Sunday, May 23, 2010

All about tipping.

I've learned a lot since my last post in January. For those of you that may not know my primary hustle/job/position/career (whatever you'd like to label it as) since January of 2009 has been as a manager of a beautiful restaurant in oakland, ca (with delicious food) called, Spice Monkey.

One of the most informative and practical things that I have learned about while working in the service/hospitality industry has been "tipping"...The why and how it works. I am posting this because previous to this career change, I had no clue.

In the midst of observing my staff, I've realized that the way people do or do not tip (even in the midst of excellent service) can sometimes be taken personally.

Here are the facts...
#1 - Servers make a low amount hourly. Usually minimum wage.

#2 - Several restaurants require their servers to "tip-out" the people who assist them with table service. This can be the kitchen staff, bussers, bartender, it all depends on the restaurant. The amount tipped out varies. Generally 10 - 15% of tips.

#3 - The proper amount to tip is 18% before tax.

#4 - If you are dining with a group and gratuity is not already included on your bill, NEVER ask the server to charge the amount of your food (already including your tip amount) then assume that your homies are gonna tip for you.

I admit, I used to tip shitty 20% of the time. The main reasons were that occasionally I was low on cash and was not in a position where I could tip well or the food took too long and my server did not come to check on me.

If I'd known fact #2 maybe I'd take my food to-go instead OR give my server the heads up that I wanted to tip them better, but I wasn't able to because I was low on funds. I often find that my servers give excellent service and get really bummed/disappointed when they are left a low tip. They often wonder what they'd done wrong. Since I used to be that way, I realize that sometimes they did nothing wrong. Sometimes it may be unawareness on the customer's part. Lesson for fact #2 is in most cases you're not only tipping your server, your tipping the staff. If you have a complaint, tipping shitty won't do much except for leave the server emotional. Service or attitude issues will not be addressed just because you didn't tip. Leave feedback or talk with a manager instead.

Regarding fact #4 - when having your credit card charged in a small group, add up how much your portion of the bill was and ask your server to charge that amount, then write in the tip yourself. Why? Sometimes other people tip poorly. Often what happens is if you ask your server to charge your portion of the bill (including the tip) on your card, your homey says, "put the rest on this card". THEN they only tip based on what was charged on their card (which is lower than what they really had) because you asked the server to deduct your portion of the food + your tip. The person paying for "the rest" often does not really know how much their food costed because they didn't wanna deal with the bill splitting or was too busy talking the whole time.


So now... I always tip what's fair. Don't get me wrong, I might not tip 18% or more if I got poor service, but I will NEVER tip zero.

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