No More Carrots – Why We’re Dropping Tips

Coffee Debates

It was a cold day in December, the skies were grey, a steady breeze was blowing the rain at an angle that made one wish they had galoshes. Definitely a day for a meeting outside the office. The owners of Eagle Club Indoor Golf (Michael and Peter) picked up some hot cups of regular coffee straight from the spigot and decided to sit outside under a covered patio to discuss the future of the business. For some reason, the rain just brings about natural breaks in conversations that lead to wandering thoughts. Maybe it’s the rhythmic pitter patter or the distraction of people awkwardly positioned to shield themselves from the rain because they forgot their umbrellas at home? Either way, our minds wandered about and the tip given for our hot cups of joe came up and we started to ask, “Why did we tip for that?”

Getting Poked

A recent visit to Japan came to mind. Tipping is not part of the culture yet we received far better service than some places in the US where we still tip regardless. This led us down a rabbit hole with question after question poking at us on the way down. What are the purpose of tips? Do tips motivate great service? Why would someone provide bad service anyway? Who is responsible for someone’s wages? Does it make sense to tip for golf? At what point does a service break from being a tipping service to not being a tipping service? For instance, a server receives tips, but an airline attendant does not, despite similarities in some of their roles. We got pretty far down the rabbit hole before emerging with a decision to not only drop tipping but also a whole new perspective on our responsibilities as business owners.

No more carrots

From most perspectives, tipping is the carrot to the horse. You provide great service for the hopes of great tips just as a horse chases a carrot in the hopes of eating it. But do we want our employees motivated by a carrot or a purpose?  We decided that we don’t want tips to be the carrot. We don’t want there to be a carrot. We want our employees to provide great service because they want to provide it because we’ve created something that’s in line with their goals, too. We want our employees focused on what we’re trying to build at Eagle Club Indoor Golf and are proud to be a part of it. We went from profit driven to purpose driven, which was a very strong shift in perspective for what it meant to be an owner.

The Cart or the Horse

What’s more important? The cart or the horse? Without the horse, the cart doesn’t move. Yet without the cart, the horse has no purpose. Our new-found perspective is that their equally important. If we take care of our employees by changing the responsibility for their income from the customer to ourselves we can add stability instead of uncertainty for our employees. That is how it should be, right? In terms of the cart, this meant we had to create a cart that was worth pulling. How do we turn a golf business, a stereotypically exclusive and elitist field, into a cart with a purpose? Our minds started kicking into over drive. Sleepless nights ensued, more debates were had, discussions with the employees, more coffee meetings, and, finally, we think we figured it out.

The Community Cart

We came to the realization that it absolutely makes a difference what’s in the cart and what we’re doing with the contents. Our new mission is to not just build the community, but to bring it together. Keep in mind, while this vague and a no-brainer, it was a huge shift in mentality for us to say, “Hey, we shouldn’t focus on our profits, but instead on people.” This epiphany ignited a spark in us all for how we can accomplish this. It’s still early in the process, but you’ll start to see our plan kick into action with the New Year and hopefully start to feel like a part of our community in the best way possible. Who knew a rainy day coffee could shift a business strategy?

By |2017-01-03T14:44:35+00:00January 2nd, 2017|Main Page|2 Comments


  1. […] the first quarter of 2017, we will be accepting donations in lieu of tips (Why we don’t accept tips anymore) and 5% of ALL revenue to the END THE BACKLOG initiative, a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation. […]

  2. DISH SF | Eagle Club Indoor Golf July 26, 2017 at 3:14 PM - Reply

    […] when you visit Eagle Club! We are accepting donations for DISH in lieu of tips (read more on that here) where every dollar adds up (in Q1, customer donations accounted for $5000 of the $10000 we raised […]

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