When I first started working as a server, the restaurant I worked at operated under a house pool meaning that at the end of the night all of the servers’ tips would go into a giant pool that was split evenly amongst servers based on how many hours each person worked. Seems like a great idea to create a cohesive and supportive team right? Well, not exactly. I soon found that I was hustling and helping my peers out to give the best service not only to my tables but to theirs as well and it was exhausting. Moreover, some of my fellow servers were not really pulling their weight, leaving me and some others working much harder but still having to split our tips.
Soon after, we moved away from the house pool and switched to servers taking home their individual tips at the end of the night. This excited me and I soon was making much more money to reward my own personal hard work. I felt like I was being fairly compensated for my work and that I was responsible for myself and the tips I was bringing in.
I am definitely a team player and I enjoy working with other people so most days I will pool with one other server, someone I work well with and that I know shares my worth ethic. This gives me the security of knowing that there is another set of hands there working directly on my team and so that we can ensure the best customer service while keeping a good flow. I often like to pool with someone who has opposite strengths to my own so that we can maximize our reach of service.
This is my take on this matter as a server, and as a restaurant manager I hold the same opinion. I think it’s important that each server be held accountable for their own tips, knowing that there is support staff and managers help them if a hand is needed or a drink needs to be run. While the house pool can help to create a close knit team, it can also divide people so I believe that as a manager your goal should be to foster a positive, compassionate work environment in other ways, leaving money aside.
I find that most of the servers at the restaurant I work at still support each other, because that’s the environment that has been created by the managers; we help out when someone needs it. In the end though, we are still in control of our own money, as far as service is concerned, and that is comforting.