In 2020, every restaurant should have a digital tipping solution in place. Check out our quick guide to digital tip payout solutions.Continue reading
He’s grown up in a family of franchisees, and now he’s using his inside knowledge of the industry to connect franchisees with their peers and with technology. As the founder of FranTable, Jaimeen Dalia brings a wealth of knowledge across franchises of varying sizes and industries. We sat down to talk to him about the advantages of purchasing a franchise and how emerging restaurant franchises can stake their claim in the current landscape.
What is an emerging restaurant franchise?
The definition of an emerging restaurant franchise can vary depending on who you ask within the franchising industry.
A commonly accepted definition is that any brand with fewer than 100 units is considered an emerging franchise, while enterprise brands are characterized by having over 500 units. Emerging franchises often have a larger pool of available territories, which can be an appealing prospect for potential franchisees.
What are the pros of purchasing a franchise over opening your own independent restaurant?
There are several significant advantages to opting for a franchise as opposed to launching an independent restaurant. Firstly, franchisees benefit from the established brand equity of well-known franchises, which can be a game-changer for new businesses. Imagine a scenario where a new resident is deciding between a local eatery and a nationally recognized franchise; the trust associated with the familiar brand often sways the decision in its favor.
Another key advantage is the potential for more favorable rates with vendors. Franchise brands tend to have more bargaining power with their vendors, given the large volume of supplies they purchase, from food ingredients to everyday items like paper towels. This leverage allows local franchise owners to access better deals on essential supplies, which can be challenging for small business owners operating independently.
Lastly, franchise ownership offers accelerated learning curves when it comes to business development. Independent entrepreneurs typically spend months, if not years, fine-tuning fundamental aspects of their business, such as understanding customer preferences, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics. By partnering with a reputable franchise brand, franchisees can tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience of the franchise brand.
What challenges do emerging franchises face that are different from independent restaurants and enterprise brands?
I think the number one challenge for emerging franchises is their limited capacity to provide robust support to their franchisees. Unlike well-established enterprise brands with ample resources and a large workforce dedicated to operations, marketing, and sales, emerging franchises typically operate on tighter budgets and have fewer full-time people on staff. This can sometimes impact their ability to provide the necessary assistance and guidance to their franchisees.
Number two; emerging franchise brands often face a significant challenge when it comes to raising capital to support their franchisees. While established franchises have a track record of success and access to more traditional financing options, newer brands tend to lack the same level of credibility and may struggle to attract investment. This can affect their ability to expand, provide ongoing support to their franchisees, and develop effective marketing and operational strategies. To overcome this challenge, emerging franchise brands need to be innovative in how they pursue fundraising, explore alternative financing options, and demonstrate a clear and compelling vision for their business to attract potential investors and lenders.
The third challenge would be the tough competition they encounter from larger, more established brands. They can struggle to distinguish themselves in a market where a number of well-known names already dominate the consumer landscape. Something I’ve noticed often is how even small coffee franchises with just a handful of locations often tend to be compared to mid-tier and enterprise-level coffee giants. Emerging franchises need to get creative with their marketing and product innovation so they can carve out their niche.
What advantages do emerging franchises have over enterprise brands?
Emerging franchises can have some unique advantages over their enterprise counterparts. One notable advantage is their agility and speed in decision-making and support. As a franchisee within an emerging brand, individuals often enjoy direct access to the brand’s executive team, sometimes even the founders. This level of direct engagement allows emerging franchises to be more hands-on and responsive. This close collaboration with founders and experienced executive teams can be particularly beneficial for less experienced franchisees. Generally, such personalized support is not as readily available within the larger enterprise brands.
Emerging franchises are also typically more flexible in adapting to local market conditions and changing customer preferences. They can often customize their products, services, and marketing strategies quickly to better cater to the unique needs of their specific locations. This nimbleness and ability to pivot quickly helps form stronger connections with the local community and drive higher customer satisfaction.
In many cases, emerging franchise brands may also require a lower initial investment from franchisees compared to larger enterprise brands. This lower financial barrier to entry can make it more accessible for aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals with limited capital to become franchisees.
What are the signs that an emerging franchise is succeeding?
This can be tricky to answer. I think there’s a few factors involved. Firstly, the satisfaction of franchisees plays a pivotal role. Are the current franchisees happy? Are they getting along with the brand? Is their experience in line with the expectations they had before buying the franchise?
Secondly, you can look at some of the quantitative indicators. That involves evaluating the financial performance of the brand. Are the franchisees profitable? Are they growing year over year?
Lastly, the growth trajectory of the franchisees can also be a good way to assess how well the brand is doing. So you can look at whether there’s year-over-year expansion through increased same-store sales or the addition of new systemwide locations. I also like to see if the current franchises are adding more units. When existing franchisees show confidence in the system by investing in and opening additional territories, this can demonstrate the brand’s potential to establish itself as a category leader within the industry.
How important is it for franchisees to connect with their peers?
