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Thread: How to position yourself for a tip?

  1. #31
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Limo Wire has it right. Waitstaff get paid in a fashion that they are living off of their tips. Their hourly wage is very small. A lot of livery companies do the same thing - pay their chauffeurs assuming they are pulling in another 15-20% in tips. Jim, if everyone paid their chauffeurs without assuming they were going to get another 15% on top of it, then there would be no need to tell the client that gratuity was not included and the chauffeur would not get upset if they got stiffed. The gratuity argument is a lot like the IC argument where there are too many variables to have a right and wrong answer. Another thing to consider is some companies/chauffeurs might do multiple trips in a day (big city sedan chauffeur might do multiple trips to/from airport) like waitstaff, so if you get stiffed on one it is not a big deal as in an hour you will have a chance to make it up. If you are paying your chauffeurs well enough that the tip is just "icing on the cake", then there is no need to write the clients a letter if they get stiffed.
    Rich Rottier
    219.808.0976 | richrottier@gmail.com

  2. #32
    Super Moderator Limo Scene's Avatar
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    I knew this was going to get good.........

    Limo Svc - I too adjust tips according to the level of service provided and it can range widely from 50% on down to a quarter. If I leave a quarter or a nickle, I do so because I want to make absolutely sure the server knows that I did not "forget" the tip or there was no confusion in my party that "somoeone elese was taking care of the tip". I want that person to kow that they were worth a quarter or whatever change I have in my pockets.

    Limo Wire: I absolutely concur that the way most livery companies pay their people is chintzy. What is really missed here....and I tried to slide it in....is loyalty! My people stay forever and ever. If every limo company in the city pays minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage, your people are never going to leave their $17 an hour wage to go collect $8.00 or whatever it is. What you pay your chauffeurs is a direct investment in the most important job in the company. They are the front line ambassador of your company. They have face-to-face time with the client, control of your vehicle etc. You have no more important asset than the people who work for you. THEY are the company. Not you! THEY determine if a client comes back - not YOU!. You better take care of them. If more companies just ponied up more money for their chauffeurs, they would stay longer and the longer they stay, the more consistent your operations are. As far as my off-the-cuff comment about what chauffeurs do, it was a summarization. I am the first to tell new recruits that you are a tour guide, a nurse, a counselor, a babysitter, a concierge, a bellman, a representative, a bodyguard, a friend, a janitor and many more things. Chauffeurs are expected to know where everything is from the nearest Kinko's to the nearest Italian restaurant - even if you are 100 miles away from home. You are a true professional if you can walk your clients to the front of the line of a nightclub and get them right in. If you have special parking privileges at certain restaurants or clubs, you know you are good. I did not in anyway mean to diminish the work we do.......but, it still isn't worth $40/hour.......I'm just sayin'. There are so many more important positions in life that require much more education and do not command $40 per hour.

    Rich - I can tell you there is an absolute need to send that letter. My chauffeurs get tipped regularly and handsomely. In fact, I had a client call me on Wednesday that I know I stole from another limousine company about two years ago. He said he wanted me to know that "the thing that sets you apart from any other limousine company I have ever used is the service". "Your chauffeurs are all about customer service". I asked what prompted the call. He said that everytime the car shows up he has a large bottle of Evian water (not what we carry) and an L.A. Times newspaper. Those are not standard items in our car. But, for him they are! I don't buy that stuff - his chauffeurs do and each of them know about it from sharing the info with each other. The chauffeur who was driving him received a $25 bonus that day for generating a compliment and that $25 bonus is POLICY at our place. A memo is written, posted on the wall, a copy placed in the employee file and the employee given the memo with his bonus. That's how you should treat your chauffeurs.

    Got off topic there for a minute.......so you see Rich, if we have a run that doesn't tip, it is extremely abnormal and I really need to know, along with the chauffeur....what went wrong? If there is a problem, we both need to know what that problem was to fix it. It is vitally important to me to know if there were any service issues and since we do tell them up front that the gratuity is left up to them, they know. My letter clearly gives them an "out" to call me if there was a problem but if not.....no problem....just checking on the delivery of our service and if there are no issues, we are all happy.

