Category Archives: Service

Restaurants that got rid of tipping are bringing it back.

Because, as I’ve relentlessly insisted, tipping works better for everyone: the server, the customers and the establishment.

From our friends at THE RAIL a great industry publication:

CAN’T END TIPPING
Why it matters to you: restaurants have not been able to successfully end the tipping system. 
The tipping debate has caused controversy in the restaurant industry for years now. Some establishments believe that tipping is an unfair practice that puts servers ahead of the back of house staff whereas others believe the tipping is a fair practice that shouldn’t be changed. It’s been less than a year since the Oregon-based restaurant, Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro decided to enforce a no-tipping policy and as of last week, they have reinstated tipping. The original deal was that they would raise food and beverage prices an average of 20 percent to include tip, but unfortunately the higher prices were too much for some diners. The prices are now reduced to not include the tip and it will now be given manually.

This restaurant made a vast effort to change the system which is incredibly noteworthy. Unfortunately, the tipping system is so ingrained in the restaurant industry that it becomes incredibly difficult to interject a new structure. According to a tipping expert and professor at Cornell University of Hotel and Administration, there is really no obvious solution to the problem. “The biggest reason for restaurateurs to keep tipping is that it allows them to reduce menu prices, which increases demand.” He goes on to recommend that restauranteurs look at the level of difference between employees specifically BOH and FOH, and replace the tipping system if this is where “the highest pay discrepancies exist.”

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9 Tips For Better Communication #MondayMotivation

~ 9 Ways to be a Positive Communicator. Thanks to Jon Gordon for Sharing.

~ 1. Shout Praise, Whisper Criticism – This phrase comes from the original Olympic Dream Team and Detroit Pistons coaches Chuck Daily and Brendan Suhr. They won NBA Championships and an Olympic Gold medal with a lot of talent and great communication. They gained the trust of their players and built winning teams by praising in public and constructively criticizing in private. Shouting praise means you recognize someone in front of their peers and whispering criticism means you coach them to get better. Both build better people and teams.

~ 2. Smile More – When you share a real smile it not only produces more serotonin in your brain but in the brain of the recipient of your smile. Just by smiling at someone you are giving them a dose of serotonin, an anti-depressant. Never underestimate the power of a smile. As a positive communicator you have the power to make someone feel better just by smiling.

~ 3. Don’t Complain – When you complain you lose power, effectiveness and credibility as a communicator and leader. Most of all complaining is toxic and sabotages you and your team. Complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick. I know it’s a gross analogy but you’ll never forget it.

~ 4. Encourage – Truett Cathy said, “How do you know if a man or woman needs encouragement? If they are breathing.” We all need encouragement and positive communicators encourage and inspire others to do more and become more than they ever thought possible. Great communicators are great encouragers.

~ 5. Spread Positive Gossip – Instead of sharing negative gossip, be the kind of communicator who spreads positive news about people. My college lacrosse teammates Mike Connelly and Johnny Heil are famous for this. Whenever you talk to them they are always praising our mutual friends. “Did you hear how awesome so and so is doing? Their kids are doing great!” They never say a negative word about anyone. They always spread the positive news and the best part is that you know when you are not around they are likely sharing something positive, not negative about you.

~ 6. Sometimes You Have to Listen More and Talk Less – Positive communicators don’t just talk. They listen. They ask questions and really listen. Research shows that when people feel like they are seen and heard there is a moistening in the eyes and yet in 90% of our conversations there is no moistening in the eyes. Positive communicators make others feel important by listening to them and truly hearing what they have to say.

~ 7. Welcome Feedback – Positive communicators also listen to and welcome ideas and suggestions on how they can improve. They don’t fear criticism. They welcome it knowing it makes them better. They send a clear signal to their team, customers, coaches, etc. that they are always willing to learn, improve and grow. Positive communicators say “I’m open. Make me better. Let’s get better together.”

~ 8. Celebrate Success – Instead of focusing on what went wrong each day, positive communicators focus on what went right. They celebrate their successes, even the small ones, knowing that small wins lead to big wins.

~ 9. Give High Fives, Handshakes, Pats on the Back, Fist Bumps and Hugs When Appropriate – Positive communication isn’t just verbal. It’s also physical. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of physical contact between doctors and patients, teachers and students and professional athletes. For example in one study the best NBA teams were also the touchiest (high fives, pats on the back, hugs). In a world where physical touch has become taboo because of misuse and abuse we must remember that it is a way we humans communicate naturally and is very powerful and beneficial when done appropriately with good intention. Personally I’m a fist bumper and a hugger. When I meet people at speaking engagements I give them a choice. Bump or Hug. Whichever they are more comfortable with is great with me.

 

What We All Lose If Tipping Is Eliminated

Updated 9-18-16

~ Prices will go up more than 20% . Trust me, they’ll have to. So customers will pay more at any place that’s even moderately popular.

~ Good servers at most places will make less money as the net wage hike will not cover the lost tips. The majority of servers I know are strongly against getting rid of tips.

~ Operators will lose as higher menu prices will decrease customer visits and spending.  ~ Most sadly, another one of the rare person to person relationships left in our social life will vanish.
~ Based on my past as a tipped server in the past, and my years in many different aspects of the hospitality business, in concepts from low to high end, I think this is a mistake across the board.

~ Everyone will lose if we get rid of tipping.

