Restaurant Experience

Tipping Culture

If there’s one thing Americans love to argue about, it’s the culture of tipping within our service industries. These arguments play out in everything from hotel cleaning services to haircuts, from ride-sharing to hiring movers, but in no industry is the culture of tipping more contested than the restaurant business. To alleviate the confusion of patrons and protect the income of servers, many restaurants now embrace the concept of suggested tipping, here’s what that means for the industry and what it could mean for your restaurant.

Suggesting Tipping

While Americans continue their debate as to whether or not tipping culture should be abolished within the states, servers in the restaurant industry still need to make a living. With all the changing norms, it can be difficult for a patron to know what, exactly, is an appropriate tip and having to do the math can slow down the time it takes to clear out a table. Suggesting tips makes all of this easier, while still leaving the choice on what to tip in the hands of the patron.

Suggesting a tip means just what it says, the practice of adding three simple options to the bottom of a guest’s check (make sure you include both the percentages and the actual dollar amount) that allows them to select the tip they wish to leave without having to do the math or question what the standard tipping rate is. You can even go so far as to include the price of the tip and meal together for the grand total, removing any additional math from your guest’s checkout process.

While sometimes referred to as guilt tipping or tip creep, this practice has seen an overall increase in the take home tip for people in the service industry. For example, the average tip within American society has risen from 15% to 18% in the last few years, and one of the main reasons is the suggested tipping options added to many checks and food apps. In fact, when it comes to using an app that has suggested a tip, 29% of people say they are more likely to leave a tip when it is suggested instead of pushing the “no tip” option.

Different Restaurants mean Different Tips

It is important to take into consideration the type of service and restaurant experience when suggesting a tip to guests. No one likes to be guilted into tipping more than they feel is fair, but employees are still working hard to earn those tips. What are the suggested ranges for the different types of restaurants?

Sit Down Restaurants – For upscale or sit-down establishments, 15% to 20% is considered the standard tipping range for servers depending on the experience of the guests.

Buffets – Guests usually consider this a lighter workload for restaurants and prefer to tip around 10% accordingly. Suggested tips should take this into consideration.

Bartenders – Unlike regular servers, bartenders may find better success in suggesting dollar amounts the way ride sharing services do with options such as 1-3$ per a drink. In the event of a large bar tab, percentages usually fall between 15% and 20%

Don’t Forget

Don’t forget to take into consideration the pretax versus the full restaurant bill. The Emily Post Institute recommends all tips should be calculated off the pretax value, and guests will notice if this isn’t the way you suggest your tipping breakdown.

Finally, remember to split suggested tips evenly when splitting a check. No one wants to have to divide the tip suggestions in half or by four just to figure out their fair share and this could depress tipping further or result in no tip being left at all.

Restaurant Experience
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