Why You Should Tip Your Server

Why You Should Tip Your Server

I wanted to write a blog about tipping your server because I have quite a few friends that currently work in the service industry. Lately, they’ve noticed that they havent been receiving any tips, especially on big bills. This has me frusterated. As a recent college graduate, making money and making ends meet is tough for many and these service positions are their main source of income. There’s also a lot of people who are trying to provide for their families and pick up serving jobs to put food on the table and tipping goes a long way for people in that industry. 

Though I’ve never been a server, I have a lot of friends that are and I feel the need to defend them. I’ve done my research and I also have a platform to speak on and I feel it’s my duty to remind you why you should tip and if you don’t why it that really affects servers. Am I a server or have I ever been a server? No. Do I own a restaurant? No. Have I had bad service? Yes. Have I had bad food? Of course. But I always tip. Always.

A few fun facts for you about servers and how they get paid:

  • Federal Minimum wage is $7.25 as of July 24, 2009
  • According to the Federal Minimum Wage Law, employers with employees who are “tipped employees” must pay the tipped employees a cast wage of at least $2.13 per hour if they claim a tip credit against their minimum wage obligation (That’s $5.12 less than minimum wage if you wanted to know)
  • If the tips combined with they empolyer’s cash wage of at least $2.13 an hour does not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference
  • In Iowa, the mininmum tax credit against minimum wage is $2.90 which makes  the minimum cashe wage for tipped employess $4.35 per hour
  • Definition of Tipped Employee by Minimum Tips received (monthly unless otherwise specified) is $30 or more

Source: United States Department Of Labor – www.dol.gov/whd and www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm#Iowa

I want to remind you to ALWAYS leave a tip for your server. I’m sure you’re thinking, well Connor what if the service is bad or if my food is bad? If the service is bad, tell the manager on duty. Everyone has a bad day at their job. I’m sure you have bad days at your place of work but no one denies you of your income. Granted if your server is yelling obscenities at you or throwing things at you, they probably should be fired. But if someone isn’t having the best of day and they don’t have a cheerful smile on or they are slammed with all of their tables and your service isn’t as fast as you prefer, you still tip. You have a duty as a customer to either ask why your food and/or drinks aren’t coming as fast as normal or, look around and see how busy the restaurant is. If you notice that your server is running around like a chicken with their head cut off, that means they are trying to provide the best service to each and every single customer that they are serving and just like you, other people aren’t getting as fast of service which makes a server nervous that they might not being getting a tip at all. 

What if the food is bad? Being a former cook at a restaurant I can tell you right now, if the food comes out incorrect, that means the ticket is read wrong or the server accidently wrote something down wrong. Usually, a restaurant will gladly accomodate any of these mistakes with some sort of discount and will remake your food as quickly as possible and get it to you correctly. There is no need to panic or yell or not tip your server. PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES. And let me put this out there, say you order a sandwich with lettuce and your sandwich comes out with lettuce and you decide you don’t want it or mispoke, pull it off yourself. That’s on you, not anyone else.

How much should you leave for a tip? People say you should leave 20% of your bill as a tip. Do I leave 20% every single time? Honestly, no. Should I? Of course I should! But just like you, I’ve experienced bad service where my table was obviously ignored or was treated extremely poorly so I left a smaller than normal tip. But I tipped. Again, you should leave at least 20% of your bill as a tip but I’ll let you in on a secret. Most servers are going to be happy with 15% to 18% of a tip. Why? Because you tipped and if every table tipped on average between 15% and 18%, that is a really good night for your server. 

Want an easy way to find out what 15% to 18% of your bill is? Follow this simple formula:

  • Say your bill total before tax = $12.33
  • To get the tax added on you take $12.33 x 7% (sales tax) = $0.86
  • To get your bill total you take the bill total before tax $12.33 + the sales tax $0.86 = the bill total of $13.19
  • To get that 15%-18% tip, take your sales tax of $0.86 and round to the nearest dollar which would give you $1.00 
  • Then take your $1.00 and double it to $2.00 because 7% + 7% = 14% and since you rounded up, it’s going to be more than 14%
  • To find out how much you tipped, take $2.00/$13.19 = a little over 15% of your bill
  • If you think $2.00 seems still to low (WHICH IT IS) add one extra dollar and you’ll be at 22% for a tip

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, Connor, what about bills that are higher like over $100? Shouldn’t the restaurant be happy I’m spending all this money? Why do I need to give more money to my server? Yes the restaurant is happy! If I owned a restaurant I would be the happiest person ever! Loyal customers are the best and servers also love their loyal customers because they know they can rely on them for a tip and a friendly face to serve. 

Side note: I highly recommend becoming a regular at local restaurant/bar. You meet new people and it’s nice to have a social habit that helps local business

But remember this. This is so important that I’m going to bold it, italicize it, all caps it and make it a little bigger for you so you get the point because besides the fact that you always tip, this is extremely important. Ready for it? Here it is….


But seriously, if you can drop some serious money at a restaurant, you can afford to tip your server. You can afford a burger, pop and appetizer but can’t afford a tip? Look up recipes and work on your culinary skills. And no, $1 isn’t a sufficient enough tip. Refer back to the 20% rule.

So let’s recap a few things:

  • Always tip your server. Always
  • Servers rely on tips not their hourly wage (By Iowa law, servers, at minimum, make $4.35 per hour for a “tipped employee”)
  • Be a considerate customer and look to see how many tables your server has and how busy they are. They are trying to do their best and busier times can mean slower service
  • Your food being messed up isn’t always the servers fault and most restaurants do their best to make corrections
  • When you tip, leave at least 20% of your bill and if you want an easy way to remember how to do that, refer back to example equation I gave earlier
  • If you can’t afford you tip then don’t go out to eat
  • If you feel you’ve had bad service, tell the manager but still the server because they most likely make less than the national minimum wage
  • And did I mention, always tip your server!
Here’s a few things I didn’t cover but you should keep in mind and should research yourself:
  • Why you should tip with cash
  • Automatic gratuity and why you should still leave more than the automatic gratuity
  • Why you should never assume there is an automatic gratuity and should ask if their is
  • If you are bringing in a party, that is a lot more work for the server so be patient

If you’ve never worked in the service industry it’s hard to understand the frustrations that people have trying to make money. Being a server is long hours on your feet and relying on customers to tip them for their service. Talk to your servers about their jobs and treat them with kindness like they are expected to do with you. 

If you’ve been a server before or are currently in the service industry and you’re reading this, I hope this blog has your approval and if I missed anything or you feel differently, feel free to reach out to me and I can make corrections and hopefully make right by my mistakes.

Once again, please tip your servers and eat, drink and play locally in your community. Their are great local businesses in the Cedar Valley with incredible owners and staff that would appreciate your business. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and hopefully you’ll pass this on to let people know why they too should tip their server.

Connor Kenney’s blog post are his views and do not reflect the views of 107.3 The Party or NRG Media LLC. For any comments, concerns, or feedback, feel free to email Connor at CKenney@nrgmedia.com.