What to do about a bad tip

Bad Tip
chump change

No matter how long you have been waiting tables you are bound to come across a bad tip.  For some this can happen daily, but don’t let a bad tip ruin your day.  My best advice about bad tips: Fuck it!.  Really, bad tips are going to happen whether you like it or not.  The fact of the matter is that a bad tip doesn’t always reflect on your level of service.  There are many people out there who simply just don’t know what is appropriate and others who flat out don’t know what a good and bad tip is.   I have waited on people all over the country and have found that people in certain areas are taught that 15% is a good tip where most people know that 20% is a good tip.  It isn’t always the customer’s fault and it doesn’t make them a bad person if they don’t know how to tip.  To them 10% may mean that they believe that they gave you a good tip even though in your reality it isn’t.  My case-in-point is that just because you get a bad tip you shouldn’t feel like it was your fault or your customer’s, just move on and try to get the next one.

Remember, waiting tables is a numbers game and you are bound to get a bad tip every now and then.  Don’t let it ruin your day.  I have seen it over and over from co-workers who get all upset over one bad tip and it affects their attitude they bring to every table after that.  Next thing you know they have a string of bad tips and it is everyone else’s fault but their own.   I know that a bad mood by a server may not seem like something that will affect the amount of money you bring in, but based on thousands of customer experiences I know that it does.  Sure it sucks to get a bad tip, nobody likes it, but it is going to happen just like that sun is going to set and rise the next day.  So, if you let it slide off your back, realize that it isn’t your fault or theirs it will be easier to bounce your attitude back to a positive state and get the good tips you deserve.

One of the best ways I bounce out of the bad tip bad mood is to comment on something the next customer is wearing, reading, or talking about.  It sounds trivial but it works!  It quickly changes your focus to be interested in who your customers are and can quickly lighten the mood when you approach the next table.  Understand that most restaurants want you to sound like a robot and go over their way of doing things, but realistically people want to be treated like people and they want their server to be a person too.  Let your personality shine and you will move past any negative feelings you had about your last bad tip and have fun with your next few guests.  It will make their experience better and you will have more fun too!  By the end of the night, you may not remember that you got a bad tip at all because some guest will appreciate your personal touch and often you may see tips exceeding the 20% mark.

This isn’t an easy thing to master, but just try it over time and you may see a difference. Good luck and have fun!


Published by: Harvey Hale

Harvey is a yoga instructor and freelance writer. He has studied many types of body awareness classes from Shito Ryu Karate (national champion), ballroom dancing, acting, track and field (hurdles), snowboarding, fitness training and yoga. With his extensive knowledge in anatomy and nutrition he aims to help people understand how to perform at their peak potential and guide everyone he meets to becoming a better reflection of who they already are.

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