What’s The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter?

…your 11 step expert guide

American diners are a fickle bunch. We love going out to eat but when the check comes we don’t know what to do. How much should we tip? Is it 15%, 18%, 20% or more?

What's The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter

It’s gotten so bad that many restaurant chains now place a “tip guide” on the bottom of their checks that list the recommended tip in percentage and dollar amounts. Yes, this makes it easier to figure out the totals but what do we base these amounts on?

Well it depends.  It depends on:

1.      Did the waiter greet you with a warm sincere smile?

2.      Did the waiter make you feel welcome?

3.      Did the waiter inform you of the various possibilities of food substitutions for your meal?

4.      Did the waiter make your children feel important and not like a nuisance?

5.      Did the waiter get your order correct and present it to you as advertised?

6.      Did the waiter check back with you in 2 minutes or 2 bites to make sure you were fully satisfied with your meal?

7.      Did the waiter make sure your beverage was always full and you had enough condiments?

8.      Did the waiter look for an opportunity to follow-up on something that came up in your conversation?  Example:

  •  If you mentioned it was your birthday, did the waiter make arrangements for a special dessert, and at no charge?
  •  If you were taking photos of each other at the table did the waiter offer to take a group shot for you or even recommend another location with a more appealing backdrop?
  •  If you asked about local shopping in the area, did the waiter make a sincere effort to find an appropriate answer for you?

9.      Did the waiter talk-up his fellow team mates and inform you that they could assist you during your meal in case he was not in view?

10.  Did the waiter make sure that you, the customer, felt special and that YOUR enjoyment was HIS primary concern?

11.   Did the waiter thank you for the opportunity to serve you and invite you back again?

If you can answer yes to these questions then by all means tip your waiter as much as you can.  If he/she made you feel special then show your appreciation back and tip well.

Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

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8 thoughts on “What’s The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter?

  1. In Brasil tips ae already included in the bill. Two aspects to that – since the tip is included – usually 10% – most seldom than not the service is medium in most places, since the waiter knows he/she does not have to work hard to receive it. Point two the customer knoes that by paying the bill the service aspect is taken care of. In a few places where staff really show their interest that you enjoy your meal, it is custumary to round up the bill, how ever not obligatory and staff are more interested that you return than anything else. Empty restaurant no job.

    • Hi Francisco,
      Here in the “States” there is a new push to do away with tips and pay employees a flat, and higher, wage. So far there are little facts to gauge if this has hurt or helped service. But it has hurt business in many locations because, as we all knew, the prices have increased to offset the higher wages.

      Time will tell what happens with service but my vote is that service is always better when there is an incentive = a BIG tip!

      Thanks my friend.

  2. Unfortunately, Steve, my husband and I have been served by various wait staff persons over the years who have fallen prey to the “Excellence Syndrome” – the idea that if we don’t mark them as having given us an absolutely fabulous service experience, they are in fear of losing their job! Even if the service was mediocre, we are expected to rate their performance as remarkable! If those who served us really DID serve us in a way as to make our visit truly wonderful, then we tip in kind – not simply because we should feel obligated to do so.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Weak management/ownership spend more time imposing rules, regulations and a false sense of what service really is instead of providing an atmosphere of true excellence.

      Hire polite, pleasant, and respectful employees and allow them to use their natural talents to service the guest/customer.

      Forcing or threats never allow for genuine service.

  3. Steve,
    This is sooooo true. In my home town the wait staff seems to almost universally have hospitality sickness! It is so rare to get good service across the board that when we do get good service we request that waiter or waitress every time we eat at that restaurant and tip accordingly. One waitress left a favorite restaurant of ours and someone told us where she went and we followed her! That is excellent service!

    • That’s exactly how we as customers must act – to “vote” with our feet! We should only support businesses that not only provide a good product but one that has the service to match.

      We all follow a barber/hairstylist, car mechanic and doctor/dentist. It should be the same for other businesses.

      Take care of me and I will keep on returning. When you don’t I’ll find someone else that will.

      Thanks Rob!