How about an easier tip jar?

Tip Jar Walking around New York you find yourself stopping at plenty of different places to grab some takeout for lunch. There are Vietnamese sandwich places, pizza shops, noodle bars, taco stands, juice bars and of course your daily coffee shop. You’ll find an endless variety.

As is customary in New York, even for takeout there is usually a tip jar at the checkout. Many of them have a large bowl, or glass jar in which you can throw your change as tips, or if you really love the place and service, a couple of dollars.

Of late I’ve noticed a few have placed those small plastic boxes with a tiny slot on the top. You try to put some change in the slot, and half of the money falls on the floor. It’s as frustrating as threading a needle while suffering from astigmatic vision. Now when I come to a place that has this plastic box, I don’t even bother tipping. I get a headache thinking about my change falling all over the floor. All I keep thinking is, why make it so difficult to tip?

Lessons from tipping

There’re business lessons here to be sure. The most obvious being, when working with clients, make it easy for them to pay you. Don’t ask them to jump through hoops to settle a bill. That goes just as well for complicated costs and itemization. Keep your invoices as simple as possible, so it’s clear later on what it covers; the amount and the period. Do they like to pay by ACH or Wire, make that easy as well. Would they rather pay by Paypal? Perhaps have a carrier pigeon with a check? No problem!

This lesson might also be applied to add-on features and services. In many cases a client may require additional time or service from you. Does this involve a lot of approvals or details to be hashed over? Or is it already covered in your base contract so you both know what qualifies and how it will be billed? If you are in the design business, what’s the cost of an additional design version or proof? Web operations, what’s the cost of adding in another on-site day or weekend block of time?

We may not realize it but sometimes we fumble in the process of acquiring new business too. Recently I was looking to hire a web developer for a website facelift project. I liked the work of one of the applicants and tried to arrange for a quick chat over Skype. To my surprise they said they couldn’t get on Skype because they didn’t have an account. Granted they did offer to call me on my mobile but I’d also wanted to set up a three-way conference call. As a prospective client, I was amused at having to make the suggestion that they register for Skype in order to arrange the call. Someone more on the ball would’ve just said OK, and sign up for Skype right away.

Ultimately the lesson is to think in your customers’ shoes make it easy for your client to reward you when they’re happy with your service, and want to buy more of what you are selling.