How to increase your tip (I bet these work for increasing your bonus too).

17% Wearing a Flower in Hair
53% Introducing Self by Name
20% Waiter Squatting Down Next to Table
25% Waitress Squatting Down Next to Table
100% Repeat Order Back to Customer
140% Smiling
23% Suggestive Selling (aka upselling)
42% Touching Customer, Study 1
27% Touching Customer, Study 2
22% Touching Customer, Study 3
28% Touching Customer, Study 4
40% Tell a Joke (to entertain customer)
18% Give a Puzzle (to entertain customer)
18% Forecast Good Weather
13% Writing “Thank You” on Check
Waiter drawing smiley face on Check
18% Waitress drawing smiley face on Check
37% Bartender drawing sun on Check
25% Restaurant, Using Tip Trays w/ Credit Card Insignia
22% Cafe, Using Tip Trays w/ Credit Card Insignia
18% Give Customer Candy, Study 1
21% Give Customer Candy, Study 1
10% Call Customer by Name

Providing great service is not on this list because studies show measures of service quality as reported by customers is not particularly coorolated with the size of the tip left.  Don’t be fooled, tips do not create a feedback loop that improves service.

Tips are an odd epilog to a transaction.  The buyer gives a gift to to the seller, or is it the seller’s agent he gives a gift to?  There are experts out there on every aspect of commercial transactions. The expert on tipping is Michael Lynn a Cornell.  That table is gleaned from his pamphlet  MegaTips.    I read that 21 Billion dollars of tips are given every year in the US.  So a huge proportion of the income at the low end of the income ladder are these gifts.

Like all gift scenarios it’s hard to be sure who’s getting what from the transaction.  But it  appears that the buyers are buying something with their tips, i.e. appear to be buying a relationship with the server. It maybe they are trying to weaken this agent’s  loyalty  to his  employer.  What is clear is that if the buyer is convinced that the server likes them then the buyer will tip well.

I doubt you will be surprised to learn there are efforts to change the “standards” about tipping.  It’s a great example of how many players get involved when ever you try to shaping an exchange standard.  Restaurant  owners and service personel would prefer that the “standard tip” be higher. I was taught as a child that the standard tip is 15%, but the industry is working to let it be known that the standard tip is 15% to 20%. Some dead beat segments of the population known to be lousy tippers.  The industry appears to be working on that.

While owners and servers both want higher tips their solidarity around this part of the transaction falls apart moments later.    Owners would like minimum wage laws to include tips, servers of course don’t.  Recently Rick Santorium tried to stick a clause into the bankruptcy bill to force that change upon states, shortly after getting a big tip from a resturant chain.

I liked this paper that tries to draw connections between attributes of national character and variablity in tipping across nations. The conclusions strike me as tenuous, but they certainly are fun. Anxiety, status seeking, and masculine personality in your nation increases the level of tipping.

Personally I find tipping, and certain kinds of bonuses, to be very corrosive to professionalism.

I’m not aware of any software exchange protocols that include a tip phase. DNS has a way that the server can throw in some free extra answers to questions that he suspects that the client will desire. There must be some senarios where it would be useful for the client to toss in some extra gift as he’s closing the connection.

9 thoughts on “Tipping

  1. Lance Lavandowska

    I hate it when strangers touch me, any server doing this to me could pretty much count on a reduced tip (not that it would be conscious). But then, I also have a large personal space.

  2. Ben Hyde

    Lance – Absolutely. I like to cring and say ‘We don’t touch in New England!”

    Any of the above behaviors is amazingly irritating if they are arn’t authentic. – ben

    ps. I forecast sunny days ahead!

  3. billo

    My pet theory of the restaurant business: the best wait staff are those that appear to be the cool, smart, attractive kids (the ones who would never talk to you), and they act just like they are your pals. The more natural this seems, the better one considers the service.

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  6. Jane Doe

    “Give Customer Candy”

    No, that is from the RESTAURANT. The wait staff didn’t buy that candy. So, this concept has NOTHING to do with tipping.

    “Touching Customer”

    I don’t like when someone I don’t know touches me. That’s just creepy. I agree with the poster that said they didn’t like to be touched.

    “Waiter Squatting Down Next to Table”

    Makes the waiter or waitress look TIRED and LAZY. Not very professional looking if you ask me.

    “Wearing a Flower in Hair”

    I could care less if the waitress is wearing a flower in her hair. If she gave me bad service, she’ll receive a bad tip whether or not she has a flower in her hair or not.

    “Introducing Self by Name”

    I could care less what their name is until the experience is over when I see it on the receipt. That makes me want to tip less for DELAYING MY ORDER.

    “Restaurant, Using Tip Trays w/ Credit Card Insignia”

    That’s the restauant’s policy more than likely. This has NOTHING to do with the service, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    “Writing “Thank You” on Check
    Waiter drawing smiley face on Check”

    I could care less if someone does this. This still has NOTHING to do with the service.

    “Tell a Joke (to entertain customer)”

    The tip goes WAY DOWN if that server DELAYS my food from starting cooking or my drinks from coming to my table. That makes me want to STIFF the person for delaying my food to play around. You have a job, DO IT, I feel.

    “Give a Puzzle (to entertain customer)”

    I don’t want that or care about it. Has nothing to do with the service. If the server has to WASTE my time to explain the puzzle to me when I’m ready to leave, their tip WILL go down.

    “Suggestive Selling (aka upselling)”

    As long as it’s NOT pushy. If I say “NO”, then don’t ask me again. If the server does, their tip will go down for not respecting what I want. I am the customer, so if I don’t want a certain food, I don’t want it.

    “Repeat Order Back to Customer”

    Agree with this 100%. This way the order will HOPEFULLY come out CORRECT. I am ALL for this concept, very much so.

    “Call Customer by Name”

    I am not comfortable with them knowing my name if I don’t know them. It won’t count off for the tip, because it has NOTHING to do with the service.

    “Forecast Good Weather”

    Sure I may be in a better mood when it’s sunny, but even if it’s a pretty sunny day, if my order is TOTALLY wrong, I will still stiff if I don’t get an apology or if I get an apology, the tip WILL be lowered, GUARANTEED!


    Doesn’t make me tip more or less. It is MUCH MORE pleasant though to see someone smiling, OF COURSE.

  7. server with a smile

    I would just like to comment that in TRAINING for some jobs, you are told to squat at table, call customer by name , and many of the other things mentioned above. I agree at all times one should be professional and not act as if the customer is their friend unless of course they are and then one should always maintain professionalism. Thanks for reading and happy tipping. Try doing the job yourself and see why a server does appreciate the true meaning of tips. To Insure Proper Service. Thanks again.

  8. Julien Couvreur

    Now, the question is: how customers can affect the waiters’ behavior and satisfaction (and get away with a smaller tip)?

    Is a waiter more satisfied with $2.01 than $2.00 of tip (or $1.99)?
    Would a smiley on the merchant receipt make a difference?
    And so on…

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