5 Key Reasons Not to Pocket Tips When You Should Be Splitting Them

5 Key Reasons Not to Pocket Tips When You Should Be Splitting Them

When you work in a bar or restaurant where tips are split, it’s critical to the entire functionality of the restaurant environment that you continue to split your tips fairly. Sure, it’s frustrating. You could be having a great night, completely on, while your coworker is struggling to get the simplest drink order right. You could be carrying a heavier load than your coworkers, and therefore receiving more tips as a result. Those are your tips, and you’ve earned them. If the policy at your establishment is that tips are split, however, it’s critical that you split them as required. Pocketing tips, no matter how well-deserved you think they are, is unacceptable behavior–and there are some very good reasons why.

1. Your workplace environment is built on trust. Check out this reddit thread about a bartender who chose to pocket tips instead of sharing them evenly with her coworkers. Even a suspicion that you’re pocketing tips can lead to distrust among your coworkers. Get caught doing it, and you’ll find yourself ostracized and distrusted–or worse.

2. Tip sharing builds teamwork. Everyone has a bad night occasionally. Maybe you’ve had the longest day on record, you haven’t been feeling your best, or family drama hit just before you came into work. Perhaps it’s just one of those shifts when you feel as though you can’t get anything right: just remembering drink orders is a huge challenge, much less anything more complicated. When those days happen, you desperately want you coworkers to pick up the slack for you–and may even need it in order to keep your establishment running as smoothly as it needs to run. Tip sharing encourages an atmosphere of camaraderie: all of you work together to keep the customers as happy as possible because each table has an influence on the tips you take home at the end of the night.

3. You don’t always get a choice in your customers. Some customers are naturally great tippers. Perhaps they’ve worked in a service job themselves, or maybe they just have a great sense of empathy for people who work in the industry. Whatever the case, even if they receive sub-par service, they’re still likely to leave a decent tip. Others, on the other hand, cling tightly to every dollar and won’t leave a great tip even if they receive the best service of the night. You can’t control which customers come your way, but a section full of poor tippers can completely ruin your night! On the other hand, across the course of the night, good and bad tippers tend to even out, so sharing your tips helps keep your income steadier.

4. It’s unethical. You want to have a reputation for integrity, especially if you commonly work with money. One of the fastest ways to destroy that reputation is to fail to put your contribution into the tip jar. Keep in mind that when you leave at the end of the night, you’re getting a percentage of your coworkers’ tips. As a result, you owe them the same percentage of yours.

5. It could cost you your job. If you’re pocketing your tips instead of putting them in the communal tip jar as company policy dictates, you’re stealing from your coworkers. In most restaurants and bars, stealing from the company is grounds for immediate termination. There’s no way around it: pocketing tips is stealing. It could quickly result in you not having a job to pocket tips from. All things considered, at the end of the night, it’s probably not worth it for the little bit of extra money you’re able to get from it.

Seeing your hard-earned tips make their way into a communal jar can be disheartening. It’s less disheartening, however, to realize that when great tips come in, it doesn’t matter who was in charge of the table. Everyone in the bar or restaurant benefits! Don’t give into the temptation to slide your tips into your own pocket instead of adding them to the communal jar. In the end, it’s not worth it.

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Implementing Responsible Alcohol Service in Your Establishment

Implementing Responsible Alcohol Service in Your Establishment

Each state regulates alcohol — from its manufacturing, to selling, and the actions resulting from its use. This includes assessing the liability of any violations. If you serve alcohol in your restaurant, it is important that you and each staff member are aware of the laws, rules, and best practices in your state. Serving alcohol involves many risks. 

The failure to act responsibly may result in fines, loss of your liquor license, increased costs of insurance, or even imprisonment. Ultimately, it could result in losing your business.

Consequences of Serving an Intoxicated Guest

In almost every state, it is illegal to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. There are numerous types of liabilities associated including criminal, administrative (liquor control commission), and broad civil liabilities via the Dram Shop Law. Therefore, it is imperative that you develop specific policies that ensure the responsible serving of alcohol in your establishment. This includes having a clear concise process for the difficult situation of denying service to an intoxicated guest.

