Tip Outs

Junior Burger
2010/01/27 01:45:31
You may recall that my husband and I are preparing to get possession of a small full service family restaurant in our small town. When we get up and rolling I was thinking about having a tip out program for the staff. For those who aren't sure what I'm talking about, it's when the servers give a portion of their tips (a percentage of sales) to a pool that is divided between the kitchen workers, bussing staff, and hosts/hostesses.

This was a policy that was in effect at a popular restaurant I used to work at, and is the case for some others I know of. This was dispensed on a biweekly basis so that one week you'd get the tip out and the next, you'd get your paycheck. Overall, it was well received, and servers were definitely inspired to give great service to ensure they brought some good tips home to cover their tip out and then some. Back when I worked at this restaurant (ahhh! almost 20 years ago but seems like last year!) you might get between 30 to 100 bucks depending on how many hours you worked and what your position was. Not huge, but better than a kick in the pants.

I'd like to know how many others out there have worked in this type of system, and methods of making it work effectively. What was your percentage to tip out, and that sort of thing.


Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 03:45:34
  When I worked at Old Chicago years ago, we had a similar system. I was a cook and my pay checks were stretched really thin. It was always nice to get that extra 40-50 $ every two weeks on off pay day. In the kitcken we had a clip board with every kitchen employees name and duties. If you didn't finish your work, you were docked 1 weeks worth of tips every time some one else had to do it. This was then split evenly with the rest of the kitchen. Needless to say, most of us were very good about finishing our tasks. The percentage was 1% of the servers total food sales not including liquor. The wait staff was required to tip out their bussers 10 % of their total sales and the bartenders got 10 % of the total liquor sales. If the liquor sales were sluggish and the total sales were less than $20.00 then it was a $2.00 minimum.
  I thought the system worked well except it was hard to tell if the kitchen manager was pocketing the docked workers tips or if it really went to the rest of the staff. I vote the former.  My tips were fairly usual but I know some of them were getting docked.


David O.
Junior Burger
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 08:36:14
Thanks for the info, David! I never considered 'docking' any of it before....not sure if I'd wanna go down that road or not, but if I ever have insubordination issues or something I might consider it...?
Curbside Grill
Filet Mignon
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 09:07:10
Never heard of this, thought tips pooled and divided at end of shift. Interesting thoughts here.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 13:07:51
My grandmother worked as a short order cook and/or a waitress all her life.  She always hated the pooling of tips and she walked out of more than one restaurant that did it.  She said the only waitresses that liked it was the lazy ones.  I've known other waitresses that hated the idea as well.  Why don't you work your waitresses for a while and then see if they want to.
Junior Burger
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 14:28:13
I'd have to agree with your grandmother....pooling tips for the servers will mean that someone's gonna get a raw deal. With the tipout plan I'm thinking of using, the servers keep what they earn, minus the tipout that goes to non-servers.
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 16:34:54

My grandmother worked as a short order cook and/or a waitress all her life.  She always hated the pooling of tips and she walked out of more than one restaurant that did it.  She said the only waitresses that liked it was the lazy ones.  I've known other waitresses that hated the idea as well.  Why don't you work your waitresses for a while and then see if they want to.

I've worked every station in the front of the house to the bar to the kitchen and when tips were on the line I followed several personal rules.

1) I work extra hard for my tips and I deserve what MY customers offer - pooling with other wait staff is next to socialism as far as I'm concerned. I got the best sections because I worked the hardest and went above and beyond what my responsibilities were. My customers asked for me by name.

2) I took D%$n good care of my runners, expeditor, busboys, bartenders and kitchen staff above any customary tip out.

3) I never expected tips working in the kitchen but did get bonuses based on food cost goals. Sometimes cash - sometimes meal expenses. When I got the occasional tip from a waitron unit, it was greatly appreciated and I usually went the extra mile for that person.
Filet Mignon
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 17:12:06
How big is this Restaurant, how many tables, and how many wait staff... I agree with Waydeg, let the waitress keep their tips, it's a kick in the butt to expect them to give great customer service with partial reward. The wait staff is the front line of service and in a lot of cases bring customers back.................Billyb
Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 19:11:43
Servers should tip out the bartenders and the bussers -- that's it.
Junior Burger
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 19:46:57
Good points, on both sides. Thanks!

