March 27, 2013

Follow Their Lead

Tip Cup
How much service
can you actually give me
at the drive through?
Let alone exceptional service?
I find it offensive to suggest we tip everyone these days. Don't misunderstand, I like tipping for good service, particularly if it's exceptional service. I will also write on the check or speak to a manager if I receive great service. Unfortunately, I find that the opposite is most often the practice of the general public. Complaining isn't wrong if service is terrible, but it's wrong to rarely speak up when service is really good. Most of us need to practice this kind of gratitude more often. I don't mean just at an elegant establishment, but rather everywhere. I actually spoke to the manager once in a drive-through (yes, that was me holding up the line). I just couldn't help it. The woman at the register was always so pleasant and sweet, I just had to report her to her boss. This, I feel was an appropriate response for her service.
That being said, tipping has gotten out of control. Why is there a tip jar everywhere we go? The drive through window? The walk up counter? Isn't this really self service? Yes, I agree their wages aren't great, but correct me if I'm wrong, these employees aren't paid below the minimum wage like waiters who actually wait on you at your table. So, let's leave the outrage over wages for another time. Handing a bagel and coffee to me at the counter does not warrant a tip. Even worse, hand me an empty cup that I need to fill at a station does not warrant a tip, yet there is a tip jar out. 
All that said, the first time I walked into a Panera Bread cafe where they handed me a cup to fill, I tipped generously. Why? Because their "tip jars" are actually donation jars for charity. At my Panera it's the Harry Chapin Food Bank. I was so moved, and perhaps relieved, I now tip every time I go. Given a choice between Starbucks and Panera, I choose Panera Bread most of the time for this very reason. I think their coffee is pretty much a tie. I learned later that Panera Bread also donates their unsold goods each day to a food bank - even more impressive!

My Point

Intended or not their charitable efforts are, of course, wonderful, but also great marketing! By doing a good thing, or in their case many good things, they've created good will in the minds of their community and perhaps inspired their citizens. I can get coffee and help feed the hungry. 
Now, I'm not suggesting that marketing was their intent. I think the contrary is actually true of them. I think it's who they are as a company. In fact, it's only recently that their commercials actually describe their efforts. But a positive impression reward for their efforts is HUGE! A well deserved bonus. It's just a fact that their endeavors are also great marketing! The point of this post is - follow their lead. If you are philanthropic, incorporate it into your business in ways that show up for you. It's good to let people know who you truly are as a company. If you would donate or volunteer regardless, it's certainly o.k. to brag about it. In fact it's a part of your image that you should brag about. My hope is it will increase your business so you can be even more philanthropic and inspirational!


Panera's history of anti-hunger efforts are to be admired and, I hope, modeled by others. Here's their latest effort: According to Huff Post Good New, "Order a bowl of turkey chili at a St. Louis-area Panera Bread cafe and it'll cost you a mere penny. Or $5. Or $100. In other words, whatever you decide...whatever the customer chooses to pay...Panera calls it the Meal of Shared Responsibility, and says the potential benefit is twofold: Above-the-cost proceeds go to cover meals for customers who cannot pay the full amount and to St. Louis-area hunger initiatives; and for those in need, the 850-calorie meal provides nearly a day's worth of nutrition at whatever price they can afford. If the experiment works in St. Louis, it could be expanded to some or all of the chain's 1,600 bakery-cafes across the country, though Shaich said there is no guarantee and no timetable for a decision."

I also recently discovered that a local food bank in my area gets donations from places like Sams Club, Costco and BJ's of perfectly good items like baggies or foil that can't be sold because their exterior carton have been compromised. I think it's wonderful! More kudos!!!!

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