Concierge Confidential on Tipping

Palming twenty bucks (a.k.a. tipping) can get you a lot in NYC, but you have to know when to give it; how to give it and to whom. I know because as a Concierge, I have received tips and I use tipping as a means to get what I need for my clients. It’s a luxury problem, but nonetheless, it’s an issue we must confront.

Here are a few basics for the tippers who have a twenty on the ready…

HOLD IT: Don’t pass a twenty while you are asking for something. Wait until you have stated the case of what you want. If you get to the point and ask in a respectful way, I can guarantee that the answer will be something like, “let me see what I can do.” This is the tipping point (sorry for the pun) because your tip will turn the “let’s see…” into a “yes.”

FOLD IT: I’m a fan of the quarter folded bill. It’s obvious, but still classy as long as you are subtle in how you hand it over. Palming (folding it in eighths and passing it in a handshake) feels a tiny bit dirty, and not many people are that good at it so it gets a little clumsy and awkward.

SAY IT: Don’t make this uncomfortable for either of you. The best words to accompany your tip are “please don’t be offended, it’s just a little gesture to thank you in advance.” If nothing can be done, I guarantee the person will not accept the tip. If they accept it, it’s because they can do something.

And now, a word to my people…the tippees: Tips are not drying up as depicted in the New York Times piece ”Victims of the Tight-Fisted” (March 27, 2012).  What seems to be drying up is our sense of ownership over our role in service. Here’s a refresher course on the most basic fundamental of service. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER! If we want to make better tips (a.k.a. more revenue), we need to think like any other business person and step up our game plan to please our customer. Do we really think the economy is to blame for declining tips in a city like New York? In my opinion,  the biggest negative impact on our tips has come from complacent service and the unfair expectation that tips are “extra” cash that people have floating around their wallets in fat times that is somehow owed to us. Let’s get out there and jump through hoops. I guarantee, the tips will come!

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that non-tippers take the adrenaline out of the rush I get serving people, and even though I would never think of defaming one of these buzz-kills, one might find 15% on my internet search history. I feel so dirty.

To learn about my company, visit Abigail Michaels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Tommy Ton

Two stunning model types were standing in front of Club Monaco on Fifth Avenue and 21st Street tonight. There were clipboards involved and a propensity to avoid eye contact.

OK, it’s not like I’m bragging because I was granted entry to an invitation only private party to launch the new line at Club Monaco. It’s just that I’m reminding you that velvet ropes are just one more example of what many of us experience as a barrier; a gate; an obstacle. Obstacle? What obstacle!

Velvet ropes are props. Clip boards are props. The people controlling them are human!

Step One:
Be human. Don’t get defensive and insulted that you weren’t invited

Step Two:
Ask what’s going on. If you’re enthusiastic about it, I assure you they will share the info.

Step Three:
Ask if you can get in!

End of story… the event was to launch two unisex bags (attache meets man purse) designed by Tommy Ton, the talented eye behind the photo blog Jak and Jil, is on the favorites bar of tons of people, all of whom are cuter, hipper and younger than I.  And because I asked to get in, I enjoyed mingling with a group of amazing fashion bloggers and style influencers. They helped me pick out a few shirts, but more importantly, they told me who Tommy Ton is! I love Messy Nessy’s simple description.

Thanks to Step Three (above), I’m more in the know and I have two really cool shirts…approved by people who were on the list. I also had a lovely cocktail, tuna tartar canapes and mingled with super attractive people who thought I was “fun.”

 

Daylight Savings Time – I want my hour back!

In my business of Concierge-ing, the slightest “event” can trigger a flood of calls, and I always want to be on the ready. In anticipation of everyone feeling short changed of the hour we “lose” with Daylight Savings Time, I thought I would take the sting away by having a few recommendations for how we can take back some of that hour we begrudgingly lose when we move that clock ahead. Just go with it.

THANK YOU CARDS (that you don’t have to write)  Thanks for everything (from $4.95)

When I was 22, I sent flowers to Barry Manilow (I scored his address from a real estate agent). He never acknowledged my kind gesture.

Could it be because he didn’t know about THANKSFOREVERYTHING.NET? This is a thank you card service that is NOT an e-card. Yes, just like the old fashioned thank you card that comes in the mail (the one I never received from Barry). The price is the same as any other card you might pick up at a stationary store, so it’s well worth looking into thanksforeverything.net if you want to maintain your Social Qs.

 

KIDS, MOMMIE HAS TIME FOR CRAFTS NOW…even if she’s not crafty ($19.95)

Step up from noodle jewelry and step into a beautifully organized and magnificently easy craft project for your    kids. KIWICRATE.COM is to crafts what Dunkin Hines is to baking. The time consuming part is already done. KIWICRATE.COM comes up with the great ideas, and they put all the ingredients together for you in a cute little “crate” so you don’t have to spend your time hopping from the art supply store to the craft store. The best part is that the craft box is delivered in your child’s name, and what child doesn’t love getting something fun in the mail!

 

RAVI WINE CHILLER (39.99)

The Chinese delivery is about to arrive and there’s no wine! Imagine the drama of running down to the neighborhood wine store to find that they don’t have a chilled bottle of your favorite.Now imagine that you can avoid the 2 hour average it takes to chill a bottle.  RAVI INSTANT CHILLER is the perfect solution to get instantly chilled wine. All you have to do is remember to keep your Ravi in freezer and ready for the insta-chill it delvers

 

WHO NEEDS 8 MINUTE ABS WHEN YOU CAN REACH ZEN IN 10 MINUTES?  ($19.95)

Deepak Chopra’s CD “THE SECRET OF HEALING” contains 20 guided meditations, all of which are less than 10 minutes long. Don’t laugh, if you really give this a try, you will see that 10 minutes makes an impact. It’s like a quick re-set button for your cluttered mind.  Not to worry if you’re not ready to make the full 10 minute commitment. You can head on to YouTube and watch the 5 minute STRESS FREE ZONE.

