Whenever you eat out at a sit down restaurant, you will eventually ask yourself this question: How much do I tip the waiter or waitress?
The easy answer is 15-20% or more. If you always tip the same, just figure out this number. I usually think of it this way to start at twenty percent. $10=$2, 20=4, 30=6, etc. Then from there I can adjust it up or down a bit depending on service, the change I have and so on.
Photo by flickr's jaroslavd
Remember that the money isn't going to just the waiter. He or she usually splits the tips with the rest of the team. This includes the bus-boy, bread-server, person who pours the water, etc.
If I know I'm coming back to a restaurant, I may tip a little better than if I know that I never will. If I know I'm going to eat there again on my visit or business trip, I'll tip higher in the hopes of better service the next time. If ordering drinks, tip higher on the very first one. I know, you probably are thinking of tipping on the whole bill at the end of the night. Here is why I like to tip something at the start of the evening. You'll get better service the rest of the night. This could include better drinks, more generous drinks or even free drinks. I have often bought a soda for a dollar or two and tipped the same amount on top of it and then got free refills the rest of the night. And when I just pay for the soda, thinking it's a just cheap drink, I wind up paying again (if I can get their attention) and again.
Even if service is less than great, I don't want to stiff someone and come back the next morning and have them handle my food again.
This fee also applies for Room Service although the prices and service charges are usually so outrageous that I'm never happy tipping them.
Watch out for family and friends. This happens so often and you may not realize it. I have visitors in town so I take them to a place I like and go to regularly. They may offer to pay or leave the tip. Either way, follow up and look to see what they are leaving. So often, they are leaving next to nothing. Or they are distracted and don't even leave anything at all. They don't live here and aren't coming back so why should they care? Or they are just cheaper than you are to your regular servers. Make sure they leave enough, add to it when they aren't looking or run back in after they left the table area.
Photo by Irina Slutsky
Watch your money. With all that being said, I try to make sure the tip gets in the hand of the server and not left on the table when it's more than a few dollars. One reason is that they know you left a decent tip and another reason is that a five or ten dollar bill looks good sitting on a table to other people in today's world. It's never happened until recent times but I've noticed other people watching me lay cash on the table and obviously so. This makes me want to make sure it gets into the right hands even more so.
You can find my complete guide to tipping here .
How about you? What do you tip and how to you decide what amount? What is your worst service story? Feel free to name the place.
Adam | April 19, 2009