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Do you think places that "pool tips" have more service issues?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I have an issue with this concept, and I'm looking for some perspective from anyone who has been in the industry. (I haven't)

I understand the general concept of pooling tips, but I think bad or just ok service is such a risk, I'm not sure why restaurants would want to do this. Also, I don't think it's fair to the tipping customer, not to inform them that tips are pooled.

If I tip, say 40% for exceptional service, I want that extra 20% to go to THAT waiter/ress/bus/server. I have experienced, many, many, times, in places that I know pool tips, that service is lacking. I get the feeling of "oh well, we all split our tips anyway" and they know people will usually tip 20% regardless and a 15% or 10% tip isn't going to kill them, since it's pooled anyway.

I'm sure someone will say it all evens out, but, I really don't see it.
post #2 of 20
I have had exceptional service from pooled tips establishments. The problem is that management somethings believes that the system "self-checks" itself and therefore no service guidelines need to be enforced by them. The places where this works are known for their service, discretion and proficiency. The bar is high, and enforced by management. After that, it's up to the servers to make it work. The one place I'm thinking of has an elaborate system of sign language. You see the servers communicating from across the room that this or that table needs a water refill, a napkin folded etc. It's very cool.
post #3 of 20
I have seen more service from my UPS driver than the service I get in Outback, Applebees and anyother restaurants like this. I guess pooled tips is ok in these restaurants. If you pool tips in fine dining your taking away the Incentive for exceptional service of the experienced server. Let each server take care of the Busboy and keep his or her tips, a good quality server deserves every penny.
I would also put the kitchen cooks on an incentive for amount of meals cooked or $$$$ generated from meals served. The cooks get a base wage, and never paid enough. The cooks get paid the same on a 50 cover night as a busy 250-300 cover night.
I have thought over the years how I could get my employees more involved and care about my business. I have hired and fired 1000"s of employees over the years. I have come up with only one solution, MONEY, GREENBACKS, the ALL Mighty BUCK. They never make enough money, if they get a raise, its never enough.
I started an incentive program for most of my employees. The system I have is the more $$$$ they generate the more $$$$$ they make. I started this program about one year ago and have zero turnover, and employees in charge of their own wage. I don't have anyone asking for a raise. If they do ask for a raise, I tell them think of ways to generate more sales, its your shift. I have employees coming to me saying, What do you think about doing, this and that. I answer with thats a good isea, let me know what help you need to get it started. I get phone calls from employees, telling me guess how much we did tonight, and I could hear the pride and sound of accomplishment in their voices.
I now get better customer service and employees that think on there own, this is the way it works. Example, Amy is the only one on the shift. she cooks, serves, cashiers in a swing shift inhouse employee cafeteria.
Base wage $10.00 for sales $1 to $299
.................$11.00 for sales $ 300 to $374
.................$ 12,00 for sales $ 375 to $449
.................$ 14.00 for sales $ 450 and over
This an example of a slower shift that we provide for our client. I used to have two people on this shift, I now have one good one. I also have some cooks making $16 to $18 an hour at times. Its nice to have the shoe on the other foot. I tried to make them do their job for all the other reasons, I guess the only thing that works is MONEY.............P.S if I treated my clients with only Dollar signs in my eyes, I would have been out of business years ago.................Take care.....Bill
post #4 of 20
Ahem. As someone that works in the industry, pooled tips are worth it. And cooks almost allways (they should and get fired if they don't) have a high sense of perfection and self pride. Its your creation thats going out there and is being seen. Cooks work longer shifts than servers. And tips are that extra something to keep you going.
post #5 of 20
I think the Op was referring to pooling tips for FOH, not including BOH in the equation.

But since you brought it up,as someone who works BOH, and who is married to someone who had worked FOH for years, I can see both sides to the argument.
I land on the side that says pay the cooks what they are worth and let the servers keep what they get tipped.
They should kick down to their support staff (the bussers), but shouldn't have to tip out their peers (the cooks).