I think establishing strong connections with fellow franchisees is very important for franchise owners, particularly with those who may be in similar business situations as them. In my view, this is one of the biggest advantages of being part of a franchise system. It provides a network of non-competitive peers who are willing to share their operating experience with you.
Unlike independent business owners, who often lack a supportive community, franchisees can readily seek guidance from others who have likely encountered and addressed similar issues.
FranTable plays a vital role in facilitating these interactions, enabling franchise owners from various brands and industries to engage in knowledge-sharing and ensure they are making informed decisions.
>> To learn more about Jaimeen Dalia and the ins and outs of operating a restaurant franchise, check out FranTable.
As a veteran of the service industry, Greg Nasser has been a bartender, cooked, and eventually opened restaurants of his own. Over his long career in the industry, he noticed a common trend: restaurants often fail prematurely. And more often than not, failing restaurants seem to operate on intuition and impulse, rather than looking to the data.
That’s why he created Borne. At Borne, they’re focused on restaurant intelligence powered by AI and machine learning, with the goal of preventing premature restaurant closures. With data-backed insights, Borne provides restaurateurs with the tools and information they need to make the right business decisions and stay afloat.
What are the main reasons you see restaurants fail?
There are a lot of reasons that restaurants fail, but those reasons usually fall into one of two major buckets: wrong concept or wrong location.
From the wrong concept side, a boring or forgettable concept in an already saturated market doesn’t make sense. There may be value perception issues — like a higher check average when there are 10 other burger restaurants that are all half the price. You need to understand what people want and need in a neighborhood, which is where tech can come in. AI allows you to pinpoint what people are searching for and offer them a concept that they want.
The other bucket is wrong location. In this category, a lot of restaurants fail because of a bad lease deal. Owners often find themselves signing an unfavorable lease based on unrealistic projections. People often overestimate the consumer value sentiment for their brand based on incorrect information or human intuition that isn’t complemented with data. That leads to failure because people don’t see value in your concept in the area.
How are restaurants faring in 2023?
Restaurant closures overall are down in 2023 from 2022. But, first off, restaurant closures are not predictive of economic trends — they’re kind of a reaction to them.
It’s a complicated question, because different service styles (counter service, drive-thru, full service) all have different metrics. You also have to consider differences between rural, urban, suburban, and destination restaurants.
In the QSR sector, I know that they’re doing 30% better than they were prior to 2019. But in some urban sectors, restaurants in downtown corridors still haven’t recovered as well, especially in cities like San Francisco.
Still, restaurants are definitely going in the right direction, and people are continuing to go out to restaurants and spend money and enjoy themselves.
What are some of the blind spots for restaurant operators that can impact their success?
If we’re talking about in-house operation, your biggest challenge is your prime costs. If you have a relatively fixed prime cost, you kind of know what your cost of goods will be. You can get into the theoretical costs of goods sold to control your cost there.
The one statistic that’s always evolving and changing is labor. With minimum wage increases, insurance increases, legality by city, by state forecasting and understanding how labor can impact your brand over a five-year window is really important. Labor is something that I think a lot of us take for granted.
We also see owners having an idea and hoping to open a restaurant because they’re passionate about it. But does the data back up your idea? Where is the right place to open it? You have to plant seeds early on so that your restaurant can flourish. In the past, you would spend six months on R&D, standing outside of a location to see how many people are going to nearby restaurants and engineering the menu. That old-school methodology is pretty much out of use and only works if you really know the area. Otherwise you’ll get inaccurate information.
The blind spot here is that we have data and AI tools that you can use to guide your human intuition, and that is invaluable for learning what customers will value about your cuisine and brand. You have to learn who your customer is and make sure it matches with your brand personalities.
How important is real estate for the restaurant business? What can operators do to make your location successful?
I mean, it all starts with the location. So one thing to keep in mind is that when we talk about restaurant trip takers and market opportunity, restaurant trip takers will always buy brands that they feel are like minded. If they go to Whole Foods, Lululemon, Pete’s Coffee, then they’ll go to X Restaurant because it makes them feel like the other three.
From a real estate perspective, you need to understand how a brand should feel and how it should be presented to meet the restaurant trip-taker’s needs. That includes the right cuisine for the location.
As I mentioned before, it’s also important to know what a reasonable lease deal is for your restaurant. I think a lot of restaurants fail because of unfavorable lease deals that leave no money on the bottom line. Usually this means they’re overpaying and underperforming.
I think understanding revenue projection and matching occupancy budget for a specific address is really the key to the real estate piece. At the Borne Report, we help people get that and bridge the gap between real estate broker and restaurateur.
How can restaurateurs look more to data and AI rather than their own intuition to ensure that they don’t fail?
The Borne Report is a great resource to help guide human intuition. I don’t think AI should ever take away human intuition on the restaurant side, because the restaurant business is a human business dealing in a lot of human characteristics.
