Aleks Stepanovich had worked in the restaurant industry for years—from server to manager to an operator—and saw firsthand the hassles that came from distributing tips fairly and reporting them accurately. So last year, Stepanovich, who also has a background in computer science and spent time with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, formed Gratuity Solutions.
The company’s GratSync software distributes and manages tips for a restaurant’s employees, enabling the restaurant to comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act and eliminating the need for daily manual calculations.
The cloud-based software system calculates tip distribution through direct integration with the restaurant’s POS system, automating the calculation, allocation, and proper tip distribution in accordance with the operation’s specific tip distribution policy.
Early adopters of the software include José Andrés’ ThinkFood Group as well as independent restaurants and small chains.
Chris Tracy, president of the Chef Geoff group in Washington, D.C., and president of the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Association, says his restaurants began using Gratuity Solutions in December and it has greatly improved the tip-out system.
“Every restaurant’s tip-out system is different. … But typically at the end of the night, the servers collect the money, and most dole out to support staff—runners, bussers, and some to the hostess. Those calculations are based on various things,” he says.
“This was a way to automate the process, be fair, and make the process simpler.”
In addition, Tracy says the system ensures that employees declare accurate tips, something the IRS has cracked down on recently.
Stepanovich adds that with GratSync, restaurant employers can immediately withhold a specific percentage of a tipped employee’s income to avoid running afoul of minimum-wage guidelines and enable an employee’s periodic contribution toward healthcare insurance obligation.