Sunday, April 22, 2007
Yes, we as servers hate coupons. Our corporate leadership continually feels the need to torture us with coupons. It's an epidemic across our industry, but especially bad in the Darden fleet (primarily with Olive Garden and Red Lobster as the "big" companies under that umbrella).
Our corporate leaders have no clue about the type of customers these coupons bring into our stores. Worse, our leadership doesn't really care. It pads the bottom line, and at the end of their day that is all the care about. Not a moment's thought is ever given to the impact that it has on those in the trenches, the people's on whose backs their bonuses and six plus figure salaries are earned upon. When you have paid vacations, full benefits, corporate expense accounts, bonuses and high salaries, what do you care about some disposable server drone? Servers are completely replaceable. The only thing they don't like about replacing servers is the training costs, and even that is NEVER a deterrent in their decision making process.
So out come the coupons in the local papers, like a tool to scourge those of us eeking out an existence the bare minimum they are allowed by law to pay us. So out come the coupons, and in comes the trashy tables, and in comes the old cheap grumps.
There is something about the coupons and cheap old people in particular. Servers will all be able to relate to this. The grumpy old ladies whip these things out like badges of pride. Their arm movement to thrust a coupon to the very edge of their table upon sitting down defies their gravity laden bodies. Their arms move so quickly that they almost bend time. Remember though, this is the same lady it took 12 minutes to walk in from the host podium to the second table inside the dining room. It took her 8 minutes of back and forth to get her car into the double wide handicap parking spot. This is the same woman who eats a bale of fiber today for a movement sometime next week (and maybe that's why the old people are always so grumpy). And yes, it is almost always the old lady.
The old men will keep it in their pocket or wallet until time to pay comes, and then they'll be confused about how to use the coupon (men generally are coupon resistant, so they aren't as experienced). They will struggle with the concept that you can both take the coupon off and run their credit card all in one swift transaction.
The other great customers that coupons generally bring in are the kind that view dental check ups as an optional part of life. Generally an option they aren't exercising. They also unfortunately view tipping in a similar fashion. There's no doubt they withheld no expense on their fishing boat and truck with glass packs, but to leave a livable tip at a restaurant would be unthinkable. With the price of smokes constantly going up, and chewing tobacco isn't getting cheaper either, they have to save somewhere. BTW ladies, there are simply somethings a woman should never do in public. Chewing tobacco is one of those things. You don't have facial hair (well most of you don't anyhow...) that will hide the dribbles when you spit.
I'd love to fund a study (yeah right, on Lobster earnings?!?) where someone would track the percentage of tip given on a coupon using table. My experience tells me that it would be at or below 12%. The reason I put that so high is all the large parties that use coupons have a gratuity added in skewing the total. My experience tells me I earn 8-12% on average on a coupon wielding table. What worsens this is that the coupons users are the ones who also seek out the very cheapest option on the menu, so 8% of two orders of broiled Flounder and two waters with lemon earns me less than crap. Not enough to even get a Big Mac.
So if you use your $4 coupon on your $20 check and leave me $1.50 and sit in my section for two hours, don't be surprised to find all your tires deflated on your car, or all the wheels loosened on your walker.