Re: Hey, Others Please Join this Discussion

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Posted by Jennifer Matesic on November 19, 1999 at 14:20:59 :

In Reply to: Hey, Others Please Join this Discussion posted by Carl on July 12, 1998 at 01:14:02 :

: : Dear Carl,

: : Thanks for your latest post in regard to the issue of waiter gratuities. It's clear that you are making a big effort to deal with the matter in a conscientious way. I also appreciate the fact that you didn't get overly defensive about my original irate post, but were able to focus on the portion of it which might have been valid.

: : If anything, I think perhaps you are even actually being too honest in your billing. I know that may sound weird, but I'm referring to the portion of your bill in which you explicitly tell the client that a charge reflects "a profit" to your company. I think that any client could reasonably assume that you are in business to make a profit, but when it comes time to pay, I think clients feel better about paying for specific, tangible, itemized goods and services (food, labor, rentals, etc.) Planning an event certainly takes a great deal of work, and I include it as a line item in my proposals and bills. I don't think any client should be able to complain about that, especially if we make clear that it reflects certain definite responsibilities on the part of the caterer (consulting with the client and with location managers, ordering rentals, planning the layout of the event, coordinating with other contractors involved in the event, etc.) In my opinion, saying that part of the bill is devoted to "profit" sounds a bit stark.

: : Let me know what you think.

: : All the Best,
: : Gabriel

: Hey Gabriel, good advice.... I think you are correct... they do know you are
: making a profit... but they may prefer a "coordination fee" or maybe the
: service charge could be described as "This is our fee for consultation, planning,
: coordinating and managing your event."

: I still think that clients more readily accept the term "service charge" and if
: we give a description like above, and continue to say "gratuities for staff are at your
: discretion" this will not only appease the staff, but be the right thing to do..

: I hope others will join us in this discussion as this is a big issue
: in catering.....

: Carl

Carl, Gabriel, et al. :

I realize I am coming late to this discussion, but this past summer I was much more involved in the management of the catering company I work for, and this issue is one that has caused me some conflict.

Carl, I agree with Gabriel that your billing is too honest. I think it is reasonable for people to assume that you are in business to make a profit. I think, too, that sometimes clients are overwhelmed and frustrated by too many add-ons, and really only want to know the bottom line. I work for a busy, but relatively small suburban caterer, so perhpas it's just our clientele. Anyway, we give our clients a price per person that includes meal, servers, and any mark-up for profit. We do fairly customized menus and our price (even for the same menu) varies depending on location, time, etc...We clearly state that gratuities are not included. Here, though, is my conflict. My employer feels that if a gratuity is received then it is at his discretion how and if to disperse it to staff. On the one hand I can see his point. The catering company, as a whole, has received the gratuity. While the servers undoubtably work hard (I know, I often perform this job, as well as other organizational and management duties), so do the chef, cooks, dishwashers, etc. Also, many people know they will tip before their function occurs, so up to that point it is based soley on the organizational services they have received. Another issue is how to divide the tip. While many servers feel it should be divided equally among the number of servers, inevitably there are those who have worked harder and longer than others, so is it fair that the slackers should receive the same amount? One last dilemma. My employers always keep a portion of the gratuities for themselves, sometimes to off-set unforseen expenditures, but also they feel that as workers at the event the are entitled to some of the gratuity just like all the others. Some people would feel that this is unfair, after all the get to keep the profits.

How do I feel? As I said, I am conflicted. My position is catering manager, but I often work as a server or in the kitchen at most events, so I see both sides. I hear it too, from my employers and from my serving staff (of whom I'm in charge).

I know I've rambled a bit, but you did ask for others to join the discussion! :)


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