The amount customers tip has less to do with their perceived quality of service and more to do with other factors and biases, like race, gender, and attractiveness. So much so, that some have called for tipping to be outlawed1 and many restaurants in the USA have already stopped accepting tips, instead opting to pay their staff a decent wage.2
That said, here's a list of things you can do to increase your tips without changing your race, gender or attractiveness. Thanks to the work of researchers like, social psychologist and tipping expert Michael Lynn.3
Playing music with pro-social lyrics, (words that promote love, being kind to each other, not being a racist, etc.), has been shown to make people behave pro-socially.1 So it's not such a stretch to imagine that it could cause customers to dole out the moola.
Luckily, you don't have to imagine, a study conducted in Vannes, France, proved it to be true.2 Not only did it increase the number of customers who tipped, from 24% to 35%. It also increases the average size of the tip.3
Smiling at customers results in higher tips. While that's not surprising, it's worth knowing that there's some science to back it up.
In 1978 an experiment was conducted at a cocktail lounge in Seattle. It found that customers who'd received a "broad smile"2 tipped on average 148% higher than a control group who received a small smile.
1. Tipping Research - Megatips 2 - Michael Lynn - 2011 | 2. Monetary significance of the affiliative smile: A case for reciprocal altruism - Kathi L. Tidd and Joan S. Lockard - 1978
“Good morning. My name is _______, and I will be serving you this morning. Have you ever been to Charlie Brown’s for brunch before?”1
On a Spring day in 1988, half the diners at Charlie Brown's in Huntington Beach received this greeting. The other half received the same greeting but with one difference; the servers didn't introduce themselves by name.
The tips were added up at the end of the day. The diners who'd been given the server's name left significantly higher tips than those who hadn't. 23% of the check compared with 17%.
"We need to talk about your flair" - Office Space1
Wearing an ornament in your hair has been shown to increase tips by an average of 17%.2
This experiment was first conducted using flowers, and later shown to hold true for other ornaments, including "a little bird, or a sprig of black currant."3
It seems that making yourself stand out will give customers the impression that you're a human being, not just a cog in the corporate machine. That or people just like flowers and birds.
In 1996, two researchers in Philadelphia decided to test the effect that messages written on checks had on tips.
They found that checks with "Thank You" handwritten on the back, increased the average tip from 16% of the total check to 18%.1,2 Checks with "Thank You" followed by the server's name had the same effect.
An experiment in the Netherlands showed that subtly mimicking customers speech resulted in more tips. Researchers had servers repeat customers' orders back at them. A control group just confirmed the orders by saying something like "okay" or "coming up!"1
Mimicked customers gave a tip 78% of the time. Customers in the control group only tipped 52% of the time. Mimicking customers also doubled the average tip amount.
Most diners (in the USA) tip around 15% to 20% of the total check.1
So, it should go without saying: the more you sell, the higher the gratuity will be. One study showed that practicing 'suggestive selling' (suggesting more things for customers to order) increased the average check by 25%.2
Just the presence of credit card logos has been shown to increase spending, even when the customer isn't using a credit card. One theory suggests that the idea of 'credit' gets people in the mood to "Buy Now, Pay Later."1
This effect was tested on tipping habits in a restaurant and a cafe in New York.2 The study showed that using tip trays with credit card logos on them significantly increased the size of tips. Customers tipped an average of 4.29% more.3
Some people aren't aware of the social norm of tipping.1 Those people aren't necessarily weirdos; they could be from Iceland, where there is no tipping. Offering tipping guidelines alleviates this problem and has been shown to raise tipping amounts.2,3
The most practical place to show tipping guidelines is at the bottom of the receipt.
Reciprocal Altruism (doing a kind thing for someone with the understanding that they might do a kind thing in return) has been shown in bats1 and humans.
What's the point? The point is, if you give someone a gift, even a small one, they'll feel obligated to give something back. One Study showed that giving diners chocolates at the end of their meal raised the average tip from 15% of the check to 18%.2, 3
That's all we've collected so far. If you have any tips that you'd like to add, please let us know.
Know any servers who could use a few extra bucks? Help them (and us) out by sharing this list.
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