According to a study by Michael Lynn of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University (Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Feb/2002), a restaurant server who provides exceptional service (as compared to average service) gets a tip increase that most servers do not even notice!
If great service doesn't get a big tip increase, what does?
Raymond, a waiter I worked with almost 25 years ago knew - and this study confirms it. A server (male or female) who touches diners or crouches next to them, gets a bigger tip*. A waitress (but not a waiter) who draws a smiley face on the check also gets a bigger tip. Tips are also noticeably larger when the sun is shining.
But for the biggest tip increases, a server should give 2 pieces of candy with the check (2 1/2% increase). (One piece of candy only brings a 1/2% increase). And to get a 3% increase, the server should give one piece of candy, and then in a visible gesture of generosity, offer a second piece of candy!
Let's all hope that the results of this study are not known to most servers. But the next time you eat in a restaurant and get average service, but your server crouches down and talks to you at the table, and you get some candy with the check, you know why.
* When I was Chef at The Whale Inn restaurant in Colorado Springs in the late 1970s, Raymond worked there as a waiter. Not only did he crouch next to diners to talk to them, and get larger tips than any other server, the diners also were much more forgiving when he made (frequent) mistakes (like getting the order incorrect) - they still tipped him generously, and the kitchen received more tips from his tables than from any other server! (For the skeptics reading this, yes I am positive the tips were from the diners and not just Raymond trying to stay on the Chef’s good side. Frequently the diners would stop in the kitchen to deliver their praise and tips in person).
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