Alcohol Awareness Training

Most liability insurances now require that all members of a restaurant, bar, or tavern staff undergo this type of training. Additionally, it is important because it helps underscore the importance of responsible service as well as the consequences of failing to do so. It also provides bartenders and servers with a factual base that enables them to make informed and often difficult, service related decisions with confidence. In addition to outside training, it is important that you have internal policies that define what to do when faced with these judgment calls.

The failure to act responsibly may result in fines, loss of your liquor license, increased costs of insurance, or even imprisonment.

Situational Awareness Training and Empowerment

Each member of your staff, no matter if they serve alcohol are important in the success of these policies, as often situations like these can be prevented. Train your staff to be observant. They should be listening and watching what is going on in your restaurant. Encouraging them to use their best judgment, empower each staff member to report any person or group they believe may present a problem. This is the best opportunity you have to prevent an incident from occurring. Once a report has been made, that is the time to have a manager or the owner drop by the table, speak to the patron, further assess the situation, and perhaps intervene.

Other Preventative Measures

  • Servers and bartenders keep track of how many drinks have been served.
  • Don’t serve drinks ordered for someone who is not yet present. As this person could already be intoxicated or perhaps even underage.
  • Have a visible authority presence in the bar area. This could be security or management.
  • Have signage posted with your policy

…it is important that they have the trust and support of management.

Tips to Refusing Service to an Intoxicated Patron

Because this is a judgment call that servers and bartenders are in the best position to make, it is important that they have the trust and support of management. Having a written policy that outlines the process is also helpful. These factors make it easier for them to exercise good judgment of how and when to refuse service. Robert Plotkin, founder of Bar Media offers the following advice on how to cut off an intoxicated guest.

  • When in doubt – don’t serve- Make this your policy. Because of the potential liability, isn’t it better to err on the side of caution?
  • Keep it simple- In the fewest words possible, explain that as a matter of policy, you will not be serving any more alcohol.
  • If possible, be discreet- There is no need to cause a scene that may embarrass the patron and potentially provoke an incident.
  • Utilize tact and diplomacy- Avoid using inflammatory language, disapproval, or criticism.
  • Remain firm- Once you have committed to this decision there is no turning back. To do so would undermine your credibility and authority.
  • Keep everyone in the loop- Notify the other staff and servers so that they do not mistakenly serve the guest additional alcohol.

For general precaution, management on-duty should be notified to take any further action needed, allowing the bartender or server to resume their regular roles. Management should determine whether to offer and arrange alternate transportation for the patron.

Keeping the patrons safe from harm and your establishment safe from liability is a job that falls to every employee. Knowing when and how to cut off an intoxicated guest is a judgment call often left to the bartender and servers. It is sometimes awkward and difficult, however, with proper training, guidelines, and internal support it can be accomplished with dignity and tact. 

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How to Work Your Way Up and Climb the Restaurant Ladder

How to Work Your Way Up and Climb the Restaurant Ladder

Many of us have been presented the opportunity to move up to management in a restaurant. Some seek it out, while others seem to kinda just stumble into it. Regardless, the reality is that the opportunity does exist for those who wish to pursue it further. Every restaurant has their own process, some being more formal/professional than others. Here are a few pointers for anyone who is working in a restaurant and has entertained the idea of becoming a manager.

Use your voice

Restaurant management is constantly looking at their staff to identify who should be approached about a leadership role. If you are wanting to move up the ladder, then that should be communicated at the very beginning. Have a conversation, be it in the interview process or at some point during training. It also helps if you communicate it to the right person, i.e. the GM, Chef or Owner. Don’t worry if you seek a management role later in your tenure, just don’t expect anyone to be able to read your mind.

Take every opportunity to refine your talents and expand on your skill-set.

