Monday, June 8, 2015

Tips or Wages for Bartenders?

     An old debate has arisen again about whether wages or tips are the better way for bartenders.   As a bartender and a bar patron, I can see both sides of this issue.   As a confident Bartender/mixologist, I feel that I would rather take my chances with tips.  There are several reasons for this.  First of all it is like being a salesman in any other field.  I look at them like sales commissions for selling of any other industry.   For the less out going people, the tips are much slower to fill up the jar.   For them, a salary might be a better way.

     There are several others on both sides of this issue who have com
forward in an interesting article I read just the other day.

     “There is nothing like the rush of a busy night and watching the tip jars fill up rapidly”  
I believe having your income based on tips rather than a set salary is part of what keeps service industry staff hospitable.     When you know your money is based on performance, well, you perform.   There is nothing quite like amazing service – you remember it.   As Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you make them feel.”   A good bartender can make everyone’s night, and should be paid accordingly. If you’ve ever seen the best bartenders work a room, it’s an art form, and they deserve to be suitably compensated. As a bar owner, it is important to foster an environment that encourages the bartender to go above and beyond, and a tip income is one of the best ways.   "Those at the top of their game create the money they make. I have seen bartenders turn a usually slow Monday night shift into one of the most profitable by creating an environment that encourages guests to come back time and time again."

     On the other hand, one of the biggest benefits we hope to provide by offering our staff a fixed

salary is quality of life and a regular schedule – this industry is notorious for its chaotic lifestyle. What’s more, if you’re working for tips you become incentivized to work Friday and Saturday nights. By eliminating that incentive and creating an even playing field, it enables us to have some quality control over the other nights and be consistently great.   Ultimately, the biggest issue this will solve is consistency of pay. By having a set salary, our bartenders are never going to run into that scenario. Being in an industry that can cull you off on your way to work and not pay you is so absurd; that should not be legal. With us, we’ll be paying bartenders every week regardless, and if they work more than 40 hours, they’ll receive extra.   There’s a guy called Michael Lynn who’s a doctor at Cornell University and has written more than 50 papers on tipping. He shows if you have bad service, you still tip the same amount out of habit – you just don’t come back to the venue. By removing tips, the pressure is really on us because people will be more outspoken about the service they receive.


     I guess that it is like so many other issues there are valid arguments on both sides, but your performance behind the bar is still the most important issue.  I feel you have more incentive when your pay is based on that performance.   ;o)