I had some weird/funny tips tonight which I'll talk about down below, but before that I thought I'd have a brief discussion on tips.
Making good money while bartending or serving people can basically be determined by two numbers: Sales volume and/or tip percentage. There are many variables within these two categories such as check average, the bar's clientele, nights of the week, hours worked vs. money earned, etc, but I feel that sales volume and tip percentage are the best ways to determine if a bartender is walking with a lot or a little money at the end of the night. My breakdown:
Sale Volume: This one is easy to define. When the bar has a high sales night, the bartenders will almost always make decent to really good money. Even if the patrons tip like shit, the sheer number of drinks going over the bar and the amount of money coming into the bar will ensure more tips. People may be tipping poorly, but the bar staff is working nonstop and those ten percent tips will keep adding up and adding up and adding up. This is basically how a bartender makes money at a "college" bar or any joint where drinks are cheap. You "churn em and burn em" so to speak.
Tip Percentage: This is best factored in at higher end bars where the check average is higher, but it can also be applied to your regular run of the mill bar, where a Bud Light still costs $2.50 and you can actually buy a shot for less than 7 dollars. There are a lot of little things that factor into a single nights tip percentage such as customer service, repeat or regular customers, bartenders giving away free drinks in exchange for higher tips, whether or not there is a party in the bar, etc. Generally when bartenders are pulling 18-20 % tips out of the nights sales, they're doing pretty well, if not incredibly well. When that number starts to creep up to 25-30% on a regular basis (and not just one isolated night), then the bar owner may want to keep a closer eye on his bar because he's probably getting shafted.
The bartenders who are really making bank are the ones who work at high dollar, high volume bars. Then of course the ones who work at Ruth Chris and Mortons will also make bank due to the rediculously high check averages and the swanky clientele. Making even 10 percent tips on a night that a bar rang 5,000 dollars equals out to 500 dollars in tips. But I digress... Here are some funny tips and situations I saw tonight at the college bar:
- A girl came in tonight and she has the reputation as a huge tipper. So of course when I see her walk through the door I grab the other bartender who knows her and we make a quick game plan to flatter her ass off because the bar was slow and we wanted to maximize every opportunity and every tip that we could. I semi-jokingly asked if she wanted to make out with me after the bar shut down (yeah, my "game" can be a little direct sometimes). Tip left: 55 dollars on a 25 dollar tab. Cha-ching! This is good for the bartenders, but too many 200 percent tips and the bar owner will probably be showing his bartenders the door.
- Some guy I had never met was running up a tab on disgusting shit like Blue Motorcycles (don't even get me started on these..) and shots of Jager. By the way he was acting, I predicted a zero percent tip. He had amateur hour written all over him. So eventually one of his buddies gets into a small altercation with another patron and he and his buddy are asked to leave because of it. I see it happen and I immediately go to run his tab because I know he's about to get booted. His tab comes to 90 dollars and he was basically being manhandled out the door when I handed him the credit slips and a pen. I didn't even expect to get a slip back, but to my extreme surprise the guy calmed down and started signing the receipt. He made a big show of handing it to me and then he promptly got kicked the fuck out. Tip Left: 97 dollars on a 90 dollar tab. Whoa! Where the hell did that come from? I guess he was really drunk or I just completely read him wrong. My guess is he is probably in an alley pissing himself right now and that his large tip was a fluke. Either way, money is money and this random guy, once again, proved that I shouldn't judge every book by its cover.
-And since I'm always crushing African Americans for their poor tipping habits I thought this deserved mention. Two, not bad looking black girls in their late twenties came up to the bar, they ordered two shots of Patron Tequila and two Grey Goose Vodka and Pineapples. I've seen this order waaaayyyyy too many times, and honestly, I didn't think about what the tip would be because I'm so used to it being nothing on orders similar to this one. The total for this drink order was 34 dollars. One of the girls handed me a 50 and when I went to return her 16 dollars, she just smiled and told me to keep it. I'll admit that I get shafted all the time by every race and every walk of life and sometimes I unfairly judge people because of it, but in this instance (like many others) I was wrong. Infact I was already considering going "back to black" for a spell (hey white guys can go black too!) and this girl left a good taste in my mouth (figuratively of course) for when I do decide to catch another bout of jungle fever.