$8 dollars in Change…How to Provide It

Posted on March 13, 2012

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Recently I wrote a post about the importance of giving exact change.  In that piece, I described how a server could be giving away money by not providing the guest with coin change, should they be rounding off to the nearest dollar and not giving exact change.

There is another nuance of giving change that experienced waitstaff know about, new people might not, and is usually not mentioned in training.  What do you do when someone is paying cash, needs change and the change increments end up being $6, $7 or 8$.  How do you give it?  Do you give them a five and the rest in singles?  Or do you give them all singles?  What is the best practice?

For these dollar increments, the server MUST give all singles as change.  Let’s say the change is $8.  You give them a $5 dollar bill and 3 singles.  What if they want to leave you a four dollar tip?  They can’t.  They may give you three.  Why lose a dollar?  If you give them all singles, they can give you the desired $4 tip.

Worse off, consider $6 in change.  Giving them a $5 dollar bill and a $1 is not appropriate change.  You are giving them two options and nothing in between. And don’t expect them to give you the bigger piece of the pie.  They will not.

Therefore, the best practice for providing change is to provide singles for any amount $1 through $8.  Once the increment hits $9 or more, then provide other dollar increments.  Always provide change in a guest friendly manner for the sake of the guest and the sake of your tip.

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