Tipping Point


Have you ever stopped for a second to think about the fact that there are very few great bars in North America despite tons of good bartenders who have plenty of talent?

The missing ingredient has nothing to do with a lack of options or support; it has everything to do with lack of ambition brought on by lowered expectations

Ask yourself this question. When was the last time you went into a bar and received really great service? If you are lucky, it has happened a few times but not many more.

Believe it or not, tipping too much is one of the reasons of why this happens.

Hard to believe, huh? Let me explain you why I say this:

In most bars, the tip is something that’s up to the client as a reward for an exceptional service. This means that bartenders are motivated to do their best effort every time to keep their patrons satisfied in order to ensure their economic success.

On the other side, bars that add an “autograt” (or automatic gratuity) offer below-average to poor  service while bartenders who had to work for their tips offered better drinks, superior service  and an all around exceptional experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the importance of the automatic gratuity. Many establishments tack on a 15 per cent gratuity to parties of eight or more when tipping is often (conveniently) overlooked.

However, a bartender or server should never be allowed to add an automatic gratuity to a party of less than six. And adding a 15 per cent automatic gratuity to a single drink provides bartenders with no incentive to create great drinks or offer excellent customer service.


Because the bartenders already know they will get their money regardless.

Bartenders are like work horses — they are  motivated by the carrot (the tip) and the stick (job security). If you take away the carrot (the chance of earning a gratuity) and just feed the carrot directly to the horse, they won’t pull the plough (their weight) no matter how hard you hit them with the stick. Without fail, automatic gratuities take the ambition out of taking care of the guest.

The result: Service suffers.

A bartender must remember that the guest determines whether to reward him or not with a tip or gratuity. After all, TIPS is an acronym for “To Insure Proper Service.”

Good bartenders work hard for their money.

They have a very difficult job in that they must possess the skills of a line chef when it comes to mixology and be able to balance that with the people management skills needed to deal with customers who are becoming increasingly intoxicated. An immense amount

of responsibility rests on their shoulders.

However, bartenders who believe they are owed gratuity by everyone who buys a drink have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. Tipping should never be mandatory.  Bartending is about driving a party, meeting new people, sharing experiences and creating relationships.

So the next time you’re in a bar and you receive great service, make sure to tip the bartender. And the next time you step behind the bar, remember you’re there to make people happy.


See you behind the bar

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