Prompting for tipping?

There is a local buffet chain here in SC and GA called Ryan’s. You pay on the way in and eat all you want. A few years ago they started asking you if you wanted cash back for a tip, or wanted to leave a tip when you pay with a credit card. This is all before you get out of the lobby and into the dining room.
Yesterday the wife and I had lunch at O’Charlies, when the check came, I saw at the bottom there was a tipping guide. “Your total bill is $24.05, 10% = $2.41, 15%= $3.61, 20%= $4.81.”
I was shocked. this seems to be more common now. I caught one of my drivers giving a customer a total by saying “That will be $xx.xx plus tip”. I told her it was rude and that if she did not follow our standard phone procedures she would be terminated. We never bring up the topic of tipping, but will discuss it if the customer asks.
Am I the only one that thinks this is more than a little gauche?

(BTW tip was $8.00 based on better than anticipated service and food)

Allow me to respond from a customer’s point of view. If I am asked to pay upon entering the restaurant, as in many buffet operations, I never include a tip at that time, but if the table attendant is friendly and attentive, I will always reward good service with a tip left on the table upon my departure. As for pizza delivery drivers, I normally expect to tip them, I normally go with a $2.00 minimum or 10% which ever is greatest. Exceptions to this are during inclement weather, and then I essentially double the tip. On the flip side, I have refused a pizza because it was at some point in time flipped upside down in the box (what a mess), and the driver told me that I would have to take it up with the store manager as he wouldn’t take it back since I wasn’t the only delivery he had to make. I did call the store and they sent me another pizza, the driver got a $5.00 tip for delivering $16.00 of pizza. Accidents happen, what counts the most is how you handle them. When dining out, I only expect courteous and friendly service (I know how kitchens can get backed up, so fast is not exceptionally high on my list of expectations (so long as things are reasonable, or the situation is explained to me), and I have no problem with a 15 to 20% tip. I can tell you horror stories of poor service and indeed, the tip reflected the level of perceived service (in most cases a notation on the tip line: NO TIP and a frowning face, and on the reverse side an explaination of the issue). I have no problem with a suggested tipping schedule, in fact, I kinda like that idea. I think most people want to tip when good service is provided, but many just don’t know how much to tip, and probably under tip as a result. Case in point, my wife and I were just at Olive Garden Restaurant and the bill came to just over $44.00, I was thinking of a $5.00 tip until I realized that a 10+% tip was insufficient for the great service our server provided, so I doubled it and made a notation on the bill “GREAT SERVICE, THANK YOU”. Hopefully, it got her a gold star from the manager too.
Tipping should not be difficult, but it should be based on some level of service provided. What I really don’t like is when the bill total is calculated with an 18% tip already included. The level of service had better warrent that 18% or I will complain, or even make an adjustment.
But that’s just me, a grouchy old man.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

A couple of thoughts… first is I just this past week saw a credit card slip with the words…now this is listed on 3 lines:

Pre-Tip Total: $50.00
Tip: $_____________
Charged Total: $_____________

Signature: __________________

So a polite way to remind you. I have seen for years the ones that give you the 10%, 15%, & 20% numbers so the mathmatically challanged dont mess up! From a business owner I like the Pre-Tip line. Makes the point. I can do math and round up if the service is good or better so dont use their scales. As far a tipping at a buffet…well we have a Ryans here and our is so bad I have never been. I am not a big buffet fan. There are 2 great Sunday ones that I will tip the server well for a couple reasons. They dont charge me $16.95 for a 5 year old… and most give me free refills on fresh squeezed lemonade and my girls milk…while others follow the $2 refill rule and 3 lemonades for 6 is steep. But damn good! So on that $40 buffet bill for the 2 adults and one kid I will go 20% just because the drink and food savings… and great service at the buffet itself. I would not tip beforehand anywhere. I also do not tip on pickedup takeolut food… not sure how most feel on that one… but I always tip very well to delivery drivers that are prompt. nice, social, and not acting like total diiiccks! :!: One last thing. If I am paying for a party of 8 plus and they say they will add 15-20% auto… I tell them no…DO NOT! I just say give us Great service…as I know a party of 20 with kids is hard… but I will go 20-30% a few times more. Remember servers…you are in the SERVING INDUSTRY!!! It is your job to be happy and get what I asked for. I dont care if you whine later… which you wont when you get a $50 tip on a $200 tab!!! :idea:

I’ve lived in and out of cultures with tipping. If you think employees need tips for incentive, you’re wrong. Once you view the whole tipping pressure concept from the outside, you realize how perverse it is. People are relegated to begging for scraps like dogs or look like children in poor countries begging for coins from tourists.

