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A Few Tips on Tips

Friedrichs - Tips on Tips - 2-29-2020_2

What is the appropriate way to tip a barista? Similar questions are constantly asked in the service industry for like positions. Though tipping at a café can feel a bit awkward, it’s a custom that is becoming increasingly ingrained in American culture.

Some customers tip for exemplary service, others to compensate for lower wage-earners and still others for alternative reasons. The bottom line is the concept of tipping probably isn’t going anywhere. So, the question for customers becomes not “Should I tip?” but “How should I tip?”

Drink the Pool-Aid

There are state and federal guidelines and requirements surrounding tips and minimum wage requirements. These give employers choices on how to structure payment with consideration given to tip accruement. This includes pooling tips.

How do you pool tips? All tips are put into a collective pot, which typically gets divided at the end of each month. Tips can be distributed based on hours, role or criteria. How tips are divvied up is at the discretion of the café owner or manager — just make sure whichever method is used is communicated clearly with all employees.

The benefit of pooling tips is an increased sense of teamwork and camaraderie as employees work toward the same goal or goals.

Tip Before You Dip

Some cafés have baristas and waiters/waitresses and bussers. Some just have baristas who perform a variety of duties. Some have a combination of those positions. It is considered good dining etiquette in the U.S. to leave a tip. The amount a customer tips is arbitrary, based on their personal views and immediate experience.

Customers with to-go orders typically tip at the register, while dine-in customers tend to leave tips on their table prior to leaving. Individual tips benefit highly motivated employees, but can discourage new or insecure employees and can even disgruntle less motivated employees.

Without a tip pool, it is up to café owners to make decisions about who gets a tip or tips. Are tips distributed based on when it was given during the customer experience or on performance or even on some other discernable criteria? Once again, clear-cut regulations in the workplace will eliminate confusion and frustration surrounding the extra cash.

Choices, Choices

Tips create a bevy of choices for café owners. The best part of having choices is the freedom to structure payment and tips around the kind of culture you wish to create for employees and how the customer experience is shaped. Clarity is your best friend when making decisions; making the tipping framework crystal clear will go a long way with employee satisfaction and gives you clear-cut guidelines to work with.