When it comes to tipping, America is unique in that many service workers rely on tips for their income. There are few service industries where a tip wouldn’t be welcome.
The current Michigan minimum wage is $9.45 per hour and restaurant servers are paid about $4 per hour.
The Times reached out to various businesses to see what their workers experience.
At the restaurant/bar
Jason Warda, who owns The Barn, Fenton Pub and Ponemah Lakeside Lodge, said servers are tipped at 15 to 18 percent. Hosts are tipped out at 3 percent. He said bartenders handle takeout orders and are usually tipped at 5 to 10 percent.
It’s not expected, but always appreciated, especially since these food orders take time away from their bar customers. He feels that the tipping system works in the U.S. and that raising wages would mean less staff, so therefore less service.
Mark Hamel, co-owner of The Laundry, CRUST and El Topo, said servers typically get 18 to 20 percent. Of that, 5 percent of alcohol sales go to the bartender who made the drinks. Other tip outs include 2 percent for the food expediter, the barista and host.
He said most also tip at the coffee counter, and 75 percent offer a tip when prompted at the service counter at CRUST. “As a restaurateur, I don’t feel like I can stop it,” Hamel said of the tipping culture. “Customers want to tip. The other reason would be that I would lose all my wait staff. It is simply too lucrative for servers. They would immediately move to a restaurant that works on tips no matter how much I paid per hour.”
The salon/barber shop
Jennifer Littrell, manager of Sports Clips in Fenton, said their employees are paid more than servers, but still rely on tips, She feels it’s just as standard as tipping servers in restaurants.
She said they usually tip 15 to 25 percent, or between $7 and $10, or nothing at all. This can happen with customers from other countries who aren’t used to tipping.
At her business, haircuts are $19 and “MVP” cuts are $24, which includes shampoo, hot towel and a shoulder scalp and facial massage.
Littrell said she’s satisfied with tipping culture in the U.S. “I think people are very generous and take care of us,” she said.
The car wash
Dave Carlson, manager at Fenton Kar Wash, said tip amounts vary. “We don’t expect them, but they’re greatly appreciated when we do get them,” he said. Tips go into a pool to be split. A worker can receive $3 to more than $100 on a busy day. Tips and business increase in the winter. Carlson said he left one Christmas Eve with $126. “A tip always seems to put a smile on someone’s face which is nice to see,” he said.
They also have a detailing service, but he said no one really tips. These services cost more than $150 for an SUV with a third row seat, and take two workers five hours or more.
Republic Services said that its workers can accept “nominal tips” from customers during the holidays. “Tipping is an individual decision and is never expected,” a media representative said. “A wave ‘hello’ or wishing our drivers a ‘happy holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ is always appreciated.”
Other tipping opportunities
Times readers offered their input in how they tip other industries.
Jessica said she tips half of minimum wage for pizza delivery.
Jean said she tips $2 to $5 per night for hotel cleaning crews. She tips hairdressers and pedicurists 20 percent. “I was in customer service for 30 years and I appreciate great service,” Jean wrote.
Sara urged others to tip their Uber and Lyft drivers.
Drivers who deliver food from other restaurants or groceries also receive tips, even though a delivery charge is part of their bill. Other readers posted that they don’t pay if they know someone is making minimum wage.