When you look at the Borne Report in its totality, it gives you a really good understanding of cuisine recommendations, revenue projection, market profile of the restaurant trip taker, competitive landscape, and other key data. You also get an inside look into retail and restaurant trends and spend in that specific trade area around that address. It really saves that time that you would need to spend on R&D, allowing you to focus more on things that matter, like guest experience and design.
You can think of the Borne Report as a way to guide your intuition but also as an insurance policy to avoid failing.
What is the outlook for restaurants in 2024? What can restaurants do to stay on top?
Being versatile in service styles is important. Maybe you’re a counter service brand that offers dine-in with beer and wine. Or if you have a model that works well with adding drive-thru, breakfast, or late night, those can be beneficial depending on your location. That versatility will lead to faster growth and more success.
Our models are also predicting that live music, farm-to-table, wine bars, and live fire will be huge trends in 2024. That experiential dining that we didn’t get during the pandemic is becoming more readily available and drawing people in.
To learn more about Greg Nasser and data-backed restaurant recommendations, check out the Borne Report.
A digital tip jar is a cashless tipping solution that enables customers to give staff gratuities without using cash. In an increasingly cashless economy, many business owners struggle with how to reward staff members with tips when fewer and fewer customers carry currency.
What Is a Digital Tip Jar?
A digital tip jar is an app or online platform that lets customers give gratuities – often to entertainment or hospitality workers like musicians, baristas, or valets – without the need for physical cash. Digital tip jars offer a seamless, cashless tipping experience that aligns with the growing trend toward digital payments. They can be utilized through various methods such as QR codes, links, or embedded buttons on websites, making them convenient, safe, and efficient for customers.
How Do Digital Tip Jars Work?
In practice, a digital tip jar works very similarly to tip jars of old. However, instead of dropping in spare change or bills, customers can send tips electronically either through a payment app or a dedicated digital tipping platform. These platforms – including ours – support various payment methods, including credit/debit cards and mobile wallets. They let business owners generate QR codes or links that can be shared with customers, making it easy to scan or click to tip.
Though still relatively new, digital tip jars can be a boon – particularly to staff in the hospitality and entertainment industries. These apps offer an easy, low-cost way to collect tips and can be particularly beneficial in businesses with multiple service layers or those with a significant delivery component. Customers, who increasingly favor cashless transactions, appreciate the convenience and simplicity of digital tipping. They can show their appreciation for good service with just a few taps on their smartphone.
Digital Tip Jar Fee Structure
Digital tip jars typically charge a percentage fee on each tip received – often around 8.9% – plus a flat fee – usually $0.30 per transaction. In contrast, Kickfin provides a digital tip jar service for a 5% fee, plus $0.20 per transaction. This fee is primarily used to cover the operational costs of the platform, including transaction processing fees.
It’s important to note that while some platforms might not charge the businesses directly, they may charge the customer a surcharge. However, this is prohibited or restricted by many payment processors, including Visa.
Benefits of a Digital Tip Jar
Digital tip jars aren’t just a trend – they’re a solution to a modern business challenge. They provide a seamless and hassle-free way for customers to show their appreciation for excellent service. But their advantages go beyond convenience. Digital tip jars can significantly impact your business’s bottom line, boost employee morale, and improve customer service.
Digital tip jars often lead to an increase in tips. With more and more people going cashless, having a digital gratuity option allows more customers to tip, and the ease of tipping digitally often results in larger tip amounts.
This benefit is particularly advantageous for businesses in the service industry where tips contribute significantly to staff income. Higher tips can lead to happier staff and less employee turnover.
Improved Customer Experience
In many industries, tipping forms part of the overall customer experience. When customers find every aspect of their interaction with your business easy and convenient, it contributes to their overall satisfaction and increases their likelihood of returning.
When you set up a digital tip jar for your employees, all tips are tracked and recorded, eliminating any disputes or confusion about how much was received. It also eliminates the chances of tip theft or discrepancies and the need for you to stock a cash drawer to help employees make change for tips.
Having a clear record of tips can also help with managing employee performance. By tracking the amount and frequency of tips, businesses can identify their top-performing employees and reward them accordingly.
What Kinds of Businesses Should Use Digital Tip Jars
Digital tip jars are a game-changer for any business where employees rely on tips as a significant portion of their income. Here’s a look at what types of businesses can benefit from incorporating digital tip jars:
- Bars/Restaurants: Servers and bartenders at bars and restaurants often rely heavily on tips. Digital tip jars make it easy for customers to tip, even if they are paying with a card or mobile payment. They also ensure that employees receive their tips immediately, rather than having to wait for cash-outs or paychecks.
- Hotels: Hotel employees like bellboys, housekeepers, and concierge staff often receive tips as a token of guest appreciation. A digital tip jar allows guests to tip without the need for spare change or cash.
- Valets: A digital tip jar makes the process of tipping valets seamless, eliminating the awkwardness when customers don’t have cash on hand.
- Pet Groomers: Many pet owners appreciate the services of pet groomers, and a digital tip jar allows them to reward good service easily.
- Car Washes: Employees at car washes often go the extra mile to ensure cars are spotless, making them prime candidates for tip-based income. Digital tip jars streamline this process.
