Wait Staff Duties

I’m seriously considering an opportunity to move to a new location that will transform me from a 25% dine in location to a 75% dine in business. Currently customers approach the counter and order, take a seat and have their food brought to them with a self-serve soda fountain. I don’t pay my counter staff at tip wage right now, but I would have to add wait staff at this new location at a tip-wage.

My question is, for those of you who have tip-wage staff, what are their responsibilities? Right now, I don’t know what are fair (for both of us) responsibilities to ask them to do during down times. If they’re making less than $2.50 an hour from me, I don’t think it’s fair to ask them to be taking out trash and washing dishes. But, at the same time, if they’re making $8-12 an hour (even though I’m not forking the money over), shouldn’t they be just as busy as a dishwasher or bartender? I’m torn on how to handle a higher paid staff that gets most of their money based on the operation and support staff.

They are there to work so make them do just that. Keep in mind that if they dont claim atleast enough money to bring them up to minimum wage you have to kick in the extra anyway. Im not sure the exact labor laws are where you are but here I can even pay a cashier 5.65 an hour. We have the same type of operation, order at the counter amd we will bring the food to the table. There is a tip jar on the counter and people often leave tips on the tables. So I have a couple of people who cashier and bring food to the tables and they split the tip money at the end of the night.

The local labor laws will explain how this can be done legally. They have to spend a certain portion of the time they are on the clock in direct contact with customers.

Our waitresses are just as busy as everyone else. And everyone at our place has to wash dishes! :shock:

But our waitstaff’s primary duties are everything inclusive in the front of the house.

DO NOT FEEL BAD for making them work. Regardless of what you are paying them they are probably making more most of your staff in the end. :mrgreen:

The way we are set up (open kitchen) everyone helps everyone. Our servers can cook, take out the trash, wash dishes etc. just like everyone else. (Although, we prefer them to stay clean and in front if need be they can and will help)

Just remember folks, you get what you pay for.

I’ve always disagreed with this. I think it’s more how you treat your employees and who you hire rather than how you pay them. Of course pay is important to people, but you don’t apply at a restaurant hoping to make 40K a year with benefits.

When I was young, I went from making $5/hr to almost $15/hr and I worked a lot harder at the $5 job because I was part of a team. The $15 job treated me like dirt, never taught me anything and never let me be a part of the “team”.

A great working environment and an understanding/motivational boss is great, but at the end of the day praise will not pay the bills.

No one really expects 40K and full benefits at a restaurant these days, but why bother if the ends do not justify the means? If I cannot make enough to pay my bills, I’m moving on no matter how much I respect and like you and/or your establishment. (Ask my former boss.)

Not to be inflammatory, but there are probably 6 year-olds making Nike shoes in an Pakistani sweatshop making a greater hourly wage than some of our American tip credit workers.

This is not what the OP asked! Get back on topic or get deleted.

PPG I am glad that you respect and like us and we are sad too see you moving on. We wish you the best… Oh, did I read that wrong? :shock:


To the OP then:

A person making tip credit wages should always be busy doing the part of the job that leads to tips. If a store has enough business and doesn’t overwhelm the store/restaurant with a multitude of scheduled employees on a given night, this should not be a problem. The bottom line is there should not be enough time for a tip credit employee to be standing around “looking for something to do” not related to the obtaining of tips. If there is too much down time for tip credit employees, something is wrong with the management.

Of course, some business owners prefer having extra “cheap labor” around to make sure prepping, taking out trash, etc., is completed. It should go without saying that I abhor this practice. Two thoughts come to mind:

  1. If the management has properly installed a “team” approach then there should not be a problem getting tasks completed.

  2. (The big bold statement) Shops and restaurants can pay tip credit without getting constant moaning from the staff. The way to do this is to ensure that there is enough business to allow the workers to obtain tips throughout the night. No one wants to work for 8 hours to only have sporadic tips regardless of the base pay. Add a wage of $2.50 to the mix, and you will have a disgruntled employee.

