Never forget the gratuity

By Adam Goetz

A common misconception about serving is that it is easy. You come to the table, you get the order and you bring it back to the table. Easy, right? That would be true if each server only had one table, but unfortunately most establishments give servers five or more table sections. This means that one server must cater to the needs of around twenty five people every hour (an average meal time at most restaurants), which is slightly more difficult.

It is also important to consider that servers in Calgary (like every other city in Canada) only make minimum wage since employers assume that we will make up for our deplorable wage in tips. Not to mention that a percentage of tips goes directly to the support staff (kitchen, bussers, etc.), which means that in the worst case scenario servers may actually have to put in their own money to work.

To keep servers happy as well as keep you in the servers’ good books, here are three ways to determine the correct tipping amount.

Hot or Not

After working in various restaurants around the city I have found that this method is favoured by most male patrons. Typically they will rate the server on all of her attributes using a ten point scale, then multiply it by the number of times she has touched him to come up with the ridiculous amount of money they will leave as a tip. The idea is that the tip will guarantee them a date the next time they come in. What they don’t know is that those female servers know this, so flirting and “wiping the table” in a low cut shirt are both tactics they use to fool you. Be warned.

Negative reinforcement

As soon as your server gets to the table announce to them that the ten loonies they see on the table is their tip. Then tell them that every time they do something wrong you will remove one loonie. This lets the server know who the boss is and that you are an extremely high maintenance person, which is a respectable status trait. Acting this way should guarantee you excellent service with a smile, although some servers may not be amused.

Actual performance

The best indicator of all is the server’s actual performance during your stay.

There are some easy ways to tell if you are getting good service. It all comes down to speed, knowledge and rapport. If you are greeted or acknowledged (i.e. “I’ll be right with you”) at your table within two minutes and you get your drinks around four minutes after that the server is taking good care of you. A good server should also be able to answer any question you have–or at least be able to make up a reasonable sounding response. Finally, if the server approaches your table in a friendly and accommodating manner you are getting good service. To reward good service you should tip around 15-20 per cent (if the math is too much for you, double the tax and add a bit more). Unless the service was atrocious, a 10 per cent tip is generally the minimum amount you should tip. If you did get bad service, let them know so that they can improve. A comment card is perfect because they can read it after you are gone, but keep the profanity to a minimum.


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