Become a trainer

Trainers are the staff leaders of the restaurant and are usually the people that are the most knowledgeable about product and service. They are also who the management team goes to for feedback and suggestions. If you are wanting to be taken seriously as a true leader within the restaurant, this is a role you must obtain and perform well in. Being able to work with new staff not only helps them learn, but it also allows you to develop your skills as a teacher. Think of trainers as the “elders” of the tribe, they are the ones that pass on the traditions and culture of the company. 

Lead by example

Nobody likes someone who is a know-it-all or is bossy, so don’t be that person. A true leader leads by example and sets a positive tone for others to follow. Whether you notice it or not, people are looking at you to see how you react in different situations. Keep a calm and cool demeanor during high-stress moments and lend a helping hand when needed. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but they have to know they can count on you when the going gets tough. If you cannot be recognized as a leader amongst your peers, don’t expect it later when and if you enter a management role.

Think of trainers as the “elders” of the tribe, they are the ones that pass on the traditions and culture of the company.

Develop professionally

Take every opportunity to refine your talents and expand on your skill-set. Being a leader is difficult, even for those who have “natural” ability. A lot of companies will offer training throughout the year or will even pay for classes or certifications that help you grow professionally. Often being the boss just means you have been deemed the one responsible for everything, which is a heavy burden to bare. In order to make a real impact, you must bring more to the table. How’s your wine knowledge?  What areas of the restaurant are you most unfamiliar with? Identify where you can improve and seek out ways to do so.

Obviously, there are multiple ways to move up the ladder and many different routes can be taken. These are just a few methods we suggest utilizing to move up the ranks. It is a totally different scenario for one to be hired into a management role as opposed to someone working their way up. For people without management experience, working your way up is the best option. Head to our job board to see what entry-level opportunities await you or if you already have a management background click here


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Why Your Restaurant Should Focus on Kids (Hint: To Increase Profits)

Why Your Restaurant Should Focus on Kids (Hint: To Increase Profits)

Want to increase your restaurant’s bottom line?  Consider making your eatery kid-friendly. According to Bloomberg, Americans’ spending on dining out has outpaced their spending on groceries for the first time. This includes parents taking their children out to eat in restaurants. With dining out becoming more popular, catering to families makes financial sense. Kids might not eat as much as adults, but making your restaurant kid-friendly can increase your overall volume.  

Include a Variety of Kids’ Options on the Menu

Recent surveys by the American Culinary Federation show that healthy, locally grown menu items are a top choice when eating in a restaurant. This applies to parents as much as anyone else, particularly when they read news stories about the dangers of childhood obesity. Offering healthy menu items for children does not mean that you have to ditch the hot dogs, French fries and macaroni and cheese, but it does mean that adding items like sliced fruit, whole grain bread, low-fat milk and lean meats are a good idea. Parents are more likely to return to a restaurant where they know that they can feed their kids a delicious healthy meal.

With dining out becoming more popular, catering to families makes financial sense.

Pay Attention to Service

Remember that kids are customers, too. They should not just be an afterthought. Respect all customers, regardless of age. Warmly greet parents with children in tow and give them a larger table so that they have room to store all of their gear. A larger table also gives parents room to move items out of kids’ reach if necessary. If appropriate, ask the parents if their kids would like a high chair or booster seat.

Children, depending on age, want to be treated like adults and appreciate being asked directly what they would like to order. Serve kids’ meals quickly, even if the adult food is not ready. Parents very much appreciate speedy service. Show flexibility when it comes to food items, since many children these days have food allergies. Be ready to offer substitutions and give information about food ingredients if needed.

  • Make sure every bathroom has a changing station. Put a short stool under the sink so that children can stand on it when they wash their hands.
  • Offer an online menu. Parents appreciate knowing what options are available for their kids ahead of time.
  • Have kids-eat-free days. Offer a free child meal for every adult meal purchased. This is a simple way to attract more families.

Ensure that Children Have Plenty to Do 

Children become bored easily and quickly. Ensure that they have plenty to do while waiting for their food to keep them from acting out. Provide child-friendly appetizers, paper tablecloths, coloring books and crayons. Make the menus colorful, entertaining and even interactive. They might have a word search game, a crossword puzzle or a fun worksheet on the back. You can also hand these out to kids and their parents while they wait for a table.

