Scott with a Cafe Mocha Oh hey! That's me, sipping on a Cafe Mocha. I'm not big on coffee, but on an increasingly cold November day in Des Moines, one of these really hits the spot.

I got it from Freidrich's, a small chain of quick-service coffee stands in our area. My Freidrich's mocha made for a nice morning. The staff was friendly as ever, my drink was made quickly, and I was off to the office with hardly a bump in my schedule. Also, it was delicious.

There was one weird thing about my experience, however: I couldn't tip! As someone who rarely carries cash, I had to pay by credit card. As the purchase was under $25, they didn't ask me to sign. Since they didn't ask me to sign for it, and I had no cash, I had no opportunity to tip the kind folks who made my drink.

So somebody didn't get tipped, and I don't get to deduct a $4 coffee that is now totally a business expense. Big whoop, right? Maybe not, if you consider that this probably happens a few dozen times a day at just that stand. I've seen the line a good 15 people deep during the early morning hours and over lunch.

Let's breakdown a hypothetical scenario:

  • On a given Tuesday, Between 7am and 8am, 40 people buy an espresso-based drink at an average price of $3.50.
  • Based on our current survey results, I can safely estimate that 75%, or 30, of those people will pay with a credit card.
  • My barista housemate estimates half of the customers at her shop tip something. The tips vary from rounding up to a whole dollar amount (like $3.50 to $4.00) to a dollar or two or three if they're having a good day. For simplicity's sake, we'll pick an average tip of one dollar per customer.

Are you already doing the same math I am? In a single hour, a server could be missing out on up to $30 in tips. Thirty! I don't know about you, but I'd hate to miss out on an extra 30 bones.

I can understand not wanting to slow down a busy line and have 40 people sign for their morning coffee, but its a pretty unfortunate compromise. Strange checkout experiences like this one fuel our imagination and keep the team motivated while working on Change.

How could you fix this? What if I could hop on a website right now, pull up my order, see the names of the folks who served me, and throw a buck or two their way? What if I could go further and compliment the gentleman who made my drink on the flavor, texture, and temperature? What if I could by my drink without cash or credit and still tip?

What about you? I can't be the only socially awkward penguin out there agonizing over wanting to have tipped and not being given the opportunity. Servers, owners, customers: we want to hear from you. Drop a note in the comments and let's talk about tips!

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AuthorScott Kubie