We are thrilled to announce that we worked our tails off to get an insurance company to give us a group policy for our teeny tiny staff! We didn’t think it was possible! We now offer BCBS to all full time employees after 90 days!
We learned many things during this process- one of which was that if we wanted to give our staff access to a great PPO plan, the restaurant would have to pay for half of each employees benefits. We simply don’t have the profit margin to cover this… so we were a bit down. We considered raising prices to cover the insurance, but quickly realized that raising the prices would cause us to bring in more funds than we needed to cover the new costs. Raising prices didn’t feel right. We also wanted to shout it from the roof tops that we had accomplished this seemingly impossible feat for our beloved staff. (Why is it so hard to take care of your staff as a small business?) So we brainstormed & remembered that in a trip to LA we saw many menus that stated a 4% fee would be added to the bill to cover employee benefits. We thought it was a great way to be transparent about where the money was going, rather than just not say anything and raise the prices.
We spent many days researching legality of this fee, reading about pushback that other restaurants had felt from this new sur-charge, and about how to manage it from an accounting standpoint.
Example: if we raise our prices by $1/item and you order 4 appetizers in lieu of an entree you would pay $4 more, whereas if you order the same meal which costs $42 and we charge a 3% fee, your added cost is $1.26. Much more reasonable.
on our menu, in bold print, we state ” 3% will be added to the bill to allow us to provide health insurance to our full time employees. If you would like to have this removed, please let your server know.”
This fee is 100% optional, and some have asked to have it removed, we do so with no qualms. How? because all of the funds accrued through this fee are automatically placed in a separate account. Any amount over what we owe for the month stays in that account to cover any shortage that may happen in the future. We look at the account monthly to decide if the percentage needs to be adjusted. (if we accrue too much, the percentage will be lowered to even this out.) So far, we have been pretty even. So if a few guests ask to have it removed, it is still accounted for on our end.
We want you to know where the added cost is going. We don’t want to bury it in profit margin where it could get lost or misunderstood. We want you to know how important our staff are to us. We want you to feel confident that your money is going to support the employees, not pad someones pockets.
Our staff are thrilled to have access to quality insurance, & happy to talk about it when asked. We no longer lose quality staff to bigger companies simply because they offer health insurance. Our staff now are able to go to the doctor if they are sick, and able to get healthy & back to work much quicker than if they tried to wait the sickness out. Best of all, the staff feel appreciated.
We have received great response from most guests, many of which are very excited for us. We have also received some awful reviews, some of which are from people who haven’t even been to the restaurant, people who have only read about the fee on a well meaning online post and have twisted it into a dark money-grubbing scheme. Worst of all, we have had people comment that they don’t feel that we deserve to have health insurance because of the career we have chosen. We don’t believe that simply because our career choices are that of labor & service versus intellect & office cubicles, that we don’t deserve access to quality health care.
We love our guests, we love our staff, & most of all, we love hospitality. It’s simply hard to be hospitable if you are sick and can’t afford a doctor without insurance.
Thank you for supporting our teeny-tiny family restaurant. We love you!
Q: “How do you keep funds separate from profit?”
A: We use a separate quickbooks account to hold theses funds, all funds in this account are used solely for employee health benefits
Q: “What if you begin to accrue an overage?”
A: Any overage will be stored in the account to cover any gaps that occur when new employees sign on, or when we have a slower month in sales
Q: “Who is eligible for these health benefits?”
A: Any full time employee is eligible after 90 days of employment at F&D
Q:”Why doesn’t management just pay fair wages & provide benefits to their staff without passing the buck to their guests?” (actual online rant)
A: In a business all funds come directly from the consumer, in a restaurant, the guest is the consumer. No matter where it is on your receipt, it is there. There are no other sources of income at F&D, we do not have any secret stashes of expendable cash. Taking care of our employees is a cost of business, just as paper towels & cleaning supplies are a cost of business. We chose to be transparent about this charge & make it optional.
Q:”Do people choose to tip less because of this charge”
A: People do occasionally make the decision to take the amount out of the tip line, that is fine, & the servers have expressed that it is more important to them to have access the adequate health care. We do prefer that they just ask to have the line removed from the bill.