Wednesday, July 6, 2011
First, allow me to define the term: Autograt (automatic gratuity): an involuntary service charge that is added to your bill at the discretion of therestaurant. Often applied to large groups (or in some cases parties of 6 or more?!?)
I personally have mixed feelings regarding this concept. As a server who has been badly burned by guests in large groups who think either [a.] they can get away without tipping and no one else will notice because everyone else is tipping OR [b.] their friends are taking care of the tip! I appreciate the option to add a service charge to large parties so that I don't end up paying to serve the table.
But, on the other hand, when dining out myself I feel that I am a fair tipper. Though I don't always over-tip just because I'm in the business, when I receive great service I tip accordingly. The same goes for when I get poor service!
Though I'm sure every server in the world thinks they are perfect, but sometimes large groups get poor service. In the event of this possibility I think it is unfair to tack on a 15% (or more) gratuity to a bill. However, there are some customer types that are a higher risk than others and therefore I'm not opposed to autograt-ing a party of, say, 10 or more? (especially if they require separate cheques!)
Having a policy regarding auto gratuities means that you feel your staff are entitled to the tip. I wholeheartedly believe that tips are earned not deserved (though I too feel indignant when shorted).
As a floor manager in a restaurant you should evaluate each service individually, know the strengths and weaknesses of your servers and autograt appropriately - or not at all in some cases.
All things considered, I've gained more than lost by letting my guests decide for themselves what kind of tip they feel is appropriate. It's kind of like gambling, except you're betting on yourself and if that's not a good bet, perhaps you should re-evaluate your own service abilities!