It creates fake smiles, overacted introductions (“Hi I’m Bambi and I’ll be your food delivery engineer!” No customer needs to know your name - just do your job.), a sense of entitlement and the pressure of guilt on the customer, plus it masks the true costs of eating or drinking out.

After living without people sticking their hands out for tips all the time, it feels really creepy when you see it again.

I kind of like knowing the name of the person waiting on me. I get tired of whistling at them when I need some extra dressing for my salad.

When there’s no tipping, you can ask any employee near you in the restaurant to help you, and they will. :mrgreen:

Every table is their table.

If that is the service model being used in that dining room. And if there is more than one server . . . and you still have to call out “Hey you; the one with the apron”. You want toincrease the chance of getting good service in our area, you the server’s name and let them know you are paying attention and desire attentive service. Personal accountability and committment to the relationship. That may not be the case in Asian cultures . . . or even Pacific Northwest US.

I operate in the Southeast US (Georgia) where personal interaction is the norm and the expectation. Customers use names, prefer polite responses, and courtesy in service personnel. The reality is that you will get far more loyal customers and better tipping behaviors when a genuine personal committment and connection is made.

Bottom line that as a customer, I DO WANT to know the employee’s name so that I can send word to the manager when I get superlative or attraocious service, and so I can say, “Thank you, Tammy, for taking care of this for us.” At the very least, that employee name is a subtle means of initiating a contract of accountability where that person/driver/server can’t pretend to be annonymous. At the most it is getting subtle buy-in to a cooperative realtionship to make each other’s lives more manageable.

But then, I wax philosophical into more esoteric means of relating.

Oh, I certainly know how it is, Nick. I lived in Georgia for many years.

But, getting someone’s attention isn’t as hard as you may think. A simple, “Excuse me, could you…” to a passing employee is easy and painless.

Many cultures don’t feel the need to have a relationship with restaurant employees or store clerks. It isn’t being snobbish at all, they respect what they do, but only Americans think they should be “friends” with every person they meet. But the fact is, they are not your friends.

It’s down right annoying for people from other cultures to fly next to an American on a long flight. They don’t want you to spend the whole flight talking to you or pretending that you’re going to get together and have drinks the next time you go to Brazil. :mrgreen:

Anyway, if people haven’t lived in a no-tipping society, they truly don’t really know what it’s like. It’s like them talking about a book they didn’t read.

I’ve lived decades in both and I can tell you that for me, I love not having to deal with tipping everyone. I’m a little spoiled now living in a country with great, consistent, efficient service that is always polite. I also like not having to expend energy into thinking that I’m developing a relationship with the person bringing me my food.

That’s my opinion.

My reference to pizza_garden being in Asia is so those who are not familiar would have frame of reference for his input. Original poster is in USA, so I offered a sort of off thread ramble about tipping and how to interact with a customer to maximize tips in my region.

More directly on point: I personally find it unacceptable/gauche/outrageous for my drivers (or dinging room servers) to directly solicit tips at the door . . . . I don’t care if it is begging or some passiv-aggressive sideways thing. I include references in the menu and occasional email newsletters that drivers work as long distance servers and tips are a part of customary delivery services that make our lives more convenient and flexible. Owner/manager’s place to work that customer relationship and not theirs. Driver pushes for tip, and it could damage or lose that customer relationship which costs my business.

As a customer, I do like the bottom of ticket information as it makes my life simpler calculating a tip. I think it is a subtle reminder as well for those not always mindful of the tipping culture we work in.

My own personal view is that restaurants shouldn’t be allowed to pay $2.13 an hour to servers, who then have to collect tips to make up the rest of their wage. The tip shouldn’t be a part of their wage…it should be payment for a “job well done” above and beyond service. One of the definititions of tip is to “reward someone with their service”…not help them make a decent wage.

