Customers overwhelmingly welcome an accreditation scheme for distributing gratuities

Over 300 consumers took part in a survey over December 2018 and January 2019 to share their views towards tipping and services charges. Just under 80% would welcome an accreditation scheme for restaurants who follow best practice principles for distributing gratuities to staff.

In a campaign entitled ‘The Future of Tipping’ by EP and WMT Chartered Accountants, customers desire a scheme which would help them better understand how tips and service charges are distributed to staff and give them more confidence when leaving it. Following a survey completed with senior players in the hospitality industry, the results show that there is confusion towards tipping and a need for a greater understanding.

Of the 332 people who took part in the survey, all of them eat out at the least every few months and at the most a few times a week. The most popular was a few times a month so this ensured that these results reflect customers who often experience hospitality. The majority of these (68%) spend £20 to £50 per person when they eat in a restaurant and they were most likely to leave 5-10% of the bill (44%) and 10-15% of the bill (34%).

The Results:

Neary 80% said a cash tip was their most preferred way of making a tip, just under 16% had no preference and 5% left a tip by card.

In comments on why they choose to leave a tip this way, the majority of comments were because they knew who would receive it and the ease and convenience of leaving it in that way, whether card or cash.

Discretionary service charge?

  • 34% would usually pay the charge if it’s included on their bill
  • 19% would never pay it
  • 13% always pay it
  • And 13% rarely pay it

Why do customers leave a tip or pay a service charge?

  • Most customers tip based on the standard of service from the waiting staff. Other factors considered are quality of the food (37%), the overall experience (36%), speed of delivery (27%) and the cleanliness of the restaurant (19%)
  • As expected, 73% wouldn’t leave anything if the food was poor or they needed to wait a long time for their dishes to arrive

Who should receive a share of tips?

  • 42% of respondents thought the waiting and kitchen staff should receive a share of the tips
  • 26% believe tips should go only to the server who looked after their table
  • 17% said all non-management staff should have a share
  • 8% feel that it should go to all staff including the manager
  • 5% think they should be shared between all the waiting staff

Who should decide who shares the tips?

  • 31% think the decision should be made by a member of staff
  • 31% said an independent third party should decide
  • Only 6% said the government should decide who gets a share

Should we ban the tip and service charge?

  • 42% No
  • 30% Yes
  • 19% Not sure

If it were banned, 48% would pay no extra, 30% would pay 10% extra and 22% would pay 5% extra.

Time for an accreditation scheme?

Overwhelmingly yes:

  • 78% want operators to follow best practice principles when distributing gratuities to staff
  • 63% say this would help them better understand how tips and service charge are distributed and only 8% believe it wouldn’t
  • 63% also say this would help give them more confidence when leaving tips and service charge
  • Just under half say a kite mark or accreditation logo would make them more likely to visit and just over half say it will make no difference
  • This kite mark would also make 41% more likely to leave a tip or service charge

Customer Comments

Many ask where they tip goes before, they leave anything:

“I usually ask the staff if they receive the tips left. And see if I can find a way to make sure they do”

“Always ask now before paying by card and will leave a cash tip if entire tip does not go to staff”

It is interesting to note that some of those surveyed argued the industry isn’t paying a decent wage, a perception of the sector which seems to impact their approach to tipping:

“I don’t agree with the principle of tipping. I think all staff should be paid a decent wage in the first place.”

“It is a z minefield. Surely staff should be better paid then they wouldn’t need top up of tips.”
“It’s high time greedy restaurant owners paid a realistic wage to their staff”

There was a thought that if minimum wage goes up, it should bring an end to tipping, whereas others argued that restaurants would gain an accreditation and then not follow best practice:

“Any system would require monitoring… Restaurants owners will find a way of profiting from tips for sure.”

There was also a view towards how to indicate why or why not a tip was left:

“Currently there is no way to indicate you are declining to pay a service charge because the service or food was poor.”

The results will be discussed and debated over breakfast on 14th February 2019 in central London. If you would like to be involved, please contact us. The results of the customer survey will be published soon.