Back to the OP, I've seen the good and bad of pooling.
In the best case, everyone works hard to increase the pool.
In the worst, someone slacks figuring that an extra 20-40 bucks from the pool isn't worth workingharder for.
I think it comes down to the staff, and also to their leaders.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #6 of 20
Oh G-d I hate places that pull tips, that totally defeats the purpose.
post #7 of 20

Pooling Tips

When I first started waitressing back in 1971 my first job was in a tip pool place. One girl who had been there a few years was notorius for always getting the slowest station and would never lift a finger to help anyone else on the floor, yet she took home the same amount as the rest of us everyday. It completely soured me on ever working a tip pool place again, every day my contribution to the pool would be between $10 and $20 more than most others and yet I came home with less and worked harder, couldn't see the point in it. I managed not to work in a pool share place again until 1990 when I went into a different kind of place than I had ever worked before. The owners were either very unique or completely out of their minds (depending on your point of view) but the way it went was this, I walked in cold off the street the day before they opened and applied for a job, I was "a friend of a friend" of one of the owners, didn't know these 2 owners from a hole in the ground but sat and chatted with them a few minutes and they told me the staff had been hired months before (opening had been delayed by a hang up with the C of O) I left with an invite to come opening day just to hang out and enjoy a dinner on the house. I showed up the next day and most of the staff they had hired didn't show up so I got pressed into service (still no job) but after the night ended they did offer me work. The place was a complete madhouse with a line out the door from day one. After the third day they announced it would be run as a pool tip place and I figured I would just hang around until I found another place to work just based on my experience years ago with tip pools. Three weeks later as the staff and I walked into work the owners sat us down and announced I would be running the place and handed me the keys ( I did say they were nuts, right?) It was run as a tip pool but everybody, and I mean everybody pulled their weight. The way it was set up was that while I oversaw everything, the staff had definite input into those who didn't pull their own weight, and those that didn't, or who ever used the line "thats not my table or station" didn't last long. It was everybodys job to see that every customer was taken care of at all times, we had bus guys but they also took care of tables if a customer asked them for anything, the wait staff also bussed tables to help out the bus staff and I did anything that was needed to be done. The tip pool was split 70 to the wait staff and 30 to the bus staff. If it was thought that you were slouching around or not pulling your weight and contributing your fair share to the pool you got a warning and after that if you didn't perform well, you were gone. The only ones who didn't share in the pool were the people in the kitchen and because the place was so busy I really thought they should have, the kitchen was one of the most cramped and inefficient ones I have ever seen, they also had to cook for the attached deli which did about 100 deliveries every night, our cooks were some of the hardest workers I had ever seen in all the years I was in the business. I would try to make it a little more pleasant for them and either cook for them myself or order pizza or chinese for them at the end of some nights and pay for it from my pocket just to let them know that even if no one else appreciated the job they did most of the time, I did. While restaurants are known for frequent staff turnovers this one kept the original staff for more than 6 years, I think more than anything tho it was due to the fact that they had real input into the daily workings and the people they worked with. On RP's original question, if a customer left a tip and then wanted to give something extra to a particular wait person or busser I felt it was right that that part of a gratuity went to that particular person only, that situation did come up in the first year and while most of the staff didn't agree with me I saw it as the proper thing to do and it remained that way until I left years later.:lips:
post #8 of 20
Before implementing a "tip pool", you may want to check the "labor law" in your jurisdiction. It may not be legal as many places specify that "tips" belong to the tipped employee, not management.
Chef,
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post #9 of 20
wall of text, ouch

but still a good story, just need to hit 'enter' more :)
post #10 of 20
I was a career waitress until my feet gave out. I had only one job in which the tips were pooled, and a percentage of the total was given to the bus help, before the servers got their share. I was not at all fond of the concept, mainly because the servers who agreed to work under that condition were, generally speaking, lazy. They knew that whether they worked hard or laid back, they were still going home with the same money. But the job was close to home, and management was willing to let me cater my schedule around my family's needs. Even though I worked there quite a while, I still disliked the "tip pool". It rewards the lazy. But even worse, in my opinion, it robs and insults those who care enough to give good service.
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post #11 of 20
"Pooled tips" is a form of "socialism", from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.

An "intellegent wait-person" recognizes that their success depends on the "bus staff" as well as the "kitchen staff" and rewards each accordingly. Those who don't, will suffer the consequences, slow "table cleaning" and slow "food service".

In California, according to the labor laws, "tips" BELONG to the server, period! What the "server" does with them is the "server's choice"!

The "server" can make wise choices or selfish choices, that is their option.

My "menu prices" cover the costs associated with presenting the plate to the customer, that includes labor (kitchen, bussing, serving), overhead, and COFS.

