How Much an Hour?
The UK National Living Wage (assuming you are over 25 years old) is set at £7.20 an hour.
This would bring in around £13,000 a year working full time.
Some would argue £13,000 is not enough to live on, but this is a debate for another time.
Imagine your situation was different.
You work full time and your hourly rate is £1.51.
That’s right, this is not a typo, £1.51 an hour.
This would be equal to £52.85 a week or £2,748 a year.
I don’t know anyone that could pay a mortgage/rent, bills and maintain a social life on such a meagre amount.
Coming to America
This is the reality for anyone who works behind a bar or waits tables in America.
Each state has a different minimum wage, usually around $8 an hour – not too different to the UK amount.
Under federal law (laws which apply to everyone, regardless of the State they live in) the minimum wage for tipped employees like bartenders and waitresses is just $2.13 an hour.
If they are earning equal to £2,748 a year, how do they survive and earn a living?
How would you survive and earn a living?
It is several years since I last visited America. I remember any tip equaling 10% of the cost of the meal – so if the meal came to $100, the tip should be $10.
I recently returned to America with a surprise. The current tipping amount is now between 15% to 25% of the total bill.
So my tip of $10 from several years ago is no longer going to cut it!
Depending on the State a waiter/waitress’ average hourly rate (including tip) ranges from $10 to $13 an hour.
If you are doing well then the top end shows people earning up to $30,000 a year.
If tipping did not exist the reality is the food and drink would be more expensive. It would have to be to account for an increase in wage costs.
The tip you leave is a reflection of how you feel about the service you have received.
How are you of Service?
Let’s leave tipping for a moment and think about leadership.
There are many articles, books and discussion groups with different definitions on leadership.
The one I keep coming back to is this:
‘Being of service.’
‘Being of service’ is about removing the obstacles people face daily. You are helping people to grow and develop beyond what they thought possible.
Every thought, feeling and action (as a leader) is about someone else. Self interest should thrown out of the window.
In adopting this approach your people feel inspired to deliver their best.
They see a selfless leader who wants everyone to succeed. In turn this influences your people to adopt a similar approach.
They will want to be ‘of service’ to each other.
You have developed a high performing culture. Congratulations!
What About Me?
If you work for a reputable company your pay will often reflect your effort and achievements.
If you perform well and have aspirations to do well then promotion or personal growth are likely.
You may be the type of person who has no aspirations to achieve promotion.
You may want to just come in and do a solid job. Nothing spectacular. You know what is expected and you deliver to this. Good for you.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, you know the salary you receive is safe. If you are lucky you may get a bonus every quarter/once a year.
Are You of Service?
Now imagine a world where you receive only half of your salary.
The other half of your salary is tips received based on the service you provide.
How would you feel about this? How would you react? Why?
At this point (if you work in a project team for example) I expect several of you are saying, ‘But I don’t work in a service industry – I don’t deal with customers.’
If you believe this then I encourage you to think about who you are delivering the project for.
Whoever they might be, they are your customers.
Imagine if your customers controlled the tip amount, once the project has is completed.
Imagine the tip is not coming close to covering the other half of your salary.
Feels different now, huh?
Do You Feel It?
The best service is that which is sincere and heartfelt.
You may wonder if people working for tips are faking it.
There could be something in this but try to maintain a false smile for a whole day. Almost impossible to do and you would be found out immediately.
Customers are savvy and would recognise the lack of sincerity.
People who provide great service do so because they want to do it. They want to be of service. They want their customers to walk away feeling positive about their experience. They want them to tell their friends about their experience. They want them to come back with their friends (bigger tip!)
There is a well known BBQ joint in Leeds that followed the trend set in London (and America for that fact). Tables could not be booked in advance, you just had to turn up. For the first year you would see a queue snaking around the corner and down the street. Unless you got there early it was always difficult to get a table.
I organised a works night out and I’d heard a rumour that you might be able to book, but only if you had eight people or more.
I popped in a week before we were due to go on our night out. I approached the woman greeting customers at the front of house. I knew what I wanted to ask (could I book a table?) and felt almost awkward, knowing full well what the answer was likely to be.
Me: ‘Um, I was wondering if I could book a table for next week. It will be for around 10 people.’
BBQ Lady: ‘I’m really sorry, we don’t take bookings. What time were you thinking about eating?
Me: ‘Er, around 8pm, next Thursday.’
BBQ Lady: ‘If you can pop in around thirty minutes before, even better if you can get here an hour before, we can take your details. Once a table is ready we will then give you a call and get you seated. I’m guessing you will be going for a drink beforehand?’
Me: ‘Er, yes, we probably will be.’
BBQ Lady: ‘Great. I look forward to seeing you all next Thursday.’
What this does not show you is how engaging, smiley and positive she was whilst talking to me.
I think we can all remember great service and this sticks in my mind as one of the best service experiences I’ve had.
I’m guessing she will have had the same conversation hundreds of times. She made me feel like it was the first time.
It was sincere, heartfelt and she truly wanted to be ‘of service.’
I almost felt like tipping!
You Have a Choice (always)
I’m happy to be challenged on this next statement. ‘America has one of the best, if not the best, service industries in the world.’
They have ingrained a culture of wanting to be ‘of service.’ They actually enjoy serving people and creating experiences. The contrast, upon my return to the UK in similar settings, was a stark contrast to the positive experience in the US.
The reality is you have the luxury of receiving a full salary.
You don’t have to worry about the amount of tip and whether this is going to cover the bills.
If you have a choice (and everything is a choice) then you don’t need to rely on a tipping system.
You can be the change you want to see.
You can be happier in what you do.
You can be more positive with those around you.
You can be ‘of service’ to whoever you so choose.
Start small and choose one thing you will do differently today.
It may take little effort on your part, but it could make a huge difference to the person experiencing it.
Do something small each and every day. It will build and build.
Soon, it will become part of your daily routine and it will become a reflex and part of who you are.
Before you know it, others will reciprocate in kind and everyone is being ‘of service.’
I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.