Remember that kids are customers, too.

Consider creating a kids’ corner. It should be a place that is visible from every angle in the restaurant so that parents can see their kids at all times. Add pillows, coloring books, drawing papers, Lego blocks, reading books and other kid favorites to give children a place to play while waiting for their meal. While these areas can often be tedious to manage, they serve as great ways for parents to offer their kids distractions when patience runs short. Rotate the toys out to avoid old ones getting grimy.

Making your restaurant a child-friendly place takes a little work but is worth the effort.  Parents will appreciate it, and children will, too. They might even become lifelong customers.

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Sirvo Says: How to Spend Less and Make More in Denver

Sirvo Says: How to Spend Less and Make More in Denver

Denver is one of the best cities in the country to live right now. With a great restaurant scene and numerous events every week, there is a reason why we are #1! All that being said, the city is getting more and more expensive to live in. The rising cost of living can often stand in the way of truly enjoying everything this great city has to offer. With that in mind, we thought we’d offer a few suggestions on how to do Denver right. Let us present, Sirvo Says: How to Spend Less and Make More in Denver.

Drink cheaper

Alright, this is a no-brainer but we suggest taking advantage of all the great happy hours across town. The population boom has been both a curse and a blessing for many restaurants and bars in the area, with some seeing a rise or decline in sales due to more options. One thing is for sure though, they are all competing for your attention. Which means, some of the best value deals this city has ever seen! A lot of places have even extended their happy hour to start as early as 2pm or 3pm. Denverites like to do two things for sure, get out of the house and drink. So, if you’re gonna do it anyway, don’t break the bank.

Do things alone…

It’s great having a large group of friends, there is always something to do and someone to do it with. Sometimes this comes at a cost. For example, how many times have you gone to split the check and someone doesn’t even cover what they owe? Or that one roommate who always says “I’ll Venmo you”, but doesn’t even have the app downloaded on their phone? If you are truly looking to save money when enjoying this great city, do it alone. It will save you a lot in the long run and is the perfect way to show your true independence.

…Or with a friend

Okay, so not all of us are great by ourselves and it is kind of nice to have a partner in crime. But like just one! Having a roommate or someone to split a meal with makes things soooo much cheaper. This means that you can afford more things to do together like, concerts/festivals, events, going out to eat/drink, trips to the mountains etc. Unless you happen to choose a person who can never afford to do anything because then that’s on you. Literally.

Pay less rent

Finding a way to pay less in rent is the key to being able to experience Denver to it’s fullest. There are only a few issues with this though, one you don’t want to live in a slum and two you want to be IN THE CITY! Nothing wrong with the outer burbs (closer to the mountains), but many of us moved here to be around where it’s all happening. Plus it’s a cheaper Uber to the RiNo area than it is to Arvada.

Lucky for us, local groups like Cornerstone Apartments have income restricted units available at The Wheatley. The rent caps at $1202 (including all utilities) and the income is also capped at $44,900 for residents to qualify. Plus all new residents receive a Cornerstone Card that gives you discounts to local businesses. Check out their availability!

Work in the hospitality industry

Working in the hospitality industry allows for a work/life balance with a steady income and a non-conventional schedule. Plus, when you work for a lot of the hotel or restaurant groups that post on Sirvo you automatically get tapped into some of the best events this town has to offer. This is one of the fastest growing industries in the state/country and is quickly becoming a great place to start your career. Sirvo has a ton of great jobs across all professional spectrums. We love our city and we love having the time and the means at which to experience it.

Seriously though, Sirvo is the premier job board for the Colorado hospitality industry. We have the jobs and companies you are looking to work for. The hospitality industry is no longer just a temporary stop along the way to your “real” job, more often than not it is your “real” job and is the type of industry to take pride working in. We work hard, but we play hard too. Check out our job board and start applying today!

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