Sodexo policy allows workers’ incentives rather than tips.
Management at the TECH Center Starbucks is now enforcing a policy that prohibits tipping barristas because the store is licensed by Temple’s food-service provider, Sodexo.
“I generally give [baristas] a dollar when I get a cup of coffee,” said Dave Portner, a junior film major. “I’ve worked in the service industry and I think it’s important to show appreciation.”
It is Starbucks’ company policy for workers to accept tips as a way to supplement their income. Employees at popular coffee shops typically rely on tips from customers to compensate receiving an hourly pay below minimum wage.
Sodexo however pays at a higher rate than a typical Starbucks and has a policy in place, prohibiting its employees from receiving tip money.
“The policy is that we do not accept tips,” said Mindy Segal, director of Dining Services. “Iʼve been here for going on 10 years and it has always been our policy. Weʼd rather just actually have our employees do a great job and be recognized for a job well done instead of ﬁghting over $7 or $8 in change at the end of the day.”
Though Starbucks is well-known for its business model that excludes franchising, Sodexo is able to purchase the rights to a license and run a branded store.
Segal said in order to accurately represent the brand, managers and employees are sent through the company’s training. Starbucks is one of several national brands that have licensed stores on Main Campus, including Einstein Bros. Bagels and Auntie Annes Pretzels.
“Sodexo respects the integrity of these brands and [though] our policies are sometimes not aligned 100 percent, I donʼt think in any company like that the policies are going to be 100 percent aligned,” Segal said. “[Employees] will wear those companies’ uniforms but as far as the ways we incent our employees, or pay our employees or discipline our employees, they all come from Sodexoʼs standards.”
Despite the rule prohibiting it, some customers may remember seeing tip cups on the counter at the TECH Center’s Starbucks in the past.
Store Manager Justin Schlaffer said this was because previous managers were relaxed about the policy. When customers would request to leave tips, he said, employees wouldn’t know what to do and would set out a cup, which the former manager would permit.
However, Schlaffer said he is committed to enforcing Sodexo’s policy.
“Iʼve been telling [employees] to let customers know that itʼs our policy not to accept tips and if a customer has an issue with that, the workers can come get me in the back,” Schlaffer said. “I understand everyone wants to make more money but I explained to them the situation, our policy, the fact that on average they are paid more starting than other Starbucks [location employees] are.”
“As long as we are doing a good job and having the store make money, then there is money in the budget to give them raises,” he added.
Sodexo’s alternative to tipping comes in the form of an incentive program that relies on customer feedback.
Customers that have a positive experience are encouraged to fill out comment cards with the name of their server. At the beginning of every shift, managers lead the employees in a “huddle,” and these comment cards are discussed. Every week, one is chosen and the employee mentioned in the positive comment receives a bonus in their pay check.
Schlaffer said that when he became Starbucks’ store manager two months ago, he discussed the program with workers and reported that they had a positive response to the idea.
“For the most part, most of the students are fairly happy working with us. We have a low turnover rate,” Schlaffer said. “A lot of my student workers have been at Starbucks since they started college.”
Though the program has not been previously implemented at the TECH Center Starbucks, Schlaffer says he is in the process of bringing the initiative to the store. He hopes the program will be in place after October.
Junior psychology major and Starbucks employee Sarah Stein said the incentive process will have a positive impact on her work day.
“It’s going to be in my mind when I speak to customers,” Stein said. “I’ll work extra hard and there will always be a smile on my face.”
Because of increased student and faculty interest in the issue of tipping, Segal said her team will begin looking into ways of informing customers about Sodexo’s incentive program, which is already in place in the Student Center and at other dining services around Main Campus.
“With the fact that this did come up as a topic, we can speak with our marketing people on campus and maybe do some type of signage so that [customers] know itʼs something that is available to them and how important it is,” Segal said. “Maybe [it could be] some type of visual stimuli for the customers to know that if weʼre doing a great job, to let us know. Something stating that the biggest tip to us would be to let us know how great weʼre doing.”
Kate Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.