Thursday, March 19, 2015

Waitresses' Physical Characteristics and Tip Size

As a person who has worked as a server, I find it intriguing to read about the relationship of certain characteristics of the server's appearance or behavior to tip size. Previously, Geoffrey Miller found that lap dancers tended to receive larger tips during that time of the month they were ovulating. Barring that normally unavailable bit of datum, are there other characteristics of the server that possibly influence the tip.

Obviously, customers leaving the normative 20% of the bill as a good tip for a table server is not always followed. In some places or areas of the country, 15% is considered  acceptable. People who tip less are cheap so-and-sos.

However a paper by Michael Lynn (2008) reported on possible relationships between characteristics of waitresses and their self-reports of average tip size. Specifically, he asked the waitresses to self-evaluate their sexiness and attractiveness but also to report their ages, breast sizes, hair color, and body type. Finally, Lynn asked the women to give their waist and hip measurements, yielding their waist-to-hip ratios (WHRs). The ages of the respondents were primarily younger, with about 85% being below 35.

In general, self-perceived attractiveness tended to decline linearly with age of the respondents; but self-perceived sexiness tended to increase, peaking in the 30-35 age group. Women who were blonde, thin, or who had larger breasts and lower WHRs tended to report getting larger tips. Older waitresses reported getting larger-sized tips, especially those aged 35-40.

Offhand, it seems that there are several dimensions that may affect tip size. Very clearly, certain aspects of sexual attractiveness, especially to guys, do play a part. However, some other dimensions may play a part. For instance, the fact that older waitresses seemed to garner large-sized tips could be due to one or more additional factors in play: (1) These older waitresses have probably been waitresses longer, and have learned more waitress-related skills; (2) They may have or acquired self-presentation skills that enhance their encounters with customers; (3) They have more outgoing personalities that put customers at ease; (4) As compared to their younger counterparts, the average customer may identify more with them; (5) Older waitresses may be perceived as more needful of larger tips, and the customer may sense a greater obligation to tip them better.

Have you any thoughts along these lines?

So what can a potential waitress do? There are several things that seem to come to my mind. First of all, having an outgoing personality helps. Smile. Also, paying attention to details in the ordering and service process. Anticipate customers' needs. Understand the ambiance of the setting and whether you are expected by the customers to be sophisticated and formidable, or friendly and open. Good ole girls fit better with customers in truck stops or even breasturants than they would in four-star restaurants!

Which leads to how sexy you should act or whether you should use any enhancements. You're on your own in that area. I am convinced that the most effective way to appear sexy is to comfortable in your own skin. Sexiness is both in the eye of the beholder and the self-perception of the beheld.


Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I'm surprised that older waitresses get bigger tips. I must be eating at the wrong places.

Banana Oil said...

Successful waitresses soon recognize their regular customers and things about them, like their preferences. Soon customers ask for them by name. They become kind of family.

Clarissa said...

Does acting sexy result in bigger tips?

Mike said...

I've read that the waitress touching the customer always increases the tip. Especially younger gals touching older guys. It works on me.

TexWisGirl said...

friendliness, accuracy, attention to their customers - that's what would make me tip well - whether man or woman. :)

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I waited tables from my teens through my late 20's. I always did extremely well. I am not a tall thin blonde.
Short, busty and very personable always worked for me. I was damn good. I worked at a pancake house on mothers day early morning shirt at age 17. I made over a $100 and that was a loot for a 17 yr old in a 4 hr shift in 1973. Seriously I always kicked ass so I would certainly cheat these stats.

Bilbo said...

I always like a server who is friendly without obviously trolling for tips. I don't mind being called "hon," although Agnes doesn't like it. And regardless of the physical attributes of the server, poor service = poor tip.

The Bastard King of England said...

I base tip size on quality of service, not boobs.

Deena said...

BKE, too bad! I used to wear falsies when I was a Hooters girl. I think I looked damned good, too.

Cloudia said...

Miss! Miss!

We who have served are all the better for it, Angel

ALOHA from Honolulu

John Hill said...

For the most part, I'm a 20% tipper. If the service is even average or better, it's 20%. If it's poor, I tend to make allowances when I can. Too often, poor service isn't the fault of just the server.
I prefer to be generous whenever I can. I would rather be generous to a server that might be having a bad day than compound their day by being stingy. If the experience is that bad, I'll be gracious, but choose not to return.

Cherdo said...

The outgoing personality is a definite money maker; the other thing is to anticipate need but not bug people.

I waitress-ed myself through nursing times, it paid more than nursing!

Dixie@dcrelief said...

I waitress-ed graveyard while at college. I'd get home and still feel that coffee pot in my hand for hours!!