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Could you please offer some advice on the tip problem I am having? I don´t mean the few uncaring penny pincher ones that you just KNOW always leave a buck or two no matter what their check is… and I don´t mean poor service can lead to a bad tip. That´s a no brainer… What I mean is it seems that NO ONE in this town tips appropriately. It drives my server´s nuts, and when I get a good professional trained server from some high class place, they usually quit after just a few days because the customers tip so little. I mean most don´t even leave ten percent. The past few days I´ve even taken a few tables myself. A table of four that got two sirloins, a shrimp dinner and some salads for instance, their bill was over forty bucks. I took excellent care of them. They raved about the food. They stiffed me.
Another table today… two bucks on a thirty dollar ticket. It´s constant here. Four bucks on sixty, etc etc… It´s like everyone is pinching pennies. This is all the time not just certain days or certain shifts. The girls aren´t even getting fifteen percent averages by the end of their shift. What is it?
It sounds as though you may have to educate your customers on the art of appropriate tipping. It´s apparent that under-tipping has become the norm rather than the exception at your restaurant. I am sure that this has nothing to do with your service, but primarily with the assumption that tipping at reasonably priced restaurants need not be in the fifteen percent range.
Frequently, in tourist areas, where there is a large European contingent, tipping is overlooked since gratuity in Europe is often included in the total bill. However, it doesn´t seem that Europe has anything to do with your problem.
In many restaurants it is quite standard to place a simple line at the bottom of the menu that states"?¦ "An 18% gratuity will be added to parties of six or more." In your case you could very nicely print this statement"?¦ "Although standard gratuity is 15%, on parties of six or more adults the management reserves the right to add an 18% service gratuity."
This would alert customers to the 15% rule, which by the way is being nudged out by an 18% rule in many eateries. Also, by placing that simple line at the bottom of your menu you would alert customers that you reserve the right to do it and that you don´t necessarily add the service charge on.
A new practice has begun in many other restaurants and the notice appears at the bottom of the computerized guest check. There is an actual breakdown of a 15%, 18%, and 20% gratuity. The real time number, the percent of the check that you are expected to leave as a gratuity pops up on the guest check and suggests to the diners an amount that would please a server. When I first noticed this practice, I was taken aback. However, once I had the opportunity to discuss the practice with a manager I felt very comfortable with it since it is directed to the tourist trade that the restaurant caters to.
One of the most difficult decisions to make is whether or not to change the perceived value of your restaurant. You stated that four people ate two sirloin steaks, a shrimp dinner, and some salads and the bill was $40.00. That seems very reasonable. It may be time to look at your prices and give them a bit of a boost. Often people think because the food is so reasonable that they do not have to leave the same amount that they would when they go to a more expensive restaurant.
I have a friend in Dallas, Texas who began is business in a small restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and dinner. He and his wife worked day and night to build the business and eventually they realized they were not charging enough to ever make a living. After a few years they decided to change their location, menu and ambiance and opened a steak house. Today they are highly successful and people leave above average tips where once they were just crossing the 13% line.
The gratuity dilemma is not easy to figure out. But the line on the bottom of the menu certainly hints at better tips. The suggested tip on the guest check also works well and I am sure that your register can be programmed to add that line.
But you may want to try this tactic.
Simply state at the bottom of the menu"?¦ Although the industry standard for tipping has increased to 18%, we are holding our suggested tips to 15% in an attempt to combat rising prices.
This could be construed as humorous, as serious, or as just a statement. You be the judge. Try it on a menu or two and see what happens. I´ll bet tips go up immediately.