- Tours/Events: Tour guides and event staff often provide exceptional service that warrants a tip. A digital tip jar allows customers to tip these individuals easily, regardless of the payment method they used for the tour or event.
How to Get the Most from Using a Digital Tip Jar
- Promote Digital Tipping: A digital tip jar won’t do much if nobody knows about it. Start by communicating its presence to your customers. Use signage, menu mentions, or verbal reminders from staff to encourage customers to tip digitally.
- Train Your Staff: Your employees are on the front lines of promoting a digital tip jar to customers. Make sure they know how it works and the benefits it offers, so they can confidently explain the system to customers.
- Offer Multiple Payment Options: Different customers are comfortable with different modes of payment. Ensure your digital tip jar accepts a wide variety of payment methods, from credit cards to mobile payment apps, to cater to all your customers’ preferences.
- Ensure Compliance: Make sure your digital tip jar system is not surcharging customers as this can lead to problems with payment processors. Regularly review your compliance status to avoid unforeseen issues.
Staying Compliant with a Digital Tip Jar
While digital tip jars offer a host of benefits, it’s important to use them properly.
Adherence to State Laws
Each state has its own set of laws pertaining to tips, including how tips are taxed, who can receive tips, and how tips can be distributed. It’s crucial to ensure your digital tip jar adheres to the specific laws of the state(s) in which your business operates.
Compliance with Payment Processor Rules
Digital tip jars are often facilitated by third-party payment processors. These processors usually have their own set of rules and requirements, which businesses need to abide by. Some processors may have specific policies about how tips are processed and recorded. For example, digital tip jars that surcharge customers on debit card transactions or more than 3% of the tip on credit transactions violate Visa network rules. As a result the merchants run a high risk of Visa turning them off their processing network.
Following Tax Regulations
Tip income is taxable. Digital tip jars track and record all tips, making it easier for businesses and employees to report tip income accurately. However, how this income is reported may vary depending on the tipping platform you use and the flow of funds from customers to staff. Check with your accountant to make sure you report tips properly.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Under the FLSA, tips are considered the sole property of the tipped employee. While tip pooling is permitted in some cases, employers must follow strict guidelines. A digital tip jar needs to be set up in such a way that it adheres to these regulations.
Using Kickfin as a Digital Tip Jar
We’re proud to say that we’re one of the most popular cashless tipping options available on the market. We offer a flexible platform for businesses to collect and manage employee tips, streamlining the process and ensuring that employees receive their tips quickly and easily.
Here are some things you should focus on when you’re looking for a digital tipping solution for your employees:
- Easy Set-Up: We help business owners set up cashless tipping in minutes with no technical skills required.
- Multiple Payment Options: Customers should be able to tip using credit or debit cards, as well as popular mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Instant Tip Distribution: Employees should receive their tips immediately after a transaction is processed, eliminating the need for cash-outs or waiting for paychecks.
- Customizable Tipping Options: You should be able to set up custom tipping options, such as percentage or dollar amount.
- Real-Time Reporting: A digital tip jar should track tips and let you view real-time reports on employee tips.
- Secure Transactions: When you’re collecting tips for employees, security is paramount. Any platform you consider should ensure all transactions are safe and secure.
Digital tip jars offer a convenient and efficient way for businesses to manage employee tips, making it easier for customers to show their appreciation while also ensuring that employees receive their tips promptly. With platforms like Kickfin, implementing a digital tip jar has never been easier. Schedule a demo with our team to learn how digital tipping can motivate your employees and improve your customers’ experience.
General managers have one of the toughest jobs in hospitality. They’re in the trenches with their team, day in and day out — but with the added responsibilities of hiring, training, purchasing, inventory management, maintaining guest satisfaction, ensuring adherence policies and standard operating procedures…the list goes on.
It takes the right skillset — and a lot of grit — to succeed as a GM. When you find a talented one, as an operator, it’s worth doing everything you can to keep them happy and make their life easier.
Enter: digital tipping. For restaurants that move away from cash tip-outs and automate tip distribution, cash management becomes one less (tedious) task on your GM’s plate. That means they have hours back in their day for work that matters. (Or maybe — just maybe — they’ll get to head home at a slightly more reasonable hour.)
Here are 7 reasons why your GM will thank you for making the switch to digital tip distribution.
1. Fewer bank runs
Your general manager probably bears the burden of ensuring there’s enough cash in the safe to pay out tips after each shift. For a lot of GMs, that means running to the bank to withdraw thousands of dollars in cash on a weekly (or more frequent) basis. Your GMs will be more than happy to scratch that task off their to-do list so they can stay in the store and on the floor.
2. Enhanced safety
Running to and from the bank isn’t just a time suck: it’s also a major liability. Having that much cash on your person makes your GM a perfect target for theft. And the same goes for their team once they’ve received their tip-outs and are heading home in the wee hours of the morning. (And realistically, the more cash you have on hand, the more opportunity there is for internal theft and skimming.) Sending tips straight to their bank account is truly the best of both worlds: employees still get instant access to their earnings, right where they want it — and everyone is a whole lot safer.