I don’t think it’s fair that I have to go into a restaurant and pay for my meal and then I am required to tip the server to help pay for their wage. The restaurant should be paying their FULL wage and I can tip based on whether my service is good or bad. And we don’t tip until we’ve received that service and judge for ourselves. We also don’t tip well for bad service and tip generously for good service.

We are a delivery and carry-out location only and a few years ago we put a tip jar on our counter. There is never any mention to add a tip when you come in and pick up your food…it’s the customer’s own decision. Our customers like to throw their change and a little extra in there when they come in because they see how hard we are working with phones ringing off the hook, a line of customers in the lobby, and how busy we are handling a rush. ALL tips are split up each week by all the inside kitchen staff based on their hours. This system works great for us and gives a little bonus to our hardworking kitchen employees.

A few thoughts. First is the US is a tipped based structure in certain fields. Is it required…no. I know servers at very nice restaurants that make more than most of the pizza owners on this site and work half the hours. PG…I have traveled the world and every culture is its own… but being of a “tipped” or not structure… I want quality service no matter which! I see nothing wrong with polite conversation… and would prefer that a server spend the 10 seconds to say “Hi, how ya doing, my name is…etc”! No I dont really want to know what they did last weekend…but then again… I do have regular places where the owner will come over and talk shop…or my regular server will have my drinks on the table before my butt hits the seat. That is called great service and it is rare these days. I do agree that servers should make a real wage and tips are a part of their compensation but a real minimum should be there. For this to be… the customer must be ready to pay more for their food.

Nick… I agree with you on the ideal that customers sometimes need a little refresher that these employees work on tips. The flipside is some people tip great and some dont tip. A server, driver, bellman, etc… anyone that works on tips needs to act professional and understand this and that no matter what…they will have great tips and crappy ones. Smile and move on. If you let one bad tip ruin the night…your attitude will reflect upon others and probably cost you a whole lot more in the end. :!:

Receiving a tip is a privilege for giving good service. Some people look at it as part of the bill and will do it regardless while others really weigh out their quality of service before leaving a tip.

In dining rooms, the waistaff is usually assigned a section. They usually know what drinks each table has, where there order is at in terms of when they will receive their food, and what course they’re on. It’s the job of the waitstaff to keep everything straight and deliver it with a smile. Making sure each guest knows who their waitstaff is part of the experience. I like to know who they are because they know what I’m drinking or where my food is. The will ask the occasional person walking by if they can get my waitstaff for me. Because the person walking by usually doesn’t have a clue.

I delivered 90% of the pizzas in our shop, my smile was genuine and the way I treated the customer was top notch because I represented the shop. It never changed when I got no tip or whether I made $10 on a tip. Now, I own a limousine service where a tip is expected. Again, it’s either figured into the bill or collected at the end depending on the service they received. These tips range from $20- $220 per trip. But regardless, I take with a smile, say thank you and move on.

Setting up expectations for all your staff should be told and taught in the beginning when they get hired. And as for people who make $2.13 an hour, they get paid that plus tips. If the tips do not equal minimum wage, they are compensated the difference at least in Michigan.

But again, tips should be about service, not about expectations!!

This is a great idea, and one I want to be the reality. I am reminded time and again that the culture we live in trumps my desires. Whatever I am paying for a mea and whatever a server is being paid . . . . their is the overriding culture of expectation of tips. No matter what we tell our staff, and what wage we pay, we are going to be pushing every day and every week against the cultural structure of: service/delivery staff get tips. The best we can hope for is managing that expectation inside our own staff culture, and set the standard by role modeling and coaching. I had a driver that took home more every week than every person working for City Hall except the 10-yr clerk, Police Chief and the City Manager. Worked 25-30 hours a week with no hireable skills, a reputation as an adict . . . and still moaned about his tips.

