Thank you and good bye

Hello all.

This will be my last post about tipping.

As a final post I thought I would run through a few of the things that service-employees can do that have been found to be effective in increasing the amount of tips they can earn. Also, if you’re a customer and you notice any of these things being done to you, its quite possible they are being done so you tip more.

So, hopefully this post will be a little bit useful as well as serving as a goodbye.

Service-employees, wanting to earn more tips, can:

  • Smile broadly at customers (it may seem simple and obvious but it has been shown in numerous studies that the bigger the smile, the bigger the tip).
  • Touch the customer, when handing them their bill, on either the hand or the shoulder (which ever seems more seamless).
  • Introduce themselves by their first name. (It is unclear why this would work, but it does. It is possibly about creating relationships and closeness.)
  • Write “Thank you” or draw a smily face on the bill that is given to customer.
  • Expose the customer to credit card insignia just before they are about the pay the bill (for example, the bill could come on a tray on which the credit card insignia is inscribed). (This is another one of those situations where it is not really known why it works, but multiple studies suggest it does. It could have something to do with subtly reminding the customer how much access to funds they have.)
  • Give the customer a sweet at the same time as the bill.
  • Compliment the customer on their meal selection.
  • Wear a flower in their hair. (This one only seems to work for female service employees. I have no idea why this would increase tip levels. There has only been one study on the effect of this and it was conducted over 25 years ago, but the results seemed clear enough.)

These studies were all conducted in either the USA or France, so it is not guaranteed that they will work in Australia, but it might be worth a try.

Also, there is likely to be an upper limit to the amount to which tipping can be increased, so doing all of them isn’t going to result in you being able to retire at the age of 35. However, don’t be surprised if doing some of these things increases your overall income a little bit.


So that’s it from me. Thank you to everyone who has read, commented on, distributed or even thought about this blog. It has received more attention than a blog about tipping ever really deserved.

As for the tipping research from this point, it continues, but in other forms. Suffice to say, if you see someone in a Melbourne bar with a notepad drinking soda water its most likely me. Then its off the USA later this year to carry things on a little further.

Thanks again, and all the best.


This entry was posted in bars/pubs/restaurants, Meta. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Thank you and good bye

  1. Kim says:

    Dear John,

    Thankyou for the pointers and the blog. I am now an informed consumer. Maybe.

    A couple of things though
    1. Does being touched by the service employee apply in all industries? I would have thought a touch on the shoulder is unnecessary if one had visited a den of iniquity.
    2. A flower in the hair? Really?
    3. Smiley faces on the bill are annoying. Even I can draw a smiley face and I have the artistic skills of a small rodent. I won’t be tipping for that added extra.

    Well that was three things and not a couple. Anyway thanks again for the blog. I might look out for a notepad scribbling, soda water drinking academic in a bar. Only on Tuesdays though.

    • tippingoz says:

      Cheers Kim,

      As for your questions:

      1. The studies on touching customers were done in cafes/restaurants. Whether it applies to other places is unclear.

      2. Yes, really.

      3. I don’t think people see a smiley face on the bill and consciously decide to tip more as a response. There’s some unconscious process going on.

      See you on Tuesdays

  2. Sarah says:

    Nice work on the blog; sorry to hear that you will no longer be spending your Sunday evenings writing about the interesting tid-bits that you have discovered about tipping in the previous week. I will start wearing a flower in my hair.

  3. Trace says:

    I think the 5th one (‘Expose the customer to credit card insignia…’) is the most interesting. So many potential explanations. I wonder if it could have anything to do with the customer feeling sorry for the small, service orrientated business in a world of big players?

    If in your research you find out what customers can do to get better service, I would be very interested to read about that.

    All the best with the next stages of tipping research.

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