3. Less time counting (and recounting) cash
As long as you accept cash at your restaurant, your managers will have to deal with the daily task of counting down cash registers before and after every shift. But the vast majority of restaurant sales are credit card transactions. Given the inefficiencies (and risks) of cash management, there’s simply no reason to introduce cash into the equation in order to pay out those credit card tips.
Digital tip-outs eliminates the need for your GMs to manually count out stacks of cash and rolls of quarters until they’re going cross-eyed — which saves time and greatly reduces the risk of human error.
4. Freedom to shine on the floor
All of that time saved from bank runs and cash counting means your managers can spend more time on tasks that really matter. Sure, there will always be admin work to be done. But generally speaking, GMs aren’t in hospitality because they want to spend their days and nights heads down in the back office; it’s because they love to be on the floor managing their team, engaging with guests, and filling in gaps as needed. Finding ways to automate what you can — like tip distribution — gives them the freedom to do just that.
5. Minimal distractions (and drama)
Every time a server comes by the restaurant to pick up tips from the previous night, managers have to stop what they’re doing to open the safe, watch the server count the tips, and sign that they received them. Then they’ll try to return to the task at hand…only for another server to show up 15 minutes later.
Some restaurants also struggle with tip disputes — i.e., employees claiming that they didn’t get what they were owed. Unfortunately, with cash tip-outs, there’s low visibility into payment history and a lot of room for error. Combined, those two things can create major trust issues for your team.
Cashless tip-out solutions mean tip payments happen instantly — not the next day or week — and they provide you with a digital paper trail, which cuts down on the distractions and drama that your GM has to deal with on a daily basis.
6. Easy reconciliation and reporting
Your general manager wears a lot of hats — and for many restaurants, that includes some level of reporting or bookkeeping. Your cash tip-out system might include a lot of hand-written records, complicated spreadsheets…and heavy reliance on your bleary-eyed managers’ late-night math skills.
The right digital tipping solution will provide a much simpler and more accurate source of truth for tip payments, as well as robust reporting by shift, date, location, or individual employee.
7. A smart recruiting play
Your GM has been fighting on the front lines of the labor shortage, and they need new, creative ideas to bring in new servers. Digital tipping options could be the differentiator they need to bring in talented servers. As more restaurants embrace digital tipping, they’re finding that a lot of candidates — especially the Gen Zers — consider instant, direct-to-bank payouts a major work perk that’s rapidly becoming table stakes.
Give your GM the tools they need to succeed
A GM has to be good at juggling a lot of tasks in a fast-paced environment. That’s a non-negotiable. But when there’s an opportunity to make your operations run more efficiently and make your GM’s life easier? That’s a no-brainer. Eliminating the hassles of cash management makes a world of difference for the captain of your ship — so if you’re still doing tip-outs old-school, now’s the time to seek out the right digital tipping solution for your team.
Want to check out Kickfin’s digital tipping software? We’ll show you all of our general manager-friendly features in a 10-minute demo — schedule yours today!
The advancement of digital tipping technology has a whole host of benefits for your operations, your team, and your bottom line.
But as every employer knows, any change to the payment process — even if it’s for the better! — can create uncertainty and concern among employees. That’s especially true in an industry like hospitality, where it’s not unusual for employees to live paycheck to paycheck.
While digital tipping is quickly becoming table stakes for restaurants, it’s still a relatively new technology. So if you’re considering a digital tipping solution for your restaurant, your employees will likely have questions — and maybe even some misconceptions — about what instant, cashless tip-outs really mean for them.
Below are few of the myths we find ourselves regularly busting, as well as important information that can help your people rest assured that digital tipping is a simple, secure — and did we mention instant? — way to receive the tips they’ve worked so hard to earn.
Does digital tipping affect servers’ tax liability?
For some servers, one of the big perks of working in the restaurant industry is that cash tips can’t necessarily be tracked — so they may not report all of their tipped income. As digital tip-outs rise in popularity, many servers are concerned that this will mean more tip reporting and higher tax liability.
But the thing is: it doesn’t. Even though your employees’ tips might be paid out in cash, that doesn’t mean income is unreported. If your restaurant is using a POS system where you input your credit card tips after each table closes out, that POS data is already being used to report your servers’ income and the IRS is taxing them on it — which is why your employees might receive $0 paychecks. In fact, the IRS is gearing up to rely solely on POS data for tax information.
Just like before, if a customer leaves a cash tip, it’s on the employee to claim it, but credit card tips have been (and always will be) reported to the IRS.
Do employees need to download an app?
If your employees are anything like us, they have no storage to spare on their smartphone. So when you announce the rollout of a digital tipping solution at your restaurant, you might get some eyerolls: Does this mean there’s another app they have to download, and another account they have to manage on a regular basis?
Short answer: nope. It depends on the solution, of course, but a software like Kickfin doesn’t require an app download.
