In today’s world, practically everywhere you go somebody is performing a service for you. Some require a simple thank you and a tip of the cap, and others require a monetary tip as an added thank you in order to be polite and show your appreciation. Whether you’re ordering Chinese, taking a lady on a date, staying at a hotel, or just grabbing a drink at your favorite pub, chances are you’ll be tipping somebody (or you should be), so it’s really helpful to know the best practices for tipping. A gentleman will always tip when appropriate and is well-versed on the best practices of when and how much to tip. Tipping the right amount will make you appear knowledgeable, polite, and poised after receiving a service from someone, whereas under-tipping can greatly reduce people’s impressions of you. Even if you’ll never see the person again, you never want to burn a bridge or leave a bad impression if you can avoid it. In this article I’m going to outline my ideas of the appropriate amounts to tip for various services as well as the benefits of over-tipping and when this practice can best be used (because there is a point of diminishing returns).
Why Should You Tip?
Service Workers Work for Tips
As someone who worked for many years as a waiter, I can tell you that many service workers are heavily overworked and grossly underpaid (try $2.14/hour when I was in the restaurant industry). While wages are bumped up to minimum wage if a service worker does not make that amount in tips in a week, many service jobs require the person’s full attention, memory and social skillset to make every customer feel like the only customer that worker is servicing at one time. It requires a lot of skill to approach a stranger, welcome them into your restaurant and truly make them feel like they’re your only customer, while doing the same to 7 other customers at once, on top of organizing the timeliness and accuracy of your order. This goes for many other service jobs as well.
It Guarantees Better Service
When I worked in the restaurants, if I remembered someone as a great tipper, I’d return the favor with even greater service. Admittedly, I would give priority to their table over others to help guarantee I’d get that same great tip that I did last time. This is the biggest personal benefit of giving a bigger tip. Another way you can do this is in places where tips aren’t always the norm. For example at an open bar, many people forget about tipping because they aren’t paying for their drinks. If I go to an open bar, I’ll start off the evening giving $20 cash to the bartender before even ordering my first drink. This way, when the night gets busier and he sees my face in the crowd, I’m the first one he serves.
General Tipping Practices
15-20 percent of the total bill.
$3-5 for both the valet that parks your car and the valet that retrieves it
15 percent of the total bill.
Barbers and hairstylists are one of those service workers who really get to know their clientele and give discounts, special services, etc. My barber for example only charges me for a buzz cut instead of a full cut. I tip the difference, which ends up being about a 41% tip, because that’s what I should have paid anyway had he charged me full price.
$3 for basic wash, 10% for detail
15% of the total bill.
$2-$5 per day
When tipping the housekeeping staff, don’t just leave the cash one the nightstand as they might not realize what it is. Make sure to leave the tip in an envelope that says “Housekeeping” on it so they know it is for them.
$1-$5 per person on your group.
SkyCap or Bellhop
$1-$2 per bag they carry for you.
15% is customary, tip more if they’re braving the elements to bring you your food.
$5 per person, extra if they help you rearrange your furniture.
On the Town
15-20 percent of the pre-tax, pre-discounted bill.
This is another one of those gray areas in tipping etiquette, where people have different rules for tipping. 15-20 percent is a great rule of thumb to follow. I like to start with the idea of tipping 20%, and if the service is not up to par, I will lower it to 15%. If the service is absolutely horrendous and the server makes no attempt to remedy the situation, I will lower it from there. If the service is excellent, or the server knows that I am there for a special occasion and they do what they can to make it even more special, I will tip as high as 30%. Remember if the server doesn’t charge you for a portion of your meal you should still tip on the total as if they had added it to the bill.
Again, it may be a good idea to tip extra on your first drink so they know you’ll tip well if they prioritize your drinks over others. If you’re drinking at $1.00 happy hour specials, tip at least $1.00 per drink instead of percentage-based, because they have to work just as hard if not harder to get those drinks poured for you as they would if they were full-priced.
15 percent, extra if they get you where you need to go in a rush.
Although it’s against federal law to tip federal employees, they can receive gifts of under $20. I doubt, however, they’d tell on you if you gave a little more.
Appreciate the job these folks do to keep your life clean and give a gift of $10 per person around the holidays.
If you have kids in school, give their teachers a gift card to Starbucks or a small gift that is actually useful to them. Stay away from the typical teacher-themed desk ornaments and give them something they’ll actually use.
An extra gift in addition to their normal pay.
An extra week’s pay or a gift in addition to their normal pay.
Do you do something different? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments, or email me at email@example.com.
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