Anything else is a "gratuity", freely offered by the customer to the "server" and shared by the "server" as the "server" sees fit (smart ones "survive", others find another job)

Management's job is simple, those who "cooperate", remain employed, those who don't, are "terminated".
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post #12 of 20
Pete, you're clearly implying that tip pooling is prohibited in California, and you're wrong. The law is unambiguous, long settled, and not open to your conclusion. The situation is covered by statute, California Labor Code. sec. 351; and I can see why you might be confused by its text. It's true that owners and managers are prohibited from participating in tip pools. However, the statute does not prohibit management from creating a tip sharing arrangment as long as the pool is limited to employees within the "normal chain of service" (and excludes owners and managers). Contrary to your assertion, service employees working for establishments with appropriately executed tip pooling arrangments have no choice but to participate. See, Henning v. Industrial Welfare Commission (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1262, for an excellent description of the history and application of section 351.

In fact, the definition of "normal chain of service," was just extended a few days ago in my very own 2d District in Etheridge v. Reins (2009), slip opinion. The Etheridge court held that California law does not restrict mandatory tip pools to employees providing "direct table service." Rather any any employee who participates in the chain of service may be required to share and participate in the pool.

BDL
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post #13 of 20
I stand corrected, and I'll let my labor attorney know as well ;)
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post #14 of 20
It's hard to believe any California "labor law" attorney doesn't know this.

BDL
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post #15 of 20
hmmmm,

relative of Eric Etheridge of The Opinionator?
post #16 of 20
We're "in the back woods" here, the information I was given: qualified employees may set up a "tip pool" as long as management has nothing to do with the structure, setup, or payout AND does not receive any "benefit" from the pooled tips.

Additionally, management cannot require nor prevent participation.

Apparently, there is more to be learned....
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post #17 of 20
Management is prohibited from sharing in the tip pool. To that extent, you and your attorney (?) are right.

Management is also prohibited from using tips as an offset against an employee's minimum or "market" wages. In other words, the practice of "tip crediting," is barred. See, Henning v. Industrial Welfare Com. (1988) 46 Cal.3d 1262, 1270-1275; and Industrial Welfare Com. v. Superior Court (1980) 27 Cal.3d 690, 729, 730.

There is no legal obstacle to management establishing the pool or its structure -- as long as the structure fits within the strictures of Cal. Lab. C. sec. 351. See, Leighton v. Old Heidelberg, Ltd. (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 1062. Moreover, in the event that an establishment does have a conforming tip pool, an employee may neither refuse to participate, nor opt out. Id; and see also the previously mentioned Etheridge v. Reins (2009) Slip Opinion, http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions...ts/B205005.PDF.

I hope you misunderstood your attorney. If, in fact, you're accurately reporting legal advice from a practicing attorney, it's a little scary. (S)he should be more familiar with the law upon which (s)he advises you. "Back woods" is no excuse for a lawyer. Same law, same Lexis, same internet, same standard of care.

Your attorney should read every case I've cited. I've left them here more for her or his benefit than yours. (S)he could do worse than to start with Etheridge -- not so much for its holding, but because of the discussion beginning on p. 8 (slip opinion).

Good luck,
BDL

PS. The "style" of this post should be sufficient for your attorney to at least begin her or his independent research. At minimum, (s)he owes you an apology.
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post #18 of 20
I appreciate the information and will transmit it to our legal counsel for their review and comment.
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #19 of 20
Pooled tips establishments made great impression on me! very cool service and tasty food!
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post #20 of 20
In fact, the definition of "normal chain of service," was just extended a few days ago in my very own 2d District in Etheridge v. Reins (2009), slip opinion. The Etheridge court held that California law does not restrict mandatory tip pools to employees providing "direct table service." Rather any any employee who participates in the chain of service may be required to share and participate in the pool.

BDL

Case just settled in Florida. Palm Beach Kennel Club VS Dealers in Poker room.

For years pooling of all tips, dealers, pit bosses, managers, desk man. etc .Dealers sued claiming they had direct contact with patrons(verbally and while dealing cards at tables) whereas managers and the rest did not .Court ruled in favor of dealers and awarded back tips(in form of additional salary to all of them whether they still worked their or did not. In a gambeling place we are talking Thousands Here.
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