    Hope that clears things up.
    Jim A. Luff
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    Limousine Scene - An Award Winning Company Since 1990
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  3. #33
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limo Scene View Post

    Hope that clears things up.
    I understand the point of the letter - you could send out a thank you note along with a quick survey asking how the performance was.

    I guess my point in the whole thread is that if you pay your chauffeurs well, there is no need to hammer into the clients' head that tip is not included. The people that enjoy tipping and appreciate good service will always throw in extra. We get above our mandatory 20% constantly - I believe it is not only our service, but the clientele we have.

    I love tipping. I tip my garbage person, mail person, pizza delivery person, car wash attendant, hot dog stand servers, waitstaff, etc. The only industries that allow the customer to pay 80% of the contracted price and then pay the remainder depending on their mood is restaurants (bars) and livery. Every industry depends on service and quality to sell their product. Almost every industry has employees that are responsible to insure that. Every other industry pays their employees a set wage and if the employee under performs, then there is a process to correct the problem - training, warning, or elimination and a refund policy for the customer. To allow your customers to determain your employees wages is risky in my opinion. For the record, we have not had any complaints against our included tip. That's not to say that there are not some that do not like it. If we ever get a complaint on our service we take it very seriously and have decided to refund some monies in the last 3 years. If a client is not satisfied with our service, we will do what we can to correct it. Being under tipped does not always mean the service was bad. I do not want any of my chauffeurs going home at night (morning) upset because they got screwed because someone was cheap - that is just how I feel. Any way I can control the quality of service/product is better for the company.
    Rich Rottier
    219.808.0976 | richrottier@gmail.com

  4. #34
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    Jim, while I do not know you personally, I do think that I have some insight to who you are based on what you post and write on different sites, with that said I do not think you were diminishing your chauffeurs and I think your previous comment was really a throw away comment and I agree that being a chauffeur does not warrant $40.00 an hour. But if a client deems them to be a $40.00 an hour chauffeur, then let the big dogs eat!! But you are correct that MOST companies, at least what I have seen in MD do not value their chauffeurs, Sal you are excluded before you start putting pen to paper. And they do have some crazy payroll situations for chauffeurs. And tend not to value their front line face to face employees.
    I want to die while asleep like my grandfather,
    not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

  5. #35
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limo Wire View Post
    Jim, while I do not know you personally, I do think that I have some insight to who you are based on what you post and write on different sites, with that said I do not think you were diminishing your chauffeurs and I think your previous comment was really a throw away comment and I agree that being a chauffeur does not warrant $40.00 an hour. But if a client deems them to be a $40.00 an hour chauffeur, then let the big dogs eat!! But you are correct that MOST companies, at least what I have seen in MD do not value their chauffeurs, Sal you are excluded before you start putting pen to paper. And they do have some crazy payroll situations for chauffeurs. And tend not to value their front line face to face employees.
    In case there was confusion, I agree about Jim's relationship with his employees.
    Rich Rottier
    219.808.0976 | richrottier@gmail.com

  6. #36

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    Jim has it right !

    The gratuity is up to the client. He can go with the industry standard gratuity, add more, pay less-whatever the client wants to do. Seamless service and Customization are the defining elements of a professional livery. The people in your vehicles make or break you. A Chauffeur who learns how to "work it " while commiting to the art of service is the most valuable asset you have. Everything else in your firm is a back-office function.
    Dean Schuler

  7. #37

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    We move the movers and shakers of the corporate world. Many feel that my chauffeurs are worth $40.00 an hour and tip them accordingly.
    Dean Schuler

  8. #38
    Senior Member Cedar Mill Limousine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Schuler View Post
    We move the movers and shakers of the corporate world. Many feel that my chauffeurs are worth $40.00 an hour and tip them accordingly.
    Being new to the industry and trying to understand all markets, does your company make a point during any point in the reservation consultation that gratuity is not included?
    Rich Rottier
    219.808.0976 | richrottier@gmail.com

  9. #39
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    Not every one in this business move the "movers and shakers". Most just move "Joe Lunch Box" for a once in a lifetime adventure and Joe can hardly afford the service let alone a $40.00 an hour tip. Mr. Schuler you are truly blesseed to have such a client list.

  10. #40
    Senior Member Fairfax Limo's Avatar
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    We mostly move Joe Six-Packs.
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  11. #41
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    Fairfax since you move Joe 6 pack, do you add gratuity to your bill? In the Baltimore market we found that most retail work it was better for chauffeur to add the gratuity. This helped to insure the chauffeur did in fact get taken care. Nothing worse than dealing with a bunch of drunks for 6 hours and find out they were out of money at the end of the night.

    We in the past had sent or called the client if the chauffeur got stiffed, in most cases the retail client would come up with some BS of why they did not tip the chauffeur. It would crack me up when they did not know that I was the owner as well as the chauffeur and they would go into why I did not get tipped. The bottom line was they just did not want to pay anymore money.
    I want to die while asleep like my grandfather,
    not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

  12. #42

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    The value of a tip. No matter if its a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk most think they are over paying. Now when in a market where there is a high % of passengers that wont provide a tip (Value) you can stipulate as we do in this market or you can increase pay as they have in others, but getting my check on Friday doesn't equate to finding 10 dollars when walking down the street (Value). I'm not sure what others learned when growing up but I learned and my kids are being taught that all service people get a tip.

  13. #43
    Senior Member Fairfax Limo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limo Wire View Post
    Fairfax since you move Joe 6 pack, do you add gratuity to your bill? In the Baltimore market we found that most retail work it was better for chauffeur to add the gratuity. This helped to insure the chauffeur did in fact get taken care. Nothing worse than dealing with a bunch of drunks for 6 hours and find out they were out of money at the end of the night.

    We in the past had sent or called the client if the chauffeur got stiffed, in most cases the retail client would come up with some BS of why they did not tip the chauffeur. It would crack me up when they did not know that I was the owner as well as the chauffeur and they would go into why I did not get tipped. The bottom line was they just did not want to pay anymore money.
    I admit I was making a bad attempt at political humor and a cheap laugh when I said Joe 6 Pack, but yes we definitely deal with folks from all walks. We've tried the whole tip thing every way imaginable, and now yes we do add tip to every reservation as standard. It has worked great this way, and in fact a lot of our customers will still reach in their pockets for something extra at the end of the night on top of whats already included.
    FAIRFAX LIMO - Northern Virginia and Washington DC Limo Service

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  14. #44
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    I agree, add the gratuity and if you provide great, memorable service some people will dig a bit deeper, but if they don't at least your chauffeur is covered.
    I want to die while asleep like my grandfather,
    not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.

  15. #45
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    We add a 10% gratuity in for our chauffeurs. This allows us to keep our prices competitive in our cut throat market. Whenever the client makes the reservations, we let them know there is 10% added. When they get their confirmation by email, it shows the % on it also. A lot of times, they will ask what is customary, we tell them industry standard is 15-20%, but whatever they feel comfortable with is fine. This makes sure the chauffeur does get a little extra anyway. Especially on weddings, where that's the last thing on everyones mind. Most of the time, on retail, they will get an extra tip on top of that. Granted, on corporate runs, most clients expect the tip to be added in, so they may or may not tip any extra. If the client asks the chauffeur if a tip is included, they tell them 10% is already included, but under no circumstance whatsoever, do they ask or insinuate that they need to be tipped more. Around here, one of the quickest ways to get fired is to ask for a tip in any way, form, or fashion. I pay my guys a decent salary to begin with, so they are fine with the 10% if they don't get any extra. They know in the long run, they will average $20-$30 per hour anyway (which I think is decent).
    Jerry Thomas

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