One comment that I believe in and should be made clear to ALL employees of any operation. If I ever asked another server, bussboy, host, dishwasher walking by…etc… of any place something like "hey, can I get an extra fork or napkin…etc and was told “not my section or job” I would get up…have a quick talk to the owner…not manager… and walk out! Yes the servers work on tips… but this is a TEAM effort and the better impression every single worker makes the more money EVERYONE will make in the long run. Stop being lazy and greedy… and I will not tollerate the employee that tells me what their job description. Yes there is a reality of this limit… but it is the far end extreme not the simple things. Just last Tuesday we had dinner at a local place we hit once a month or so. Our server got hit with a 20 top and 3 other tables at once. I actually felt bad. He was a newer server as we know most the other ones. Well…one of the other girls that knows us was walking by and asked if we needed drink refills because she also saw that our guy was overloaded. She asked, we knew her by name, actually checked his other tables while there. His 20 top was half kids 5-10 years old…so a handfull! So two points…it is good to talk and interact a little with the staff as a customer but more important… if I every heard one of my employees either tell a customer that it is not my section or table… or not at the very least say “I will grab your server or a mgr if needed right away for you” well they can find the door!!! :!:

Greetings all, miss me? :evil:

So far, HoustonPizza is my pmq hero. As with servers, drivers should also NOT be paid tip credit or split pay wages. A tip is a gift, not a wage. I believe that many (NOT all) of the stores these days do not want drivers asking for tips because the customer will ultimately find out that they are paying the wages of the driver and/or that stores are pocketing a portion of the drivers’ tips for themselves.

As far as “pre-tipping” at a buffet is concerned, it is about the same as pre-tipping on credit card for the delivery driver. The last pizza shop in which I worked asked each credit card customer if they would like to add a tip for the driver. Some did and some did not. Some chose to write-in a tip at the door. The main reason it was done was because it was easier to add the tip the first time than to have to go back and manually enter the tip at the end.

Regarding non-tipping cultures: It would be GREAT to not have drivers “beg for scraps” but as the majority of stores in this culture are now using tip credit, sorry, but this is how drivers get paid. Not only should drivers who are paid tip credit wages be allowed to ask for a tip, they should be encouraged to do so. If a store does not want their drivers “begging for scraps” PAY THEM ACCORDINGLY so they do not need to do so.

This is probably best left as a business decision. I have had drivers who were very good with the customers and a couple who lost me long-term customers by not being in any way gracious in demanding more tip becasue they thought they deserved it. I do not trust the employee pool I have to chose from to be able to manage a courteous and effective interaction with customers about tipping behaviors. They can manage to find houses and give off food that was prepared correctly, smile and say thank you . . . . but engaging in customer relationship failed every time. That was one of the reasons we never stopped advertising our drivers and what they do for the business. . . then in a separate page, request that customers be considerate of the drivers and their tip reliance. If I am reminding the customers, then the service staff need not drive them off by being demanding or manipulative or deceitful (that one example turned out to be all of these).

I am actively encouraging people who seek my advice that delivery is a cost intensive and risk heavy element of service model as compared to dining room and take out. The costs and risks can be managed, and clear policies and procedures are warranted to establish expectations about employee interactions with customers. Whatever the philosophy and expectation, get it written, trained and signed. Everyone rowing the boat in the same general direction is the only path to success. I am reminded of the dynamics Hollywood truism: “the best result will come…from everyone in the group…doing what’s best for himself…and the group.” - John Nash

I agree with qcfmike in the sense that whenever asked anything by a customer, an employee of that company has the job to fulfill their needs whether it’s taking care of the issue themselves or finding someone else who can. It’s all about service. Ultimately, those guests pay the bills for everyone that works in the restaurant and employees seems to forget that. Their idea is “if it’s not my job, I don’t have to do it” which is the wrong way to think. Teamwork is the key word that tends to be forgot. As they say “There’s no I in team”. People just need to be reminded of that.

I took all the money since I was the driver and the owner. My tips were still good regardless of the delivery charge. That was just the way we did business and was accepted.

As a customer, I would have found the situation laid out in the original post as tacky. Being hard-headed, the business would have lost a customer. I would not have spend the energy or time to complain to the business, I’d simply stop being a customer.

As an owner (in a culture with tipping), I would have have never allowed that type of conversation to happen with a customer.

As a customer I find the concept of tipping in modern times strange, and people prompting for tips extremely annoying. I’m not the HR department and I don’t run payroll. Hire good people, pay them a good wage that they can live on, and make a good product. I’m a customer of someone’s establishment, not of someone’s employee. It shouldn’t be up to the customer to pay an employee or reward them for good service. Include in the cost of the product the costs for paying employees, and charge me one price. If I like the whole package, I’ll be a regular customer and the establishment and employees will benefit, simple as that. I tip well, but the first time I get prompted for tipping in an establishment or get “friendly reminders” is the last time I eat there.