In fact, employees can sign up for Kickfin in 30 seconds — without having to download anything. You simply send out an invite to each employee, they click the link, and they sign up through their browser in seconds.
That means your staff get instant tip payouts, and they don’t have to delete a million photos to free up space for yet another app. Win-win!
Do digital tipping solutions require employees to use a paycard?
Here again, not all digital tipping solutions digitize tips the same way.
Yes, some solutions require employees to use a paycard. The problem with paycards is that employees might get hit with unexpected fees when they want to use their card or transfer money to their bank account. (And those bank transfers can take up to 3-5 days!)
Kickfin’s solution bypasses paycards and sends tip earnings directly to their bank accounts — which is where most employees prefer. Funds are instantly accessible the moment employees are tipped out (including nights, weekends and bank holidays), so your people don’t have to deal with the paycard wait times if rent is due or they have bills to pay.
Does Kickfin store servers’ banking information?
Hackers and identity thieves are constantly taking advantage of weak security thresholds (or worse: accidental data leaks). So it’s not surprising that your employees might hesitate to share personal or financial information with a new vendor.
With a solution like Kickfin that sends tip earnings straight to your employees’ bank accounts, it’s fair to assume their banking information is saved within Kickfin and could be compromised.
But that’s actually not how it works.
In addition to being 100% PCI compliant, Kickfin tokenizes your employees’ financial information. Without getting into the weeds, the bottom line is that their financial information is safe from bad actors, period.
What about personal information?
Constant spam calls and emails are driving everyone nuts, so your employees may be concerned about entering their phone number and email address into yet another database that could be sold to telemarketers, spammers, and even scammers.
We get it: Kickfin will never sell your employees’ personal information. We value your trust too much. And if an employee opts out of Kickfin or moves on to a new job, they can easily delete their account.
Can unbanked employees use Kickfin?
Kickfin connects to 100% of all 10,000+ banks for instant, cashless tip-outs. But what about hospitality employees who are unbanked?
Realistically, some workers aren’t old enough to have a bank account; some might be undocumented; and some people simply choose not to use a bank.
If your unbanked employees are worried about how they’ll get paid with a direct-to-bank tipping solution, make sure you’re selecting a software that gives them options. For example: With Kickfin, employees can simply opt out of instant payouts and receive their tips via payroll. It doesn’t add any administrative complexity for your team, and it ensures they’re still getting access to the tips they’ve earned.
Still have a burning question about digital tipping? We’re here to help. Schedule some time with us today and we’ll get you the answers you’re looking for!
So, you’re ready to break up with cash. Good news: the hardest part is over.
But before you pop the champagne and celebrate your freedom from the pain of cash tip-outs, you have a few decisions to make. Payroll tips or digital tips? Instant tips or pay cards? There are a number of approaches to cashless tipping — but which one is right for your restaurant?
We’ve been there (actually, we live here…), and we’ve done the research for you. As you’re wading through your options, here are a few things to consider when choosing a digital tipping solution.
1. What is the employee experience like?
No servers = no sales. In year three of the labor shortage, we all know how hard it can be to find good employees, so you can’t afford to lose your best servers to the restaurant across the street. If your new tipping system doesn’t benefit employees, go ahead and dust off your “Now Hiring” sign.
Most of your employees want (and deserve) to be paid on a daily basis — so before you make the switch, consider how it can affect their financial situations.
And if you’re looking at a paycard solution, bear in mind — these types of digital tipping programs can cause a host of problems for your staff. For example, paycard fees can quickly add up, effectively docking your servers’ pay.
Ideally, you should choose a solution that gives your people instant access to their earnings (the same immediate gratification they had with cash) with minimal disruption.
2. What will implementation look like?
New tech can be daunting — but digital tipping software should be simple to implement, especially if you’re running as a standalone system. Make sure you ask the vendor you’re evaluating about things like:
- How long will this take to implement?
- What kind of training or onboarding support can we expect?
- Are there any fees associated with the set up?
Bottom line: digital tipping should make your life easier, and that includes implementation. Make sure your solution has a clear, well-run process that gets you up and running fast.
3. How does user management work?
You have veteran employees who’ve been with you for years, others who are just around for a season, and even some who work at multiple locations. When digging into digital tipping options, look for a solution that automates user management, making it simple to add new users and new locations as your business evolves.
4. What happens when I need customer support?
When you’re introducing any new system or process, questions are inevitable.
If your digital tipping solution doesn’t also include a robust, always-on customer success team, you may find yourself lost in the midst of employee questions, operational chaos, and maybe even some regret. Rather than feeling frustrated, ensure success by seeking out tipping platforms that are there to support your transition and keep you afloat.
5. Will I be in compliance with tip pooling laws?
Tip pooling regulations are always changing (and vary from state to state), so your digital tipping solution should also be a tool to help you stay in compliance with the law. As you evaluate tipping solutions, ask if they put up guardrails to prevent any tip pooling mistakes that could result in serious fines and lawsuits.
