Let’s assume we can’t assume anything. Not a bad assumption for restaurateurs. This especially has to do with training our servers. Whether a waiter in a fine dining restaurant or a casual dining environment, a barista in a coffee café or a customer service counter employee in one of the millions of pastry emporiums across the country, people serving the public need to be taught everything from soup to change. Making change that is.
The El Dorado Kitchen, the dining experience anchoring the El Dorado Hotel in
One day last week I ordered a two muffins and two cups of tea in the café. The bill came to exactly ten dollars and I handed the employee $20.00.
The tip jar sitting in front of the register was almost empty, even though it should have been at least half full. Gratuities should have been abundant as the café had been busy throughout the morning hours. When I was handed my change, a single ten dollar bill, I realized why the jar looked bleak. I looked at the teenage employee behind the counter and immediately realized he returned the single bill without any expectation of a tip. Yet, he makes his living on tips. And, the tip jar is obviously placed at the register to encourage tips.
When I took the bill I asked him if he saw anything wrong with the picture.
“No”, he said.
“Well, do you think I am going to put this ten dollar bill in the tip jar?” I asked.
“Oh, no. I don’t think so”, he said with a smile on his face.
“Do me a favor”, I said. “Please let me have a five dollar bill and five singles. It will make it easier for me to leave a dollar in this jar.”
“Thank you so much”, he said. I don’t think anybody else will ever give me that advice,” he added.
“Well, if you break down the change so the customer can give you a tip, you’ll never need the advice again.”
“Thank you so much. I really appreciate the tip.”
I am sure he was speaking of the one that wasn’t in the jar, he was very bright and probably caught on easily. In all probability he was brought up outside the restaurant business. He was obviously taught to be polite and to not expect a tip. Some people do believe that if you break down change to make it easier for a customer to leave a gratuity you may be encouraging or asking, subliminally, for a tip. And, that theory has merit. However, in some instances a little tip reminder doesn’t hurt.
It is however, the employer’s obligation to teach tipping techniques. The employee makes a living on tips. And, although no server should stand tableside or next to a register with a hand out after the transaction is completed, they should make it as easy as possible for a customer to contribute to the jar, the server’s future and the economic system.
As owners, we all have an obligation to share the secrets of tipping. It’s a science. And whether you are on the receiving end, or the giving end, there are some techniques that make it a professional exchange of currency and kudos.
Sometimes tips come in the form of unspoken knowledge.
We should give them more often.
It makes it easier to fill the jar.