401k Matching . . . – How about Tip Matching for Restaurant Servers?

I recently heard an industry expert say that over 80% of the people who don’t return to your restaurant is due to having a non-favorable experience with someone at your restaurant.  Wow.  Given the fact that most of your business comes from repeat customers, ensuring they have a great experience is paramount. 

What is a good way to measure customer experience that also can drive server behaviour?  

You often see comment cards placed behind the bill after a meal.  These are rarely filled out and when they are, they require time to collect, time to enter into a system, time to analyze, and time to find a way to meaningfully communicate back to whomever was working that moment how to address any issue or reward them for positive comments.  Ug.  Too much time. 

Here is a question:  What is one way every single customer in a full-service restaurant fills out a comment card?  They tip.  You can tell how good every person’s experience was in your place by simply looking at how much they left as a tip.  Generally, the better the tip, the better job the server did to make them feel comfortable, welcome, and satisfied.  So why not incentivize servers to seek out better tips?  

Try implementing a tip matching program of sorts.  Make note of their tips for the day and match them out of your pocket.  Say, 10% matching.   On a given night I might make $200 in tips.  If I do that, I know that I will leave with $220.  If I can make $300, I leave with $330.   As a server, all night I will be doing all I can to make sure my customers are totally taken care of. 

A word of caution:  Before paying out, be careful to look at how many comps and discounts the server gives out that day.  Your point of sale system will be able to tell you this.  You obviously wouldn’t want to have the server giving away food and drinks to drive higher tips. 

A word of suggestion:  Do payout each night.  As they say when you bet and lose money to your friends on the golf course:  fast pay makes good friends.

Morgan Harris – Co-Founder, Restaurant365