Evaluating digital tipping solutions for your team? We’ve got you covered. Schedule time with our sales team today and we’ll answer any questions you throw at us.
Unless you’ve completely sworn off social media at the moment — and if that’s the case, no one would blame you! — you’ve probably heard some chatter around the new tipping model at Starbucks.
Long story short: Everyone has an opinion.
Some customers (and employees) feel that they’re being put in an awkward position because a tip isn’t warranted when there’s minimal guest-employee interaction. But others are grateful for the opportunity to give a small show of thanks for stretched-thin service providers. Plus, those tips can make a meaningful impact on employees’ take-home pay.
We’d venture to guess that this little firestorm isn’t just about Starbucks, but part of a much more layered conversation about tipping practices in general: how they’ve evolved in our digital age, and especially how they’re being embraced (or not…) by quick-service restaurants.
Real talk: Here at Kickfin, it’s no secret that we’re a pro-tipping team. We believe whole-heartedly that service industry employees make the world go round, and that tipping often increases their earning potential far beyond what revenue constraints would allow their employers to pay them. And of course, tipping can benefit employers, too.
But we can’t forget about the guest experience. Ultimately, tipping is voluntary and should always, always be at the discretion of the customer.
While QSRs are wise to keep pace with the times and digitize their tip jars: read on for a few best practices that will ensure your guests embrace the change (no pun intended…) and continue to think of tipping as an option, not a requirement.
But first: Is “Guilt Tipping” Real?
It happens every day: You place your order at the counter, the cashier turns the iPad around, and you’ve got to choose to leave a 20, 25 or 30% tip for the staff. (It seems like those percentages just keep climbing, right?)
Does a 30-second interaction necessitate a tip? Maybe, maybe not — but you find yourself frantically hitting a button because you don’t want to be the jerk who didn’t leave a tip.
There’s a name for that: guilt tipping. No one wants to short-change a service industry worker, and many of us even see tipping as some kind of barometer for morality.
Since tipping has expanded into new areas, there isn’t really a set custom for the “appropriate” amount to tip. Is it 20%, like you would at an FSR? Is it less? This uncertainty often leads people to panic-click on the most reasonable option on the screen out of guilt. Whether real or imagined, feelings of guilt around tipping can lead to major backlash from customers — and displaced anger at employees.
How to make QSR tips work for everyone
The truth is, most employees enjoy the wage boost that tips provide, and customers want to reward good service, even when they don’t have cash on hand. However, the benefits of credit card tips can be overshadowed by the awkward social customs around tipping. That’s why enabling credit card tips requires a bit of finesse.
Here are a few suggestions for enabling tipping without offending customers.
1. Change tip amounts
Rather than prompting customers to tip based on percentage, think of your credit card tips as a digital tip jar. Make the tip suggestions similar to what people would toss into a tip jar — like 75 cents, a dollar, or even just rounding up to the next dollar. Customers won’t feel the whiplash of their coffee order suddenly costing $3 more than it used to, but they still get the option to reward baristas for good service.
2. Avoid verbal tipping prompts
Nothing is more awkward – for employees and customers alike – than asking for a tip out loud. Employees don’t want to pressure their customers into leaving a tip, and no one wants to confidently say “no” in front of a line of people. Some customers may also feel uncomfortable stating how much they’d like to leave — as if they’re announcing how “good” of a person they are.
Instead, keep the tip prompts as private as possible. Include the prompts on the POS or credit card reader so your customers can silently decide on their tip amount.
3. Make it clear that tipping is optional
In the United States, most customers at FSRs are aware that servers rely on tips to supplement their take-home pay — and that they should tip appropriately for their service. But at a QSR, the lines get a little blurry. Is leaving a tip now an expectation (or even a requirement) for counter service?
Take the pressure off the customer, and leave no questions unanswered. Make it apparent that employees are paid hourly and that tips are just an optional bonus to their income, not their bread and butter.
You can also include language in your tip prompts that explicitly reminds customers that tips are optional. That way when the iPad swivels around to the customer, they know it’s not a moral question but rather just an extra thank-you to their regular barista.
Take digital tipping to the next level
Of course, now that you’re accepting more credit card tips, you’ll need an easy way to distribute them to staff. And we’ve got a few ideas. With Kickfin, you can instantly transfer tips straight to your employees’ bank accounts — meaning no cash runs and more financial freedom for employees. Request a demo of Kickfin today to learn more.
Kickfin recently sponsored and attended HT-Next, a premiere hotel technology conference. Over four days in Miami, Kickfin co-founders Justin Roberts and Brian Hassan met with hospitality industry leaders, tech innovators, and top hotel operators to learn about key goals and concerns for 2023. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event.
Renewed Focus on Sustainability
Grant Romundt, co-founder of Ocean Builders, spoke to an industry trend that’s been building for a while (and isn’t slowing down): sustainability. Now more than ever, guests want to patronize businesses that share their core values and beliefs. Specifically, they’re choosing hotels based on how much those brands are doing to protect the environment, especially in beautiful, tropical locations.
