The end of a snowy, wet week here in the Northeastern US and it makes me glad we can have a little Foodie Friday Fun.  We usually go out to eat on Friday nights and as we did so last week I got to thinking about how servers get paid.  That, in turn, lead to a broader thought about restaurants in general and how their business has changed with the growth of social.  Let me explain.

Servers work primarily for tips.  There’s usually some sort of minimum wage paid but their livelihood depends on the instant feedback a tip provides.  Bad service can mean a couple of hours working for not much money.  Doing a great job can mean extra cash.  Oh sure – in some places  tips are pooled and a good server gets shafted while the lazy ones and the owner take an equal share.  For the most part, however, how much you earn is tied to how well you do your job.  As an aside, that’s why I rarely leave a bad tip – unless there was no service or it was an absolute disaster the server did some work for me and they should be paid.

It’s an interesting dynamic.  The server can be perfectly competent but if the kitchen is badly run the service seems to be a mess as well.  The difference is the cooks are all on salary in most places while the servers can suffer the consequences.  Where the overall operation feels the pain is in the magnifying effect of social media.  A bad experience used to be a secret.  Today they’re aggregated, searched, and considered as people make their dining decisions.  It can kill a business or it can help everyone involved to do very well.  Why do I bring this up?

We should all operate as if we’re servers.  While for some of us compensation can be tied directly to how well or poorly we do our jobs, for most people in corporate life we make what we make – compensation is something we negotiate when we’re hired even if some of it might be tied to a bonus or to stock holdings.  We don’t go home most days with a paycheck that mirrors how well we performed.  Too bad – it might force a lot of people to consider the performance more often.

What would you earn if everyone with whom you came in contact had the option to tip you for the job you did?  What kind of tips would you give out to those with whom you’ve chosen to do business?   Something I’m thinking about as the week comes to an end.  You?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

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