PPG I agree with what you said there. I also think that as you said… and this applies to all employees not just tip-credit ones… that all employees should be working for the greater good while they are on the clock. If you are a server… the majority of your time should be serving…but you also need to stock the front of house and do general cleanup…etc. All of those things help you achieve higher tips. The same with back of house employees. Working as a team will lead too more efficient operations which in turn will lead to higher wages and a better work environment. Now that being said, the size of the operation makes a huge difference here. A large employer will have people that do assigned jobs with little varience. Most small employers will have more cross trained workers. Personally I would not pay servers or drivers by tip-credit. I feel that they should get minimum wage at the least and even though this does cost the business in the short term, the extra money invested in your employees will pay off in the long run. I know many with argue this point and say the money is not there, and in these hard economical times that is understandable. I still feel this way.

There is another side to the proverbial coin:

You get paid for what you give.

Our wait staff have basic setup tasks relevant to their performing their jobs: rolling flatware, sweeping dining room, stocking alley, making tea, moving dishes to dish room, cleaning windows. Those who buy into the team concept offer to help do other things when not at customer table or attending their needs: taking out trash, loading drink coolers, etc. We pay above tip credit minimum minimum to start, and add on as indicated. See, we spend money and effort of our own bringing additional customers and adding to their experience that generates tips (specifically intended to generate higher tips), so we spend money on wait staff that way, too.

I am a firm believer in paying increased wages to my best labor assets in my business. Those people who excel and contribute more to my business in any of hundreds of possible ways, then I find a way to compensate them above the market rate. I have a cook who has been with me for 7+ years who makes well above the going rate in our market, and gets lots of other add-ons like food benefits, occasional freebies from other businesses (movie tix, restaurant certificates, etc). Both he and my other guy who works half the week are the reason we enjoy or work. They will get anything from us we can afford.

We have had 5 or 6 front of the house employees, most of whom were not motivated, lacked focus, lacked discipline, would not use the p&p to do the job, etc. This despite above market wages to start with 90-day review for increase, 1 year review for increase and occasional bonuses. Those folks didn’t get much wage from us, and evidently not much tip either. When we got a dynamite, motivated, house afire front employee, the business transformed. Our dine-in business grew, same people were tipping 50% to 100% more, customers wanted to dine in on “her nights”, and when she become with child, she got lots and lots of baby gifts from customers. Let’s say we paid her everything we could afford, and made sure we gave perks whenever available.

See, there is a two way street. If the employee wants a higher wage, they gotta make themselves more valuable to my business. If performance doesn’t increase efficiency, increase revenues, reduce costs . . . . then you aren’t worth more money out of my pocket. Harsh world, but the one I worked in for most of my adult life. It works that way in most of the rest of the business world . . . so I apply it to my business as well. I also bare no malice for those who decide they must move on because they need to earn more money and cannot get it from me. One must do what one must do.

Just read an interesting e-mail about this subject:
http://blogs.findlaw.com/free_enterpris … -rule.html

I thought that was the rule for tip credit wages already. Go figure.

If the law states from the link above that they must be oaid non tip rates if 20% of their time is doing non tipped work why can’t you just do an average pay rate per hour, plus tips.
We have Saturday loadings of 25% and Sundays of 50% but we are allowed to combine all hourly rates and do an average hourly rate. It helps when someone will only work weekends doing exactly the same job as someone working weekdays and the weekend days.
If a tipped rate is $2.50 and a non tipped is $6.50 and the average % time of each is 20% non tipped duties and 80% tipped duties an average hourly rate would be $3.30. 80% of $2.50 = $2 and 20% of $6.50 = $1.3. Not a big difference but it gives the employee an slightly higher overall rate and covers the “other dutues” carried out. if they have a busy night and only do 5 or 10% of non tipped duties then they get a little more and lose a little if the non tipped duties is above 20%.
It is a simple method that reduces the need to be continually clocking in and off for non tipped hours and tipped hours.
It is also a win/win situation.
But then again having a standard non tipped wage and all tips go into a pool for all employers would see more tangible results across the shop. I say this because I hate seeing drivers get tips while the order taker has to deal with the customers order (at times quite frustratingly with big or complicated orders), the pizza makers who ensure the pizzas are made to the best quality and the preppers who have to endure the dough making, cutting vegies (especially onins) etc. The drivers pick up the order, delivers it and gets the tip, even though (in our situation) they are paid on average above anyone else in the shop ofr the same age and get substantial motor vehicle allowances.