 

SHOP IT TO ME -SAVE TIME SPENDING MONEY!  A FREE PERSONAL SHOPPING SERVICE.

 Imagine a Barney’s sales reps putting aside clothes for you, giving you the secret sale price and sending a messenger to your door with your new purchases. That’s how many of my clients shop. I like all the same things, but my budget is too small to attract the attention of the A-list sales reps.

The solution for me is SHOPITTOME.COM. This is like having an intuitive personal shopper lightly tap you on the shoulder (that’s a metaphor for send you an email) whenever they come across something on sale in your size and by the designer you like. It’s a pretty brilliant concept because you can customize your profile in a way that keeps you informed only when your “wish list” items are on sale (40%-70%!!!)

UBER TIME SAVER ($7.00 base plus $3.90 per mile / NYC pricing)

Certain Apps come with implied social status and coolness attached and we are all too proud to have their icon blazing on our home screen. I’m discovering that this is the case with UBER.COM. It’s catching on with a cool city crowd who are too cool to wait for a cab, but not quite at the level of having a car and driver. Here’s how it works. You set up an account, and then whenever you need a town car, UBER.COM tracks your location via GPS and posts your requests to their network of approved drivers. Within 15 minutes, your car arrives. No more calling the car service; waiting on hold; booking the reservation and giving your credit card. It’s all done instantly. Thanks UBER!

CLEAR  ($179 per year) 

Daylight Savings weekend special (Fri-Mon),  $25 off your membership  EXTRAHR is the promo code to enter HERE.

The TSA is testing a  program with American Airlines and Delta Airlines in four U.S. airports (Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami) called the Pre Check which means that you can whisk through airport security without taking your shoes off!  But there’s another option called CLEAR that also whisks you through airport security but CLEAR is a private company. They aren’t everywhere, but if you go to their site and find your most travelled airport, you are going to love the ease of this….and the snarky looks you get from all those people that you jumped ahead of is kind of fun too.

ONE HOUR SHAKING HANDS…FIVE FUN HOURS ENTERING BUSINESS CARDS IN ADDRESS BOOK

CARD MUNCH (Free App)

It takes time and energy to network work the room. And what’s the reward? Go home and enter all those names, numbers and emails into your address book. Thanks to LinkedIn, CARDMUNCH.COM makes it possible for you to take a photo of the business cards you collected at that networking event. With the App, they will be automatically loaded into your address book. And the bonus is that LinkedIn will also recognize your six degrees of separation and how you can and/or could be linked.

I DON’T DO LINES…AND DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM???

LINE ROCKET (skip the line $20 and up)

How much time do you waste waiting to get acknowledged by the doorman at a nightclub? Here’s the answer…take cuts AND save money on the cover charge. LINEROCKET.COM is trending in the world of nightlife and they already have more than 150 hot clubs in NYC, L.A. and Las Vegas where you can skip the line to break past the velvet rope

 

Check? Nevermind, I’ll Get it – I don’t have an hour

More time for small talk and posing. Less time waiting to order or to pay the bill.

I love TabbedOut.com, a free app that makes it possible to open your own tab, order drinks and pay from your iPhone. It’s not accepted everywhere yet, but I say it’s time to start asking for it everywhere you go. Naysayers…there was a time when no one thought OpenTable.com would take off. Impress your friends. Be an influencer and not a follower. But most of all, take back every minute you can and stop waiting for the check. Take charge!

Got Another Hour Back – Manpacks.com

Underwear shopping is one of the more tedious chores, not to mention the degradation of navigating through the super narrow maze of displays flaunting overly ripped abs and plumply posed manhood. Fly Front; Contour Pouch; Low Rise; Trunk; Boxer; Boxer Short; Boxer Brief; Sport Brief; No Show; Thong (yeah, no). And why can I never seem to find the same style I bought last time?

Two things I hope to avoid when underwear shopping.

  1. Taking the hour to actually do it.
  2. Politely tolerating assistance from the sales person who I kind of wish would let me figure things out on my own (c’mon, there’s a lot of ego to rebuild in the midst of those vivid box photos).

The solution? MANPACKS.COM. This is a Calvin Klein and Hanes kind of place, so it’s probably not for you if you want the David Beckham special. You create a “pack” (including anything from razors, shaving cream, condoms, socks, undershorts and underwear) and it ships to you within a few days. That’s the only time you have to plan ahead. After that, Manpacks sends a replenishment every 3 months. And how great that they send you an advance reminder before your pack ships just in case you decided that you go commando instead.

 

 

Give Me My Hour Back – Shoeboxed.com = no more receipts

When it comes to receipts, there’s a little bit of George Costanza in all of us. We might not cram them into a bi-fold, but I would wage a bet that there’s not a handbag, briefcase or murse that doesn’t contain a crumpled up wad of receipts and a set of good intentions to organize them.

Enter my first step in more efficiently managing my receipt collection that is leading to faster expense reports which translates to faster reimbursement! Shoeboxed.com is the solution that works for me. You simply set up an account, stuff a Shoeboxed envelope with your messy receipts and ship them off to Shoeboxed. That messy wad of papers becomes an organized e-file and the perfect back up for submitting your expense account. Depending on the plan you select, the price ranges from $9.95 to $49.95 per month. The only down side is that now I have to remember to keep scraps of paper in my murse for when I need to spit out my gum. Yes, in times of need, I was at times desperate enough to sacrifice a taxi receipt for my gum. Afterall…no good New Yorker should EVER spit his or her gum on the street.