FWIW there are 24 tables. Staff has yet to be hired but at peak I imagine about 4 servers, maybe 5. Both kitchen and front of house staff will be offered incentives yet to be determined in addition to tips so I don't feel too bad about a tipout system. Waitstaff starts at 9 bucks an hour. Minimum wage is 8 but in our town the going rate is 9 for waitstaff.

It's not a done deal yet but I think it has merit.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Tip Outs 2010/01/27 20:46:19
  I never liked the tip pooling system. I worked in a country club once where we pooled our tips and I always noticed that some waiters were slacking and others were toiling away. We all received the same percentage regardless of output.

  I would much rather have been able to collect tips personally from my clients but that was against the rules. NO CASH was the policy! The members just signed the tab and 12% was added to the ticket "for gratuity." I never saw 12% of my total sales as it was split with those people who IMHO were slackers.  I could have made a lot of money if I had collected 15% directly from my clients. Holiday bonuses were a different matter. I regularly received 100$ bills in nice little envelopes as most members didn't want to handle cash. ( How gouache! )


David O.
Junior Burger
Re:Tip Outs 2012/06/13 05:07:57
I think it's a great idea to tip out,especially for the kitchen.The percentage of a waiters tips is so tiny compared to what they make even though their pay cheque is  pretty small. I have 2 brothers that work in restaurants in Montreal,and they both take home 1000$ in tips,besides their pay,which for them is considered gas money. Whomever complains about a tip out is not only extremely cheap and greedy, but very uneducated and self-centered , and here's why... First off, a cook is the one that can (make or break what your gonna make$$$),because if the people are not satisfied with the food,and believe me,the cook can make sure of that( if he wants),the waiter wont get a penny,or an extremely small tip and the client might not come back,which is another loss also for the business. Secondly,if the cooks are motivated(and believe me,money motivates people),they will make sure the presentation,and taste is more than just good,because they know the happier the client,the more the waiter gets tipped,the more the cooks get.And besides,for all those cooks out there,and for me,over 22 years experience,and an Inter-Continental Red Seal by the age of 29,and I'm 46 right now,it's a tough job in the kitchen,with constant pressure,heat and no time to even piss at times,they deserve a little break,and compensation,and tip-out fits just right.
post edited by SERPENYO78 - 2012/06/13 05:16:27
Junior Burger
Re:Tip Outs 2012/06/14 11:28:17
easier to implement with a new staff than incorporate into an existing one IMO
Bistro a go-go
Re:Tip Outs 2012/06/14 16:40:44
if the food comes out flawlessly let servers hand it to the kitchen pool personally. my kitchen guys make good $$ and wait staff work for 3.00 an hour plus tips (usually 15% of total sales average over a month) so to give away 10% might be a reason for servers to leave and go elsewhere and when we had manditory tip out i saw nights where servers made nothing after tipout and charge tips pulled out so i dont agree with big numbers tip outs unless your talking 1.5% of sales, maybe 2%?  dont kill the servers its too hard to find them that are pros.
maybe throw $$ into a pool every night to buy party favors for a server/kitchen quarterly blow out appreciation party/grill out?
post edited by Bistro a go-go - 2012/06/14 16:42:22
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Tip Outs 2012/06/14 20:18:32
I was always happy to get a cold beer.
Buck & Vi's
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Tip Outs 2012/06/17 10:26:23
yea i've never done the rest. gig , but to wash dishes one nite when i was 16, but i cant see tipping the kitchen they get at least the min.  hourly wage , the waitress gets 3 bucks + tips....with that said i've often thought it should be turned around... if the meal was good tip the cook if wasnt dont, the wait staff gets hourly pay.