Servers – Here is How to Game the Tipping System

WaiterThis is a bit dated, by hey, people don’t change. According to a 1984 paper called “The Midas Touch” in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, there are some very simple things a server can do which play a big part in the size of the tip they will receive.

1. Touch the customer. They divided customers at two restaurants into three groups. One group wouldn’t be touched, one group would be touched on the shoulder once for a second and a half, and one would be touched on the palm of the hand twice for half a second each time.

OK, I have to interject something here. What! I don’t mind being touched on the shoulder, but twice on the palm? I’m not even sure how they manage that!

Anyway, “Untouched” customer tips averaged 12 percent, shoulder 14%, and 17% when touched on the palm. Wonder what kind of tip you’d get if you brushed crumbs off the customer’s lap.

2. Dye your hair blond. In  study of 432 waitresses, those with blond hair received the largest tips.

3. Draw a smiley face on the check. Servers were directed to draw a smiley face on the check of half the 89 groups that dined at a restaurant over 3 days. When a woman did, the average tip rose 28 to 33 percent. However, when a male drew the face, the tip decreased from 21 to 18%. The study authors hypothesized that customers thought the smiley face was effeminate when men drew them.

4. Wear a hair ornament. “They had waitresses at a restaurant in France—where tipping is unusual—wear a barrette decorated with a flower, a small bird, a sprig of black currant, or no barrette. Guguen and Jacob analyzed the tipping behaviors of 665 customers and found that men tipped 41.2 percent of the time when waitresses wore ornaments, compared to 30.9 percent when they didn’t. The effect was even stronger for female customers: Women tipped waitresses wearing barrettes 40.5 percent of the time, compared to 26.4 percent of the time if they didn’t. The type of ornament didn’t make a significant difference.”

5. Crouch next to the table – squatting next to the table increases tips on average by 20 to 25%.

6. I’m looking for something in red – “For a 2012 paper in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, Nicolas Guguen and Celine Jacob assigned 11 waitresses to wear black, white, green, yellow, blue or red shirts as they served over 700 customers in 5 seafood restaurants in France. Across the board, men left significantly larger tips for waitresses who wore red.”

So let me see if I’ve got this right. As a man, if I should become a server, I will die my hair platinum blond, touch the customer as much as possible, draw a smiley face on the check (but only if I am wearing drag, which is likely, as I will be wearing a tiara). I will need to pick a tiara that doesn’t clash with my red shirt/dress/apron,  and it will be necessary to squat down next to the table (perhaps that is the best way to grasp their palms). Or… I could fake experience at palm reading. I’ll be able to retire in no time!

Stupid article from New Republic, yet strangely interesting.

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