A Tip On Tipping

We were at a restaurant when the subject of tipping came up. i.e., How much, why, and so forth. I was quite struck with some of the answers and the reasoning behind them. So much so I was compelled to offer my views where if one were in doubt, one could follow these guidelines where you’d never feel or, allowed to appear “cheap.”

First: Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and such work for tips. Their pay is based on a low set wage, while having the ability to increase those wages by earning tips, from you, as a performance based wage. They know that going in (as in taking the job) as well as anyone that considers themselves an adult knows this also (as in anyone going out to eat or drink). Leaving no tip under the guise of, “I don’t tip – they already get paid.” is an excuse to hide the fact either you’re just cheap or, you have never had the social dining or other public etiquette explained properly. Sorry if I offend anyone but, it’s the truth.

A tip of 15% has become the accepted norm. What does this really mean? Well I use this as a judgement: If the person has done their job in an acceptable manner, acceptable being just that, polite, maybe an occasional smile, tried to get your request done properly (as in you knew they were at least trying), a 15% tip should be left without hesitation. That fulfills a basic (though unspoken) understood social etiquette.

Never deduct for something uncontrolled by the server. (poorly cooked food, etc.) It’s not their fault. Many times there is no way even they can tell if somethings wrong till after it has been cut into or tasted.

If you’ve been served in an acceptable manner and the person shows they are going above and beyond you go up from there. Great smile, brings bread, wine, or tops off something without asking or bothering you during discussions or dining – you move up to 20-25%. Again, without hesitation. Over that is totally a judgement call. If you were served by someone who belongs in the “Hall of Fame” category, leave what makes you happy. Then tell all your friends to go there and request “them.” That is worth far more than any single tip.

If you’re going out on a 2 for 1 type special, as to try a new venue or something other, use the savings to increase the tip. Don’t use the now low total of the check to run your % calculation. Why? Because when you’re doing this, you’re really taking advantage of that server. They are still doing as much work as before only now they are getting squeezed.

Here’s a simple formula you should employ:
Let’s say you get a 2 for 1 special. If each plate was valued at $10.00 then normally your bill would be $20.00 plus a 15% gratuity equaling $3.00 for a total of $23.00. What you should do when the bill arrives is pay the $10.00 for the 2 for 1 however, split the cost savings of the free plate in half and leave that for the server.i.e., Instead of a $3.00 you would now leave $5.00 for a total cost of $15.00 saving you $8.00 off the original yet increasing your tip to the server by nearly 40%. Why would you do that you ask? Well…

When anyplace runs a special like that usually, it does exactly what the establishment wanted. It gets more people in yet the servers work just as hard if not harder in handling the increase in traffic. If the person serving me has done an adequate job or better I use the savings I’m benefiting from and compensate them a little more. It turns out in the end to be a win-win because, there is nothing worse than going into a place that accepts a coupon for anything and having an over worked server that knows they’re working twice as hard for half the tips because people are tipping based on the $10.00 check other than the $20.00 of value they received. i.e. a 15% tip that now equals $1.50.

Just don’t be miserly in your thinking when it comes to tipping. Believe it or not it hinders your own self-worth. Get away from a poverty mindset and think in terms of affluence. If you feel the need you have to break out a calculator to figure out what to tip you’re not thinking squarely. When in doubt leave extra. You’ll feel better about yourself, because after all…

Isn’t that why you treated yourself out in the first place?

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr