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To Insure Proper Service

Updated on April 5, 2011

Music is softly floating in the background, people are chattering quietly around you and the sound of clinking forks and knives surrounds you; A perfect restaurant scene. The end of the meal comes, after you are pleasantly full, and the bill is placed on the table. You glance at the check and wonder how much you should tip. A percentage? A specific dollar amount? Do you give based on how good the service was?


What Is Acceptable?

Some restaurants, depending how many people are in your party, add the gratuity for you. The added tip usually ranges from 15- to 20- percent or more, depending on the place.

“A good tip is one that is 20-percent or more because we only get paid $2.13 an hour and solely rely on our tips for income,” says New Jersey Applebees’ server, Allison Olcott.

Consumer Alex Emr sticks to the 15- to 20- percent range.

“A good tip is at least 15-percent,” says Emr. “I usually give about 18-percent. I'm a struggling student, but they're usually struggling too. I try to keep that in mind.”

In fact, most servers take home less than what you tip them. Since there are a lot of components to a restaurant most servers tip-out a percentage to bartenders, hosts, bus people and food runners. Everyone gets a piece of the pie.

Servers also make less than minimum wage per hour in most states, ranging from about two to about four dollars an hour. This means that how much money a server pulls in is all based on tips. A person who is trying to support themselves solely on their serving job can have a difficult time trying to make ends meet. Just one bad storm, one holiday weekend or one gorgeous day that urges people to barbeque outside can wreak devastation on that servers’ survival.

“When the weather is rainy or snowing less people leave their houses and when the weather is sunny and beautiful people want to stay outside or go to the beach,” says Olcott. For her less people means less money, making it harder to earn a living.


What Is Good Service?

Good service can be defined in many different ways, but most people enjoy their dining experience when they have their drinks refilled in a timely manner, have anything they need to be able to enjoy their meal and are greeted by a smile and friendly personality.

“When I go out to a restaurant I expect my server to get the order right, be down to earth, and be generally happy,” says Emr.

Restaurant visitor Jessica Tanney also thinks it is important for a server to have a good attitude.

“I would give a bad tip to a server if they seemed annoyed by the fact that I may be asking them to do their job or if the server is miserable,” says Tanney. “This generally downgrades the entire meal.”

However, servers are people too and people make mistakes. Waiters and waitresses are pulled in a lot of different directions and sometimes it's easy for things to go wrong or easy for that person to momentarily forget your drink refill.

“If the server forgets what I asked for, I'd rather he or she come back and clarify with me because everybody makes mistakes,” says Emr. “I would rather have that than have him or her put in the wrong order.”

Restaurant service involves multiple people where mixed messages can occur; have you ever played the telephone game? It is something like that.

“If a server screws everything up and is genuinely sorry, I will still tip them normally,” says Emr.


To Insure Proper Service

Tips, To Insure Proper Service, motivate waiters and waitress to serve their customers in more than an excellent manner. Servers always remember the customers that tip well and the ones that don’t. So next time you are enjoying that serene restaurant scene with friends, co-workers or family members remember to insure your proper service by taking care of your server; they will appreciate it and return the favor. You will find your tips will enhance and enlighten your dining experience and help boost your overall mood.


What do you tip?

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    • Kimberly Turner profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Quevedo 

      8 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks for the comments!

      I agree anything involving money can be a touchy subject, but tipping is something that people should be aware of. Sometimes I won't go out to eat if I can't afford to tip either... but I know a lot of people that go out with a budget and forget to incorporate tip into that budget. Restaurants in Europe pay servers a flat rate and I think that is very helpful to them (and also why foreigners don't think to tip in American restaurants).

      However, for America, I don't think minimum wage would suffice as payment — there is so much work and long hours that go into a serving job. So to have pay at a minimum would make service a minimum. The reason that things work so well the way it is because servers care for their customers in hopes of a good tip.

      Now I don't think a flat rate is a bad idea, I just don't think that it should be minimum wage. Relying on tips is tough because you never know when you are going to have a $10 5- hour lunch shift or a $100 5-hour lunch shift. The business is so fickle and to have a flat rate can help even things out.

    • profile image

      Terri 

      8 years ago

      Tipping is always a sore subject to discuss. I'm not ashamed to say that I never go out to eat because I can't afford to tip people. Sometimes I wish the restaurants would just pay waiters and waitresses at least minimum wage. But then I feel like waiter and waitresses would prefer for that not to happen because I know people who make way more depending on tips than they would if if they just got bad minimum wage.

    • profile image

      Arlene 

      9 years ago

      Just wanted to comment to Springs...you've never worked in a restaurant before, have you? It's quite obvious! Saying that vegetables instead of fries on the plate is NEVER the kotchen's fault is ridiculous.

      I think you should be a server for a few months and them return to what you've said ;).

    • Kimberly Turner profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Quevedo 

      10 years ago from New Jersey

      sueroy333 I am glad you enjoyed the article!

    • sueroy333 profile image

      Susan Mills 

      10 years ago from Indiana

      Being a server is a difficult, but rewarding job.

      I"m glad you pointed out that, without tips, the average server is paid below minimum wage. I believe everyone should have to be a server for 2 weeks, the tips would be so much better for everyone! :O)

      Nice article! Voted up and useful!

    • Kimberly Turner profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Quevedo 

      10 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you for your comments! As being consumer myself, I understand how you feel, especially since I am an impatient person. However sometimes a server won't write down things because they don't have enough hands or time to do so. Then if they are interrupted five times along the way to go put the order in the computer by five different tables all wanting something from them they may have forgot one simple thing and went back to clarify. Personally I agree with Alex Emr, I rather get my food right when it is delivered to me rather than have a server be afraid to come back and ask me again. You may have indeed had a server that was bad, however a little understanding does go a long way. Sometimes its hard to remember things even if you do write it down. The server could have been writing so fast now they can't read the writing. If they are not apologetic about it or don't get it right away after you have to remind them, then they are a bad server. It is true you shouldn't have to remind them, but sometimes things happen and trying to step in their shoes will help you enjoy your next dinner outing better.

      Also sometimes it is the kitchen's fault for bringing out vegetable instead of fries or something like that, since the kitchen has so many orders coming in for the entire restaurant things can get mixed up. Now it is the server's job to correct those mistakes before the food hits the table, but sometimes that is hard if someone else runs the food. If that happens the server should be there within at least two bites to correct it. It could have also been due to a bad server's mistake.

      As for you last comment on a server with a bad attitude... this is true... this person should have not said that and they are bad. That is appalling!

      Thanks again for your comments!

    • profile image

      Springs1 

      10 years ago

      “When I go out to a restaurant I expect my server to get the order right, be down to earth, and be generally happy,” says Emr."

      The problem is, a lot of servers think we OWE them instead of the tip being EARNED!!

      This isn't McDonald's, so you are supposed to *CARE* about WHAT you are bringing out as far as things you don't have to touch the food to notice the mistake or mistakes. MOST servers DON'T CARE about *WHAT* they bring you as far as obvious errors are concerned and don't even apologize no matter how nice you are about the mistake, even saying "Thank you" to them for fixing a mistake even.

    • profile image

      Springs1 

      10 years ago

      "A good tip is at least 15-percent,” says Emr. “I usually give about 18-percent. I'm a struggling student, but they're usually struggling too. I try to keep that in mind.”"

      No a good tip is 20% or more, sorry!!!

      It doesn't matter if they are a struggling student or not. It matters if they are willing to WORK and PUT FORTH EFFORT into their job. I don't care what their financial situation is since they don't care about mine. Caring is a 2-way street, not a 1-way street.

      If you are lazy, then you deserve a lazy tip. If you are a hard worker, you deserve 20% OR MORE.

    • profile image

      Springs1 

      10 years ago

      "“If a server screws everything up and is genuinely sorry, I will still tip them normally,” says Emr."

      That's why they have bad service then. NO punishment. It's called positive and negative reinforcement.

      If they messed up everything, but only apologized, 10% would be the MOST I would give. If they would say they were SO sorry and got something comped off the bill(meaning NOT ME asking the manager if it was their fault), they would get 18%-20%. So it's up to the server. You don't make-up for your mistakes with money, why should you get a lot of my money? My money is just important as the server's money.

      If you messed up everything and all I hear is one sorry, you won't get much, maybe not even 10%. If you don't say you are sorry at all, you will get stiffed or a 5% tip or so.

    • profile image

      Springs1 

      10 years ago

      “If the server forgets what I asked for, I'd rather he or she come back and clarify with me because everybody makes mistakes,” says Emr. “I would rather have that than have him or her put in the wrong order.”

      If the server didn't write it down, they already got points off if they had to come back to ask for something. That shows how LAZY they really are.

      I don't feel it's good service to have to come back, unless it is something they can't control such as they just found out they are out of something or they can't make that item that way. If it's just because you didn't get it the first time around, that's is NOT good service.

      I would rather them get it right, but to interrupt me is the part I would take off for due to them not being responsible servers to have REPEATED my order verbatim to me BEFORE they left the table and if they had any questions, they should have asked me those when they were taking my order, NOT come back to ask.

      Sorry, but yeah I agree I would rather them get my order right, but they should NEVER have to come back to your table unless it is something they can't control like they just found out they were out of something or couldn't make that item.

      One time, a waiter decided not to write down my modified burger order or my husband's order, then came back to say "Did you say lettuce and tomatoes only", which I said "no" "lettuce and onions only." THAT, in-of-itself, since obviously, he didn't have a good short term memory was TOO LAZY to WRITE the orders down, therefore, when his tip came around, his tip was crappy. He didn't get it right. Now, it's possible he put in the order correctly, but that doesn't matter, because another server brought out vegetables instead of fries as my husband ordered. I truly believe he didn't put the order in correctly, but even though, that other person was part of my service, so the tip should be affected either way, but I TRULY believe that it was our waiter that didn't put in the order correctly if he couldn't get my order correct to even put it into the computer correctly, because something like vegetables on a plate vs. fries is not EVER the kitchen staff's fault, because someone else BRINGS out the food that could have noticed that or our waiter put the order in wrong to begin with.

      "I would give a bad tip to a server if they seemed annoyed by the fact that I may be asking them to do their job or if the server is miserable,” says Tanney. “This generally downgrades the entire meal.”"

      I have had that happen 3 times, for real, some servers said to me when I ordered a bunch of condiments "You might have to remind me." I was like, "NO", that's your job, not mine.

      That did downgrade their tip a lot for being SO LAZY!! It's not my job to remind our server, it's their job to REREAD their WRITTEN ORDER and COMPARE it to the food they are bringing out. If they don't bring out our food, they can bring condiments out ahead of time then since they need not cooking, there's no reason to wait 25 minutes or so.

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