Working in the service industry means facing a lot of unpredictability. From the hours, to the wages, to the combination of workers on any given night, learning to roll with the punches is a necessity in the kitchen and out on the floor. Stephanie Dooley and Ashley Hedland, long-time service-industry workers and co-founders of the new Pittsburgh-based company Tipped Off, hope to provide a little more predictability for employees and employers.
“Tipped Off is a web-based community and hiring platform for the restaurant industry,” says Hedland. “We hope to streamline the hiring process for restaurant managers and owners while empowering employees to find their best fit. We hope people will become happier in their jobs and give better service.” After years of experience in the service industry, in both serving and management, Dooley and Hedland recognize that when people are happy in their jobs, the customer service improves. “Customers notice that. They notice that everyone is happy. It’s a reason to come back,” says Dooley.
The platform is based on peer reviews from full-time and part-time servers and bartenders in restaurants across the city. It can be difficult for service-industry employees to get realistic information about wages and hours before taking a job. Reviews offer some transparency. Each peer reviewer is asked to answer a series of questions about benefits, working hours, wages, tipping and more. A free space is provided for additional comments. Those looking for jobs have free access to these reviews and will be able to build a personal profile highlighting their skills and attach résumés.
Employers can pay for a subscription to the website in order build a profile, post jobs, and allow hiring managers to receive applications and filter applicants. “This is not Yelp for employees,” says Dooley, noting that if a restaurant garners a negative review, they will have the opportunity to respond on the platform and discuss potential policy changes. “In the meantime, we’ll be learning a lot about what keeps employees around, so eventually we’ll be able to help owners and managers learn what are the best ways to keep employees around and happy,” says Dooley. Providing potential hires with on-the-ground knowledge of workplaces is meant to reduce turnover, helping both the employee and employer have a more stable and satisfying work environment.
The idea for Tipped Off was born out of Dooley’s years working in competitive New York City restaurants. When she returned to Pittsburgh and started serving, she met Hedland and, recognizing her similar experience, goals and frustrations with the industry, quickly brought her onboard.
The company is in its nascent stage, and the focus is currently on cumulating peer reviews. Meanwhile, Dooley and Hedland are getting the word out to the restaurant industry by hosting dinners, roundtables and events. They plan to launch a fully operational Tipped Off in early 2018.