How often in your business dealings have you thought about the proper tipping etiquette for a particular situation?
“How much should I tip a server when the food was bad?”
“How much should I tip the taxi driver?”
“Should I tip the hotel staff?”
We’ve all asked these questions and they are very valid questions to ask. Not following proper tipping etiquette, believe it or not, can have a huge negative impact on your future.
Why you should tip
I agree with you. Tipping etiquette can be such a pain. There’s math involved. Additional expenses. Extra time.
Why should we even tip in the first place?
It’s simple. We should tip because it’s part of our culture. Certain industries are able to pay employees below minimum wage simply because those employees work for tips.
Of course, we all think of waiters and waitresses (or servers to be politically correct). Their wages are pitiful. Without working hard to earn tips from restaurant patrons, they would not be able to make a valid living.
You may not believe servers deserve tips based on a percentage of your order. You might believe you should tip a flat rate. Fine, be that way.
If you think that, you’ve probably never worked for tips before. I did during college and it was a great experience. It really taught me to work hard for my money.
I delivered pizzas for two summers and over holidays during college. The most houses I delivered to, the more money I made. Not only did I get tips (hopefully anyway), we earned a flat rate per house.
Because of that, we’d take up to four deliveries in one trip so we could be more efficient. Naturally, those deliveries needed to all be in the same general area.
I remember delivering pizzas to two friends. The one friend, who was my age, placed an order about every other week. It was usually a small pizza but that cost was normally around $10. Many times he gave me $15 or even $20 and told me to keep the change.
The other friend, who was much older than me, ordered once a month or so. The first time I saw his address come up on the board I was excited to deliver the order. His house was several miles away so that cut into my ability to make other deliveries (and make more money).
When I rang his doorbell, I really expected to get a good tip. Nope! I got a measly one dollar tip. That wasn’t even 10% of the order’s value. Grrr… Tipping etiquette was out the door.
Unfortunately, that became the norm. He always tipped less than 10%. The issue is that I know this guy could afford it. And, now that he is truly successful in his professional life, I still look at him and think about that.
A poor tipper leaves a bad taste
Because of my experience living off of tips, I firmly believe you should follow proper tipping etiquette. A bad tip, or a bad tipper, can really have a negative affect on someone’s day.
Should it? No. The person working for the tip should not let it get to him. That’s easier said than done though.
I remember a conversation with one of my clients who was sort of complaining (this is true – she was complaining, but yet not complaining) about her employees turning in expense reports with what she believed were excessive tips.
Naturally, I asked her how much the tips were. She indicated it was always 20 or 25% of the meals.
I couldn’t help but to answer like this: “I really don’t think that is too much. My minimum tip percentage is 20% and I often tip more. I tip well for two reasons. First is because I used to live on tips so I believe in paying it forward.
“The second reason is because you don’t want your company to be thought of as cheap. Your company is local; your employees live in the same community. If they are cheap tippers, your company is going to get a bad reputation.’
Especially as a company located in the community, you don’t want servers bad-mouthing you, your employees or your company. Within a restaurant, or any other organization, word spreads and it spreads fast.
Hopefully you now see the importance of tipping and tipping well. That still doesn’t answer the questions you ask yourself all the time. Let’s answer those now with a few tipping etiquette tips:
Tipping Etiquette Tip Number 1 – If anything, tip more
Some people really have trouble calculating a tip. With tipping apps for your mobile phones or even calculators on your phones, that should not be an issue.
The easy thing is to tip 20% (at least for meals) of the total cost. To make things easier, I always base my tip amount on the gross, after tax cost. If tipping 20% calculates to a number with cents, I always round up to the next dollar.
Here is an example:
To calculate a 20% tip on $24.95, multiply 24.95 by 2 to get approximately 50. Move the decimal to the left one spot and you get a $5 tip. It’s not that hard…
Tipping Etiquette Tip Number 2 – When in doubt, leave a tip
In what situations is it appropriate to leave a tip? The rule of thumb is this:
If you’re unsure whether you should leave a tip, leave one. No harm can be done by being generous in this manner.
