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.