Here’s a 9-18-16 update from the Chicago Tribune on how the no-tipping experiment is failing.

a tipster not just a hipster tip sign

 

#Business and Life Advice from the Grateful Dead #Dead50

Grateful Dead closed out their 50 Year Career in Chicago last night at Soldier Field (a mere 2 blocks from my home). It was the same location as their last show with Jerry Garcia in 1995. I’ve never been a big DeadHead but have appreciated their music, longevity, experimentation and also their business sense. They were one of the first bands to have their own record label and sell their own tickets, and everyone knows they are kings of merchandising and brand building. They changed the concert touring business as well with their traveling band of fans, long improvisational shows, and allowing fans to tape their shows starting decades ago.
Along with Led Zeppelin they were one of the rock bands that did the most to shape the music and concert business.
Over the weekend I tweeted some of my favorite Grateful Dead lyrics that also can be taken as good self improvement advice in business and life.
Fare Thee Well!

once in a while gdead

maybe you find direction gdead

gdead one man gathers

gdead silver mine

long distance runner c

are you kind gdead

To learn more about the Grateful Dead’s business innovations and lessons, read this short article from guy who wrote a whole book on it.  Or here’s another one.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

–TTBG

 

Be Careful What You Wish For, Anti-Tipping Crowd

A Massachusetts Court ruled a Dunkin Donuts that has prominent signs saying that tips are not accepted can keep any money left on the counters and not give it to employees. Not my style of good morale management, but I can’t fault the court. If there’s “no tipping” than money left on the counter cannot by definition be a tip!
If you don’t like that logic than perhaps we are all better off preserving the personal touch of encouraging tips instead of taking another step toward a society with minimal human interaction.
As someone who earned the money to start out in life as a tipped employee, I say Long Live Tipping!
Read more here in Grub Street about this ruling.

Want help dealing with trends and challenges in restaurant and bar service?  Shoot us a note and have a free consultation!  Or join us on Facebook and Twitter to ask any questions!

Jimmy John’s Non-Compete Employee Agreements – Fair or Unfair?

A variety of recent articles report Jimmy John’s Subs requires all employees, even line workers and drivers, to sign an agreement not to work for any competing sandwich shop for 2 years after working for Jimmy John’s.  I have been getting some questions on email and social media looking for my take on this as a F&B business person.

The reality is that in most states a non-compete for workers other than management or technical specialists is not enforceable.  There’s a long history of rulings that non-competes can’t be used to prevent someone from making a living with skills they learned working at a company after they quit or are terminated.  I can’t imagine that Jimmy Johns corporate legal and HR staff would not know this.  So the most likely explanation for the existence of the non-compete clause is simply intimidation, to scare employees from leaving for another sandwich shop.  Low level employees don’t have the money to even consider any legal defense, so just the threat of even an illegitimate non-compete clause will almost always be enough to intimidate the worker.

Whether the existence of this clause is an unfair and objectionable move on the part of Jimmy John’s depends on if you think it’s OK to use employee agreements to scare workers with unenforceable clauses, relying on the worker’s lack of resources to force compliance to a legally and civilly illegitimate demand.

While I am a big admirer of the Jimmy John’s rags to riches success story, I don’t agree with this tactic, and professionally I believe a business would lose more than it would gain in genuine staff loyalty and performance with these types of demands.  Additionally it’s “bad PR” that could hurt a chain’s image with customers when it’s revealed.

Read some more information on this issue, the legal, civil, employment law and public perception aspects here, here and here.

 

JimmyJohnsFounder
Jimmy John’s Founder John Liautaud built his huge sub sandwich chain starting with a single shop in a garage in Charleston Illinois.

 

Question about “bar hacks” for customers.

I got a question from a bar customer over the weekend about “bar hacks,” to make going out to bars and nightclubs easier, here’s my response:

Best hack:  Go early before it gets busy.  You will frequently save money on cover, as it’s often reduced early, there will be no line, and you will be able to get a drink easily. Then establish a relationship with a bartender or server in the most out of the way part of the club where they will be the least slammed, tip in advance, and you will be prioritized to get your drinks fast once it gets busy.  Also you will have a prime place to sit/hang.  Sometimes you can get a table/bottle service at a reduced rate if they are not sold out.  As little as 1 hour difference in when you show up can make all the difference in comfort for your night.

> Dress Cool.  That does not necessarily mean dress up.  If you want to find out the way to best fit in at the club, look on their photo pages such as Instagram and Facebook.  The clubs will feature pictures of what they consider their most attractive patrons. Dress like them or if you have fashion game, even spin your look just a slight step more upscale or extreme (depending on the concept of the club).

Social Media hacks:
> If the bar/club is active on Twitter get yourself known that you re-tweet and support them with Tweets, that’s like Gold to most places.  I have found that Twitter can be the new VIP.
> If you take photos in the club with good looking people that make the club look good and post/tag them that’s valuable too.  Social Media has created ways you can help a club that were never there before, and if the club is active on social they will likely appreciate it.

Old School hacks:
> Show up with attractive and/or personable people and a mixed group, 60/40 women to men
.
> Go in on a dead night, make friends with staff, spend money, get some contact info so they can hook you up on a busier night.
> If you want to check out places that are hot as hell go there any night besides Saturday, you will get in easier and have better service.  Find out when they are not “dead” but not slammed.  Saturdays explore the less known out of the way joints or well-established places that are still good but post – trendy so they now appreciate their patrons.  This last technique works for better restaurant experiences too.