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Tipping 360 Part 3: Staff to tap out if tipping ends?

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The debate over no-tipping policies has restaurant staff saying one thing, but seemingly doing another. In Part 3 of our “Tipping 360” series, we asked about a dozen servers what they would do if tipping went away. In the abstract, at least, many would jump ship. That’s the fear for operators: 55 percent told us their biggest concern is that servers would object; another 32 percent worried servers would seek employment elsewhere.

But restaurateurs who have made the plunge are finding a different reality. “No one’s quit yet,” Tom Colicchio told Restaurant Business, after doing away with tipping during lunch at Craft in New York City. And Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in New York City said late last year, “My front-of-house servers and bussers like it, because it lowers the ‘Will I make money tonight?’ stress of every shift.”

While many servers we talked to saw a gap between front- and back-of-house pay, not one thought tip policies would change in the next five years. So for now, the issue remains unsettled science.

If the restaurant where you serve got rid of tipping and switched it for a higher base pay and consistent wage, how would you react?

  • “I would be upset. Servers who don’t like the tip policy and want to move to higher wages are your ‘bad servers’ who want to continue to get paid for doing a poor job.”
     
  • “If tipping did change, the service industry would not be my job of choice.”
     
  • “There’s no way they’d raise server salaries to match [what I make in tips], so now I’m making less money for the same amount of work? No thanks.”
     
  • “I’d quit.”
     
  • “If tipping went away and the wage went up, I would not want to be a server any longer! … As a server, I make more in three days than I would in a 40-hour work week.”

How would a no-tipping policy affect your job, your workplace or your performance? 

  • “If anything, I probably wouldn’t try as hard to push drinks or more food on people, because I know I would be getting base pay.”
     
  • “Removing tipping also removes the incentive for some to work hard … you take away that money motivator and even your good servers will start to slack.”
     
  • “I always give 100 percent of what I’m doing, so it doesn’t really matter. I treat my customers who tip and don’t tip the same.”
     
  • “I think some people would still try to tip.”
     
  • “Tips are key for better service. They’d have to start servers at $16 an hour, at least, with overtime to make it worth it.”

Read more about the issue from consumers’ and operators’ points of view. 

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