I recently received a call from a return client. She is having a Holiday gathering - intimate event - no sweat! Yes, it’s on a Holiday so naturally, there is a holiday rate involved. Problem? Yeah - I can’t get anyone to work the event! Why? She’s a lousy tipper. Let me rephrase that - she doesn’t tip!
First event she had, we blew her away despite her very demanding expectations. At the end of the night - no tip. I called her the very next day as I normally do to follow up. I asked her if she was pleased with service and she went on and on about how great I was (I was working this particular event) and how she referred me to all her friends. Hmmmm… ok. I thought maybe she knew I was the “boss” and thought she didn’t have to tip. I dismissed it.
Next event, another Dinner Party - I sent a staff member. She even asked if the server can stay longer than originally negotiated - no problem. The server worked, served, cleaned, scrubbed, swept the floor, threw out the trash & wiped the counters. At the end of the night, no tip. I placed my phone call the very next day following up on service. Again, she was elated at how clean her kitchen was afterwards and raved about how nice everything looked when the party was over. She said her kitchen looked better than when she cleaned it! I thought this was very weird. However - I didn’t say anything but thought this was very very tacky. I thought it was tackier if I had to ask "why didn't you tip us".
Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2011. She calls for a server. She would like me to send her the same girl I sent her last year because “she was such a doll”. Guess what? The girl I sent her last year adamantly said NO. She is not willing to give up her holiday with her family for non-tipping job. I can’t say I blame her. NOTE: Much against my customary practice - I explained to her that I did have someone available but that she HAD to tip the server for a job well done. Now, I've worked with this customer before and know that she expects BLOOD from you. Well, she said "oh sure, no problem, I didn't realize I had to tip her". Well - to add insult to injury, she tipped alright, she tipped her $15!!! $15! What an insult. Had I known she was going to do that, I would have asked her not to tip her at all!
Customarily, I tell clients that gratuity is at their discretion. On the other end of that stick I tell my staff, you have to earn your tip. I am a firm believer in both of those statements. However, I have found that more times than not, my staff is many times left disheartened by the lack of “appreciation” for their hard work. If the staff members you hired did a good job, you should be tipping them. Customarily, 20-30% of your bill is what they expect. And yes, they are expecting it because that is why they worked the way they did. $25 for 2 staff members is hardly enough. On that note, always make it an amount that is easily divided by the amount of Servers. What you should do is hand each server their tip.
I have a small blurb at the bottom of my contracts that reads “While Gratuity is at Your Discretion, it is much appreciated for Excellent Service”. I’m not sure if people these days aren’t tipping because they don’t think they have to or because they just don’t know how much to tip. You can also argue that they weren’t pleased with the services they received. That could certainly be the case but no one has ever complained to me about a staff member of mine. However, if you feel that someone you hired did not adequately do their job, you should absolutely bring it up to management. Trust me, they want to know. I know I do. I want to make it better.
Most of the time, I attend parties with my staff. Whether I am working the event with them or overseeing - I always know what is going on. Naturally, I can only speak for The Party Gods and my own staff but, I need to mention that all of my staff members are trained by me to my standards. This is usually the case with anyone you hire. Every staff member at your party is working their tales off to make sure you and your guests have a great time at your event - because that is why you hired us. So please, please, please - take into consideration certain conditions when wondering not if, but how much to tip: was the weather exceptionally HOT; did we gracefully deal with difficult guests; if we are running back and forth from the kitchen to the backyard; if we did a great job at cleaning your kitchen, sweeping your floor and emptying the trash; if all of your guests were well taken care of and if you find yourself dancing and having a great time (because that means we are doing our job).
How much should you tip? Well, customarily, 20-30% is the norm for each server. Coat-checks, valet parkers & bartenders get tipped differently. With my bartenders for instance, I always as the Host if they prefer us to bring a “tip” jar and have their guests tip or, if in the alternative, we should add gratuity to the bill. In some cases, both.
For more formal events such as weddings, your Wedding Planner/Coordinator should be tipped along with Hair & Make-up; Set-up & Breakdown Staff; Officiant; Musicians; Reception Staff & Attendants & Transportation people should all be tipped. What’s customary? Anywhere between 20-30% of the bill or between $20 and $500 - for EACH vendor. This means that if your photographer brings an assistant, they each get tipped, DJ and/or band, wedding coordinator, etc. Read the entire article on The Knot for full details.
EDITORIAL NOTE: AS I COMMENT ON THE BAD, I COMMENT ON THE GOOD. KUDOS TO MY NOVEMBER BRIDE SARAH WHO SHOWED UP TO THE REHEARSAL WITH BOX OF NEW BUSINESS CARDS FOR ME. SHE'S A GRAPHIC ARTISTS AND SO GRACIOUSLY TOOK THE TIME OUT OF HER WEDDING SCHEDULE TO PUT THESE TOGETHER FOR ME. LOVE LOVE LOVE the thoughtfullness!!!
Not everyone gets tipped though. Our friends at The Knot put a list together for you and say that you don’t have to tip the bridal salon; cake baker; chef/sous-chef; invitation designer; florist; general manager or party rental company.
So you see, please tip appropriately because when you call upon the same service, you will be pleasantly surprised at how they jump at the chance to serve you.
Good help is hard to find - when you find it - try your best to keep it. :)
Party On Party People!!!!