How to Tip a Valet (The Correct Answer)
First, to put this article into context: The Following is how to tip a valet at a restaurant, most of the google search results are for Valets at hotels and suggest between $1-3 dollars. This article will illustrate the difference.
You should be tipping your valet at a restaurant around $5 dollars. While valets at hotels typically get the same amenities provided as other hotel staff, restaurant valets get no breaks, less than minimum wage, split their tips, and do not typically have lobbies or awnings to protect them from harsh weather.
Let's assume that most valet companies at restaurants charge between $14-18 dollars. Most customers will pay with a $20 dollar bill, but more than half will ask for change? Why?
If the valet charge is $14-15 dollars: If you ask for change you'll probably give them the change back on the way out, a $5-6 dollar tip.
If the valet charge is $16-18 dollars: Asking for change in this case doesn't make a lot of sense, you still need to tip on the way out to reach the recommended $5, handing them a $20 dollar bill on the way in and a few dollars on the way out is good practice - the valets will treat your car well because you have already tipped, but in the hopes you will tip more they will minimize your wait and return your car to you promptly.
Special Considerations: When you ask a valet to leave your car up front, you are asking a lot. With a car in the valet zone there is less room to effectively deal with the other customers' cars; it can even be against the companies rules. To leave your car up front you should tip on your way in at least $10, but preferably double the cost of the valet charge.
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