The Fine Art of Tipping Your Server

Okay, so you have just enjoyed a most sumptuous feast at your favorite restaurant, engaged in some good conversation with your guests, and now the moment of truth has arrived, in the form of the check the server drops on your table.

The price of the meal always manages to amaze us to a degree, but it’s made even worse by the fact that you know you have to add to it before you finally write your name on the bottom. I’m speaking, of course, of the tip.

For those that have been living under a rock since the rise of modern civilization, the tip at a restaurant is the amount of money you give to your server as reward for their taking care of your needs during the course of your meal. This can mean a sizeable sum of money in the event of good service, or next to nothing as a consequence of bad and/or no service, but typically a decent tip falls around 15% of the amount of the check.

Now I get chastised regularly from my mother when we go out to eat because I tip well, in the 20% range, simply because I believe in rewarding good service and I realize how difficult a job waiting tables can be. I believe in good tipping, though, because these folks make most of their pay from tips and will generally do their best to earn it.

While it is generally advised to never give less than 10% for a tip, there are other factors to consider. If service is slow or your order is wrong, stop to consider how busy the restaurant is and how many other tables your server is working. I am far more inclined to cut them some slack if the place is packed, but if it is during off hours, I’m the server’s only table, and my order is still wrong or if I have to sit through two Musak numbers waiting for my drink to be refilled, then the size of my tip starts steadily shrinking. I’m not averse to leaving a really bad tip, as it sends a very clear message, but the better course to take would be to speak to the restaurant manager about the service received. On certain occasions I’ve gotten free desserts and even had entire bills waived. Of course these are rare instances, and you should never be predisposed to tip badly or cause your server trouble.

Keep in mind that while some elements may be out of your server’s control, there is never excuse for rude or outright neglectful. Such behavior should be properly rewarded.

Of course, when tipping your server, you want to look at all the variables, not only the food, but the speed of service, overall pricing, quality of the environment, etc. A good list of variables include:

How the food matched with your order,

Whether the food was hot and fresh from the kitchen,

How attentive the server was to your needs,

How quickly your empty dishes were taken away,

How quickly it took to get your check and have your payment processed, and

Whether the server\’s demeanor was courteous and professional.

I once had a server imitate my rather pronounced southern accent when I gave my order in a Savannah GA restaurant. I tried to blow it off as nothing because I know my accent is a little severe. After a bit however, it got to the point where I was bothered. Nobody’s character traits should be made fun of any more than you would make fun of physical attributes. I called the restaurant manager back the next day to suggest that this server might want to rethink how she interacts with patrons. For some odd reason, however, I left her a pretty good gratuity.

If there is a problem, even a major one, you also want to take into consideration how diligently your server works to correct it. I had a server spill a drink in my lap one evening, mumble something about going to get some towels, only to never be heard from again. One of the rare instances where I left no tip whatsoever.

Always stop to consider, or even ask, if your server is new to the job. If they are, it can usually make for a pleasant evening for all. And by that I do not mean needless abuse or having fun at the expense of the poor guy (or girl). If you let them know the pressure is off, that you understand, and that you are willing to roll with it, chances are they will relax as well and in all likelihood make far fewer mistakes.

There are numerous formulas out there for computing tips. I tend to make it easy on myself and tip $1 for every $5, which is 20%. Of course that can be adjusted based on certain mitigating circumstances, but I find it to be a healthy and generous manner. Of course exceptional service merits more. I now have specific servers that I go to at various restaurants that I frequent, because I know I can expect good service and I don’t mind giving them something extra.

Also, remember to pay your tip in cash whenever possible, and do your best to put the tip in the server’s hand. It is not uncommon for busboys or even other servers to steal tips from their coworkers. Paying tip with credit card is fine, but some restaurant will subtract the cost of the credit card fee from the tip, which ends up robbing your server. If any of this is a concern to you, put the tip in their hand with a smile and a ‘thank you’.

Basic rule of thumb: always be more than generous unless the server goes out of their way to give you bad service. It’s a formula that can’t lose.

Author Bio: Darrell is Director Of Content for LeadsByFone, a lead generation company servicing the basement flooding and water damage restoration industry.

Category: Advice
Keywords: tip, tipping, restaurant, server, waiter, waitress, meal, gratuity

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