T.I.P.S. for a great dining experience

Posted 2/25/11

Servers in restaurants and bartenders catch on early that “tips” drive their personal income. They are provided with a simple reminder that the …

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T.I.P.S. for a great dining experience


Servers in restaurants and bartenders catch on early that “tips” drive their personal income. They are provided with a simple reminder that the word “T.I.P.S.” actually has meaning: “To Insure Proper Service.”

The better the service, the higher the tip, right? But is that really the way it works? Who really benefits from a generous tip? Or suffers from a lousy tip? The next table that the server serves, or the next person who orders a drink at the bar. Of course, our server gets to pocket some money too.

When we stop and think about it, this is really a pay it forward type of model. In some cases where we frequent our favorite eatery or watering hole, tipping does ensure proper future service. But what about turnover? Do we always have the same server, bartender, valet, driver, or coat check? Of course we don’t, so in essence we either tip generously or the expected 20 percent without even thinking about it. And then there are those who tip way less, regardless of the level of service. They were simply born with a “cheap gene” and can’t seem to grasp the importance of tipping.

As I have the opportunity to dine out frequently, I get to experience and observe all kinds of interactions between the servers and the customers. I get to see the smiles on the faces of the server who has just been tipped well, and the look of disgust and disappointment when they worked hard, met or exceeded expectations, only to find an insulting gesture of a tip.

Stay with me on this, because either way, the next table or person they serve pays the price for a bad tip or enjoys the exceptional service because of a generous or at least appropriate tip.

The whole experience is out of our control unless we take the time to think of “T.I.P.S.” in a different way. What if “T.I.P.S.” stood for “Thankfulness Inspires Pleasing Service?” Imagine a dining or drinking experience where our interactions and requests were polite, courteous, attentive and positive. Our behavior and connection with our server is what will drive the type of service we get. Listen, we have all seen it or even done it ourselves. We have talked over the server while they shared the specials, we didn’t say thank you when they refilled our drink or brought more bread. We took the whole experience for granted and just expected the server to wait on us regardless of how poorly or rudely we treated them. And in some cases ignored them completely.

I have personally seen this behavior and the resulting service has always been compromised. And I have seen the other scenario as well, where a table of customers was delightful, gave everyone from the hostess to the server the courtesy that any human being deserves. The result, an attentive staff, a visit from the chef or manager, a little extra pour in the drinks from the bar, and at the end a better than expected tip.

Tipping goes both ways, and both parties can take ownership for their behavior and service. Take a minute and think about the best meal and complete dining experience you have ever had. The server was attentive but not over the top, you enjoyed fun and positive banter with the server, they made great recommendations, dessert was awesome, you left more than full, you left feeling like it was the best dining experience ever.

Your service was impeccable, not the table after you, but your service. Because it had nothing to do with how much or how little your server made in tips from their previous tables. Your service was incredible because of the way you took the time to be thankful for all the little things that the servers and serving team provided you. Gratitude is the strongest of all human emotions and when expressed properly it is a game changer for everyone.

Take control of your next dinner out, treat your servers the way you want to be treated, and it will be a better than good meal and experience for everyone. Tell me all about the service you receive at gotonorton@gmail.com and again, make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of www.candogo.com.


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