Alright. I know all of you webizens have heard countless rants about poor tippers, why you should tip, how little the restaurant business pays, etc. I know it. I hate them, too, but I want to offer a waiter's soapbox from a different perspective.
First of all, I want to note two trends. This may just be me, but hey.
People who pay in cash tend to tip by rounding up to the nearest currency increment (if it's only a buck or two, to the 5 above it) and saying, "keep the change", or just leaving before the waiter can return with the change.
People who pay with a gift card, if the entire tab is on the card, will either tip well in cash or on the card, but if there is a remainder, will usually only tip according to the remainder.
Both of those irritate me. To you credit/debit card patrons who do the math and usually tip well, congratulations and thank you.
Okay, but what's so important about the tip anyways, if you're not going to rant about income?
One thing (two, if you call yourself a Christian - it's one of the best ways to exemplify Christianity to the very secular world of waitroning).
Most restaurants want the best servers and will usually reward the best servers with more shifts and larger floor sections (basically, more chances to earn tips, squared).
How do they do this? By tracking two sets of numbers.
The first goes by a different name depending on your restaurant (mine calls it a GHI (gracious hospitality index)). This number is the average amount spent by one of your patrons. It's basically a measure of how well you can sell the expensive stuff. Can you coax someone from a coke and a burger to a handcrafted strawberry lemonade and a prime burger? If you can, this number will be high.
So, on a side note, please be patient when we suggest some of the more expensive menu items. We're not just trying to jack up the bill (though that is the easiest way to get a higher tip, usually).
The second is the average tip percentage. Pretty self-explanatory. It usually is a decent indicator of how well you can get the patron to like you/how good you are at serving.
What happens, then, is the boss looks at the numbers in comparison to the others and basically decides, "Okay, Jim has the 3rd highest GHI. Let's give him 6 tables tonight. Well, make that 5, since his tips are hanging around 14%. Now Jill, her GHI's not the best, but her tips, 21%! She's good. I'll give her 7 tables. She's capable enough to handle it."
Now, yes, the manager usually knows the waiters by more than name and numbers, but GHI and % are reliable indicators of a server's ability to sell and wow.
So, I ask you, not on the platform of wanting more money lining our pockets, but on the platform of wanting more chances to try to line our pockets, please treat us [your waiters] well*.
Oh, and if you're ever passing through Lynchburg, VA, take a moment to pop in and visit Ruby Tuesday. Who knows, I might be your server.
*(I'd recommend 18-20% as a guideline for standard, considering today's economy and most restaurants' goals)