Tipping goes digital; Because restaurants want it


At a time when no one wants to say that COVID-19 was well for business, more and more executives in the digital arena are willing to at least say that the pandemic was a major catalyst for reform.

One of them is Kickfin CEO Brian Hassan, who recently spoke at a panel discussion with Karen Webster, Ingo Money CEO Drew Edwards, and Reed Daniels, CEO of Minnesota-based Red’s Savoy pizza chain, talked about how tips restaurants are becoming electronic.

COVID-19 promotes change

Hassan said the pandemic has forced restaurants to embrace change around tips and just about everything in between. “The opportunity to re-evaluate all of the different business systems has never been better,” said Hassan.

He said restaurateurs previously had “very little bandwidth available” to address different aspects of their business, but now Hassan is seeing a much more proactive approach.

“What we’re finding is that many different restaurant operators are saying,” Let’s go ahead and put everything on a blackboard here – anything that requires an improvement process – and select from the most important to the least important, “he said.” And that. what we’re finding is that most of them are slamming the entire list from top to bottom. “

Hassan added that Kickfin’s restaurant instant checkout business focused a few years ago on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but he began to see broader corporate clientele come on board, especially in the service restaurant space. rapid (QSR).

A greater openness to new ideas

Historically employees and customers have approached any change with skepticism, but the unprecedented disruptions of COVID-19 have made many people more open to accepting new things.

Daniels, CEO of Red’s Savoy, said that even though its food and beverage businesses essentially evaporated in March, take-away and home delivery have taken off. The time has come to reassess everything.

“It has given us the opportunity to rotate, with clients who are incredibly understanding right now and willing to punch,” Daniels said. This allowed it to implement instant payment changes across its 17 stores with far less pushback than would have occurred before COVID.

The rise of electronic tips

For example, Daniels cited the recent adoption by its chain of electronic acceptance, processing and payment of tips. This is an area for improvement that Daniels believes has improved the lives of customers, employees and managers.

Daniels said switching to eTipping allowed him to stop running to the bank all the time in cash to pay tips or make changes – good news as many bank branches have closed. Lines are also formed to enter the remaining branches, while the shortage of coins made it difficult to switch.

He said instant tipping payments also reduced the need to keep cash in safes to reimburse staff.

Making eTipping work

Estimates show that tips can represent up to 70% of the total income of some restaurant workers. This is one of the reasons employees like the idea of ​​receiving tips instantly on their bank accounts, as Uber and Lyft do with pay, instead of receiving that pay every two weeks by check.

Daniels said electronic suggestion processing is basically the same function it has always performed, only slightly different. But the fact that his company has so many employees involved in so many locations has come with a number of implementation challenges.

Edwards of Ingo Money said restaurant recommendations are one of the most difficult and dispersed instant payment use cases, as it has thousands upon thousands of different operators running businesses of all sizes.

For example, Edwards said, not all employees have a bank account or one that is functioning properly at all times to receive their suggestions.

“Workers have multiple types of accounts,” he said. “They are no longer just bank accounts. So, we need to focus on the complexities [and] component of the last mile “to make payments work properly.

The suggestions go above the tab

Restaurant employees have historically kept tipping income “under the table” to avoid taxes. But Daniels said digitizing that revenue creates a valuable and necessary record for many purposes.

For example, he said that when restaurant employees take out a loan, their bank accounts have historically shown they were making no money even though they may have a lot of cash on hand. Daniels said similar problems often arise when these workers apply for unemployment benefits, which are based on taxable income that applicants can document.

Keeping tipping earnings above limits via a platform like Kickfin allows workers to build credit and have a better chance of meeting their financial goals, he said.

Panel members said there is also a security component to eliminate employees leaving a restaurant late at night with $ 100 in cash in their pocket.

As Hassan put it: “There are 15 million employees in the restaurant business, and that’s the way it has to be done.”



The How We Shop report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research is based on a series of studies conducted since March, which examined over 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payment preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their growing appetite for online commerce and touchless digital methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards, and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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