Do you value security or potential of higher income? That is essentially what it comes down to. Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to work in both the back (the grill line) and the front (as a host and busser) of the restaurant. I’ve had the opportunity to work at higher end restaurants (a sushi restaurant) with positive work atmospheres as well as lower-priced restaurants (Cracker Barrel) with slight less positive work environments.
Which is better?
To me clearly the former. However often because of connections, resume or simply location, starting at a higher end restaurant isn’t always an option. Although to be clear, higher end doesn’t always mean more positive work environment.
So back to the original question, which is better, to work at a tip-based job or something more stable like an hourly job?
If you believe in your abilities to work hard, be personable, sell to customers, and meet the basic requirements of your job, then the tip-based job will pay you much more over the long-term. However if you aren’t sure of you skills then working an hourly job can be better.
There are 2 keys that you need to follow when working a commissioned job verses a regular job:
1) How much you make is ultimately up to you (and the overall business of the restaurant)
Taking responsibility for every aspect of your job, especially when you get paid via tips, is crucial to making money. If you don’t acknowledge and adapt to weaknesses, mistakes and challenges along the way, you won’t be able to make the money you are probably aiming for.
2) Communicate with your supervisor as well as your fellow employees
Without communication, especially when the restaurant is busy, you risk losing your income, confidence, and sanity all at once. When things get busy, it can be especially easy to slack off when it comes to taking to the people around you. However when this happens items get dropped, customers, employees and managers get pissed, and you usually don’t get the type of tip you were striving for.
Ultimately I recommend getting a tip-based job over an hourly job simply for the reason that it can challenge you more and usually brings in more income.