Here are some situations that come into question:
Hotel cleaning staff – Leave a tip if you permit them to clean your room. I usually keep the “do not disturb” sign on my door because I do not want my room serviced during my stay. In that case, I do not tip.
Bellhop or airport skycap – If a bellhop helps you with your bags, tip them. Typically one dollar per bag is sufficient. If you don’t tip the skycap, your bag might not even make it to the airplane. I’d tip a greater amount there.
Rental car or parking garage shuttle driver – Tip at least one dollar per bag, if he/she helps you with your luggage. If you bring your bag on the shuttle and take it off, a tip is not expected.
Concierge – At least in my line of work, I do not stay in hotels frequently that have concierges. However, you should treat anyone in a hotel who does something for you as a concierge and tip accordingly.
For example, if you stay in one of my favorites, Hampton Inn, and you ask the desk clerk to run to Walgreens to get you starch for ironing your shirt, you should tip well. That is not in that person’s job description and he/she is going above and beyond to provide great service.
Full service – My minimum is a 20% tip. If the food is bad or the order is wrong, it is likely not the server’s fault. Don’t punish the server by not tipping well. If the service is lacking, then you may decrease the tipping percentage.
Pickup/carryout – You can tip but it is not expected. You often see a tip jar on the counter where you pickup or order your food. The employees hope for tips but they are paid a full wage and do not expect to be tipped.
Buffet – If you get your own drinks and food, no tip is required. However, if a server gets and refills your drinks, then tipping is expected.
Delivery – Always tip 15-20% of the total bill. If the person had to travel more than a few miles, tip even more.
Haircut – There are two rules of thumb to follow here. If you get your hair cut in a salon or even in a Great Clips-like establishment, tip 20% of the cost. The person cutting your hair does not get the full amount of the bill as payment so the tip helps.
If you are like me, and get your haircut in someone’s home, I only tip 10% and that may not even be necessary. The woman who cuts my hair works for herself out of her home. She gets to keep 100% of what she charges so tipping is not necessary.
Shoe shine – Tip 20% of the cost of the service.
Dry cleaner – A tip is not necessary but is always welcome.
Tipping Etiquette Tip Number 3 – No coins
Let’s just be frank about this. Coins are heavy and burdensome. Don’t tip with coins unless you’re giving a good tip in whole dollars and just say, “keep the change.”
I remember in my pizza delivery days carrying a change bag in the car. It filled up fast with all the coins I received in my tips. It’s only okay (from the tippee’s perspective) if the tipper also gives some whole dollars.
Tipping Etiquette Tip Number 4 – If you can’t afford to tip well, don’t order so much
The younger people are, the more I hear that they can’t afford to tip well. If you can’t afford to tip an appropriate amount, don’t order so much.
For example, if you can’t afford a $20 tip at a restaurant when your bill is $100, you shouldn’t have ordered $100 worth of food and drink. It’s really that simple.
Tipping is bad
You may read everything above and think, “I’m not going to follow any of this advice. Tipping isn’t a law. In fact, the whole system is messed up and tipping is hurting everyone. I need that money. If the server needs to rely on my tip, he should find another job.”
Let’s be real. There are people who think like this. Read this article for example.
I totally disagree with those sentiments. While it would be nice for the system and our culture to not including tipping etiquette (because I’m definitely frugal), that’s not how our system is.
You may think if enough people stop tipping, it may change the system. That may be true 50 years from now. But, for now, that’s not going to make a difference. If you don’t want to tip, don’t go somewhere where tipping is expected.
Are your tipping etiquette questions answered?
You’re going to be expected to tip. It’s almost impossible to stay out of situations in which you won’t be expected to tip. Having the knowledge on what to do regarding tipping etiquette will make your life easier.
Sure, there are many other instances when you will wonder whether you should tip. Follow tipping etiquette tip number 3 and you’ll be just fine.
Think of tipping as a way to pay it forward. You’re having an influence on others when you tip. It’s up to you to decide whether to be a negative or a positive influence.
Question for you: What situations do you experience in which you wonder whether you should tip? When in those situations, what do you do? Do you tip?