A Few Tips on Tipping

Tipping can be a controversial topic. While most of us in the service industry consider the practice completely commonplace, some feel that it is not their responsibility to “pay” or “supplement” someone’s wages because it should be the employer’s obligation.  In fact, many foreign countries tipping where tipping is not expected and is even considered rude.

While some states are passing legislation that will require all employers to pay tipped employees either minimum wage or at least an increased salary, it’s safe to say that most of us will still be tipping well into the future.  For those who struggle with the practice, below are a few loose guidelines that answer three of the biggest questions in regard to tipping.

Is tipping mandatory?

Tips are not mandatory in the United States but are expected.  One of the biggest mistakes that people tend to make when they tip is assuming that tips are only necessary when they receive superior service. Tips are part of many hourly workers regular compensation. Servers, bartenders, bussers, hostesses all make below minimum wage in most states and count on tips to get up to minimum wage.

How much should I tip a restaurant server?

In fast casual environments, the tip varies depending the amount of service required. For example, if you order a plain drip coffee from a barista then the coin change from the interaction is fine to drop into the jar along with a polite “thank you”. If you are in a bar and order only drinks and no food, it is perfectly acceptable to leave $1 – $2 per drink. However, when you place a large order for takeout from a casual restaurant where a person assembled the food, bagged it along with condiments and utensils, then walked it out to your car, then about 10% is more appropriate.

In a full-service restaurant, most people tip between 10 – 20% of the pre-tax amount of the bill. So, offering 15% should be the standard for good service. But as a company full of restaurant peeps, where most of us have worked as a hostess, server, or bartender, we usually tend to tip 20% for good service and more for great service. We know how hard service industry employees work and really appreciate those who go above and beyond.

In summary, a good rule of thumb to determine the amount to tip is:

  • 15% means the person did their job at least as expected.
  • Below 15% is fine in cases where you felt ignored or received really poor service such as a bad attitude.
  • More than 15% should be left for the superstars who made your dining experience far better than you expected.

Do tipping practices vary by profession?

Many service-oriented industries use the same tipping guidelines as outlines that is used for restaurant servers.  Hairdressers, massage therapist, manicurist, drivers, etc. should be tipped along the same 10%, 15%, and 20% guidelines outlined above. In any situation, the best way to determine which of these amounts is appropriate in any profession is to consider the amount of work involved from the employee for the service received and how that person made you feel as a customer.

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