How much should you tip your server? What if they are stellar? What if they are terrible? What if they are just OK? What 7 things should you consider when tipping your server?
A topic near and dear to my heart, tipping in the USA. Personally, I began “waitressing” (as it was called back in the day) during college. It has been a skill that has served me well over the years. As a young mom, it fits nicely into a busy schedule. When short on funds, it’s quick cash. And now, it supplements my life with both money and friendships.
The thing is the tips.
It is confusing trying to decide how much to tip your server. Just in case you or your best friend or your father-in-law or whoever don’t understand the nature of the restaurant business, here are 7 things to consider when deciding how much to tip your server.
- Many servers are paid a “Server Wage” not “Minimum Wage”
According to the Federal Labor Standards Act,“Tipped employees are individuals engaged in occupations in which they customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. The employer may consider tips as part of wages, but the employer must pay at least $2.13 an hour in direct wages… If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference. Also, employees must retain all of their tips, except to the extent that they participate in a valid tip pooling or sharing arrangement.”
What this means is that in many states servers do not make the standard hourly minimum wage without their tips. In fact, they are completely dependent upon their tips for income!
- Your tip is shared with others, not only your server.
In most establishments, servers are required to “tip share” or “tip out” other staff such as bartenders and bus people. This can add up to about 5% of your total sales for the evening. These people are totally worth the tip out, but it is a big chunk of the tip total.
- Serving is a Career for many.
Most servers are not college or high school students trying to make their way through school. They are men and women trying to make ends meet and feed their children. It is difficult and physically demanding work and we try to do it with a smile no matter what is happening in the rest of our lives.
- 10% is no longer the norm.
When I first started in college a 10% tip was considered the norm. But just like any other service or commodity in the world, the cost has gone up. A standard tip should be about 18% of your bill.A 10% tip is no longer the norm. A 15-20% tip is the standard. Click To Tweet
- It is not OK to just round up to the nearest $10 increment.
Seriously, if you have a $66 bill for your dinner it is not OK to round up to $70. That is a little like just leaving the change for your server. Please understand, I do not mean to be harsh, but the truth is that on your $66 bill, I will need to tip out approximately $3. After taxes, you have left me about $1 for my hard work serving you for the past 60-90 minutes.
- When you leave a little more than normal, we really appreciate it.
The truth is, servers talk to each other. We LOVE to share with our coworkers the awesome tips you leave us. It matters and we appreciate it more than you can know!
- What to do if you have poor service.Consider the problem. Was your food cold? Ask to get a new plate. Did the kitchen take too long? Ask to speak to a manager. Is the server running around trying to take care of you? Sometimes we are doing the best we can. Be kind. You don’t have to leave an enormous tip, BUT please do not short change your server because the kitchen messed up or the restaurant is short-staffed. Just leave a standard tip and mention the problem to the management. They will make it right.
Do you see now how your tips directly affect the server and his/her livelihood? Your choice is so important each time you go out for dinner so please choose wisely.
- Choose a place where you can afford to eat anything off the menu without worrying about the bill.
- Choose a place where you don’t have to cut back on the tip because you overspent on the meal or the drinks.
- Choose to make 18% your minimum tip and scale it up from there if your service is excellent.
- Choose to bless your server just because you can, not because they deserve it.
- Choose to be kind.
How much to tip your server?
Now you are informed. Go forth and make the right choice! 🙂