For those who are not familiar with the service industry, employees are paid minimally by the company they work for and their pay rate is determined by the tips received from customers. As a bartender, a person is exposed to having to deal with all sorts of peoples’ needs as well as employee competition and standard operating procedures set forth by management. Every time a drink is poured, a decision must be made whether to follow company standards or give away extra alcohol in order to receive a larger tip.
When first being promoted to bartender at an established golf resort, I witnessed firsthand the different factors that can affect one’s “pour.” A pour can be defined as how much liquor is added to a customer’s drink. The three factors that affect one’s pour are as follows: comparisons to other employees pours, the requests of customers for extra pours with compensation of a larger tip, and what the company designates as a pour.
When working as a team or having repeat customers. bartenders are compared based on their pour. If one bartender uses two pours and another uses one pour (the latter is the standard for the company), the rule-following bartender is not viewed as favorably as the one using the larger pour. This is clearly reflected in tips from customers. Similarly, the customer might say, “Put a little extra in there and I’ll take care of you.” The employee is put on the spot to choose between the company and him or herself.
The bartender with the heavier pour or who gives away drinks for free may receive more money in their tip cup but the company suffers from lost revenues. If a bartender makes an average of 100 drinks a night and uses two pours instead of one for each drink, that bartender is giving away 100 drinks worth of alcohol each night which reduces nightly revenues, and has a huge effect on yearly liquor revenues.
In this highly competitive and profitable industry, over pouring is a practice that can cripple a business. As the newest bartender, one wants to fit in with the other bartenders and earn as much money as possible though it costs the company or “house” profits. Which is more important, filling your own tip cup or maximizing the house’s profits that does not directly benefit the bartender?
Is it ethical to over pour customers’ drinks in order to develop better customer relations to earn more tips at the expense of company revenues? Are the bartenders using the “entitlement mentality” here to justify their self-serving actions? Do bartenders have a “right” to take care of their own cups?