Ocean Builders is aiming to do just that by building high-tech eco-restorative floating homes that provide guests with a one-of-a-kind experience while also preserving the ecosystem to serve guests for generations to come.
Expanding the Guest Experience
The hospitality experience you create isn’t limited to the four walls of your hotel. Instead, it extends to every aspect of your guest’s stay, including the activities they do while they’re away from the hotel. With that in mind, HT-Next partnered with Mobi to explore the possibilities of hyper-personalized guest experiences built by AI.
AI now offers you the opportunity to build the perfect trip for each individual guest. Using guest data and your knowledge of the area around your hotel, you can build AIs that will plan a personalized suggested itinerary for your guests, taking hospitality to the next level.
Bouncing Back from Covid
Most of us might feel like things are “back to normal,” but some hotels are still feeling the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic. And they’re turning to tech to bring them back to life.
A panel of Miami hotel general managers shared how they stayed afloat during the height of the pandemic, how the travel and hospitality industries are bouncing back, and how tech has quickly become a huge part of their daily operations.
Solving Labor Shortage Concerns
Labor continues to be a point of contention in hospitality. Questions about how to attract new hires and how to retain the employees you have continue to vex hoteliers in this tight labor market. The answer isn’t as simple as raising wages (although that doesn’t hurt). Instead, industry leaders are looking to technology to help create better work environments and more streamlined processes to get things done, even at sub-optimal staffing levels.
At Kickfin, our goal is to provide hotel staff with more opportunities to earn tips through digital tipping software — allowing for guests to tip more often in an increasingly cashless society. We also simplify the tip payment process so employees have access to their earnings faster (a major selling point for potential hires).
Our main takeaway: Hotel technology isn’t going anywhere. Expect to see more automated hotel operations, better uses of guest data, and sky-high guest experience expectations.
It seems tipping laws are constantly in flux — and we have yet another update for you.
If you own restaurants in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, your state legislators have introduced several new laws that aim to protect servers, especially when it comes to tips. Take a look at these important new tipping regulations (and see how digital tipping technology can help you stay in compliance with the law).
Tips are the property of employees only
Have you been saving money by passing on the cost of credit card transaction fees to your tipped employees? This new rule might disrupt your business practices.
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have joined California, Maine, and Massachusetts in banning the practice of deducting credit card service fees from employees’ tips. Their state legislators clarified that tips belong only to employees — and therefore, cannot be garnished to cover credit card transaction fees.
New Jersey took it a step further, stating that employers may not deduct from employees’ tips for any reason. This includes:
- Cash register shortages
- Damaged or lost employer property
- Purchasing uniforms
- Any required tools or other items necessary for employment
Changes to the Tip Credit
New Jersey and Pennsylvania are also aiming to increase earnings for tipped employees, which means changes to the tip credit. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works in each state.
New Jersey’s minimum wage for tipped employees and the maximum tip credit will incrementally increase through 2024, ultimately resulting in an overall increase in employee compensation. Minimum tipped employee wages will reach $5.13 per hour, and the tip credit will rise to $9.87 per hour. These incremental changes will ensure that tipped employees earn at least $15 per hour — on par with New Jersey’s minimum wage requirements.
In Pennsylvania, the tip credit amount isn’t increasing, but restaurant owners have to meet new requirements in order to benefit from the tip credit. In the past, employers could pay tipped employees $2.83 per hour as long as employees earned at least $30 each month in tips — an undeniably low standard. Pennsylvania law now requires that employers can only take the tip credit for employees who earn at least $135 per month in tips.
Permanent 80/20 Rule
How much time do your servers spend on side work compared to time spent on direct service? You might remember the federal “80/20” rule, which stated that employers may only take the tip credit for employees who spend no more than 20% of their work time on non-tipped activities.
On the federal level, this ruling has gone back and forth during the past few presidential administrations, so Pennsylvania took matters into their own hands by permanently instating an 80/20 rule.
Making service charges more clear for customers
If your restaurant charges significant operational fees (for example: a 10% service charge to rent a private room or 15% for parties over 10 people), your customers may confuse that service charge for an auto-gratuity tip. Often, guests think they’ve already compensated wait staff for their service — and your servers are left empty-handed.
In New Jersey, employers are prohibited from counting these operational charges as tips (even if they are distributed among employees). Pennsylvania goes even further, and now requires that restaurants make it abundantly clear that service fees or operational charges are not tips by putting them as separate line items on receipts. This new law is designed to prevent confusion on the guests’ part that might cause them to short-change servers.
How can Kickfin help you adjust to new rules?
With Kickfin, you can set up guardrails to ensure that you follow federal, state, and local laws when tipping out your staff. If you were already using Kickfin’s holdback function to pass on transaction fees to your servers, adjusting to the new state laws will be as simple as changing the settings in your account. Reach out to your customer success representative with any questions.
Not sending cashless, digital tip outs with Kickfin yet? Request a demo to see how we can help you comply with tipping regulations — and more.