tip can be used as a statement; but that cannot be a rule set in stone. In some cases, not tipping is simply a nationality norm. Tipping doesn’t exist is some countries and can rear its ugly head during a visit to the States. There are people from this country who don’t tip because they don’t tip.
My point is simply this. People tip… and they don’t. Everyone who waits tables does so with full knowledge of the possible outcome. Whatever your secret formula is for tipping, you’re absolutely correct; and it’s my job to cater to you so you feel comfortable enough to part with that wildly random dollar amount.
We do the job because more often than not it works out quite well in our favor. Despite the fact that waiters and waitresses spend too much time bemoaning a low percentage on a large check, if we were losing money, we wouldn’t be there. We are survivalists; we go where the cash is.
I am honestly surprised when I come across articles or blogs that talk about abolishing tipping. They’re very well researched, mostly referencing some book from the early 1900’s, trying to drum up outrage by playing a race card, or at least suggesting some form of class warfare. I’m more amazed that some restaurant owners have really taken to the idea.
In the most notable move so far, New York City restaurant mogul Danny Meyer has announced he is doing away with tipping at all his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants. After seeing this, I found multiple re-postings of the same article. Meyer has wanted to end tipping for a couple decades now and finally feels that this is the (his) time.
Surprisingly, I liked what he was talking about. I liked that he was willing to tell his customers that his prices would be raised to compensate for no longer having to tip. For the customer, nothing actually changes. If you normally spent $100 on dinner and left a $20 tip, your night would cost you $120. Gone would be the “Tip” line on a credit card slip and customers would go home knowing that the server was fairly compensated.
Sounds great, right? No harm, no foul? That’s what I thought; but it turns out I was wrong. I missed it because each version of the article that I’d previously seen was redacted. Edited. Why would you re-post half an article? It seemed that every person or website that had re-posted this story left out the best part of Danny Meyer’s plan.
"Did Mr. Big-Shot New York City Restaurant Genius actually just steal the tip off my table?"
You see, Meyer admits that since 2008 he has had a very difficult time retaining his kitchen staff because wages have been flat for almost a decade. His “Tip-Free Plan” includes raising his prices twenty to thirty percent and locking in a “Fair Wage” for everybody in the restaurant. Here’s what it looks like:
Waiters and Bartenders - $9.00 per hour
Back of the House and Cooks - $11.00 to $15.00 per hour
Management - $25.00 per hour
Wait… what?! Did Mr. Big-Shot New York City Restaurant Genius actually just steal the tip off my table and give it to the cooks and the managers?! Are you kidding me? According to Meyer, that’s the best way he knows how to fix the problem. Taking away the tipping system that some find awkward and few deem unnecessary and changing it into a redistribution of wealth is beyond fairness, it’s flat out Socialism.
Waiting tables is the perfect exercise in Libertarianism. Every server is given the same set of tools, the same menu with the same prices and the same number of people to wait on serving the same food. Through this, and random chance (a luck of the draw), no two servers will produce the same results. We are created equal to pursue happiness with not a single guarantee about the outcome or result. People tip… and they don’t.
Considering, in most general cases, there is a manager for every ten to twenty waiters, I’m guessing at the Union Station Hospitality Group there won’t be a manager position for every server who can’t afford a 60% cut in pay. So here is my simple prediction. Any waiter worth his salt will leave there and take a job anywhere else in the city where the owner hasn’t lost his mind.
Mr. Meyer, we already know what $9 an hour hospitality looks like and it typically includes the question, “Do you want fries with that?” You should take a page from the Bernie Sanders playbook. If you really want to punish the one making all the money to compensate those at the the bottom, instead of taking the money from those filthy rich waiters and giving to the cooks and managers, why don’t you take the money out of of your own incredibly deep pockets and make sure all your kitchen staff is making as much as your poor waiters.
Sounds fair to me!
I do Waiter Boot Camps at your restaurant. Contact me to schedule a meeting. 480-600-6973