(Photo Credit: davedugdale/Flickr)
In an article on Slate, Jay Porter of the Linkery restaurant in California, explained how abolishing tips and adding an 18 percent service fee onto each check allowed him to guarantee a better income for both his waitstaff and his kitchen staff.
The idea was inspired by a desire to make sure that the folks in the kitchen weren't making significantly less than the workers in the front of the store. Cooks and servers generally make the same base wage, he explained, but tipping boosts servers' earnings up significantly. In fact, our tipping study found that, on average, servers earn 58 percent of their salary from tips. Redistributing the wealth allowed Porter to reward his kitchen staff and also to encourage a sense of unity between the back and the front of the restaurant.
The gains didn't stop there.
"When we switched from tipping to a service charge, our food improved, probably because our cooks were being paid more and didn't feel taken for granted," Porter writes. "In turn, business improved, and within a couple of months, our server team was making more money than it had under the tipped system. The quality of our service also improved. In my observation, however, that wasn't mainly because the servers were making more money (although that helped, too). Instead, our service improved principally because eliminating tips makes it easier to provide good service."
How can that be? Well, it turns out, Porter's servers weren't motivated by the tips as much as is commonly thought to be the case with waitstaff. They were motivated by the desire to do their jobs well, just as we all are, to some extent.
Furthermore, not having to worry about money freed up the staff to concentrate on providing good service.
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