The Truth Behind Tips
Do you ever wonder what happens to a waiter’s tip? What you may think is what most customers believe and what you about to learn will probably shock you. Depending on the type of restaurant, type of management and the number of staff, a waiter’s tip can vary.
Where Did My Tip Go?
A recent article published by the Chicago Tribune reveals the truth behind tips. There is one of two common types of tipping systems used in most restaurants; a Pool House or an Independent Contractor.
What’s the difference? Tips are placed in a pool and allocated to each staff member at end of the shift while the latter method involves a waiter breaking off a portion of his/her tips to share it among the support staff (i.e. busboys, food runners). Most of us have believed the notion, the waiter keeps everything. Well, if you are one of them, hopefully what you will read next will change your view the next time you enter a restaurant.
Take for example Chris Tallian, a 30 year old veteran waiter in Chicago who has been waiting for most of his adult life. Money has generally been good, but what he wants customers to know is what happens to tips.
At his present job at Nick’s Fishmarket, tips are divided among different staff members or so called support group, the people involved in creating the whole experience. Without their help there would be no table to serve. Therefore at the end of the night, Chris’ tip is broken down into the following:
- 1% to the hostess
- 5% to the bartender
- 13.4% to the busboys
- 26.8% to the captain
- 26.9% to the back waiter
- 26.9% to the front waiter (Chris)
So a $20 tip leaves Chris with only $5.36. All that work for not much at all.
What Happens to Credit Card Tips?
If you thought the tip you left on the credit card goes to the waiter, your wrong again. Instead, a restaurant may charge the waiter credit card processing fees. So even though it’s at no fault of the waiter to accept credit card payment, he/she is left paying for a restaurant’s credit processing charges. Sound fair to you?
Apparently this is legal in most states. Landry’s Restaurants, a Texas-based chain who owns the Rainforest Café subtracts waiter’s tips that are given on credit cards. Restaurants who practice this method usually charge 2 to 4 percent just to offset the credit card processing fees.
How to Get Most Out of Your Tip?
Waiter from the popular blog site, Waiter Rant states:
“If the customer knows tips are being pooled, they can slip the waiter a $20 and say this is just for you, nobody else.”
Waiter also suggest for customers to ask how the tipping system works. You may not get a detailed answer, but it is worth a try.
Three other tips to keep in mind include:
- If possible, try to leave a cash tip just in case waiters are charged for credit card processing fees.
- Observe the size of the restaurant and its support staff. If your service was met your expectations, then you may want to tip slightly more. The greater the support staff, the less gratuity for your waiter.
- Leave a verbal tip by informing the management of your satisfaction of the service. Management will take notice and this should create job security for the waiter.
How Does your Restaurant Work?
Throughout my career as a waiter I have received two types of tipping systems:
Casual Dining – Japanese Restaurant
- 3.5% to the kitchen staff
- 96.5% to the waiter
In this instance, the tip distribution to the kitchen staff was insignificant. However the restaurant paid them well above average.
Fine Dining – Continental Cuisine
- 1% of a waiter’s gross sale
- 3.5% of waiter’s gross sale when one person is on the floor
- 3.0% of waiter’s gross sale when two waiters are on the floor
- 2.0% of waiter’s gross sale when three waiters are on the floor
- 1.0% of waiter’s gross sale when four waiters are on the floor
How much do you have to tip out? As a customer, how much do you normally tip a waiter?