In our country, it is customary to tip your server. However, in the catering industry, the obligation to tip is somewhat different from the standard restaurant and bar service industry. The rule of thumb in the service industry is 10% to 20% of your total bill, but when it comes to catering, there is no universally-accepted industry guideline about how much or when to tip.
This does not mean that you should not tip your caterers; in fact, although tips are not mandatory, they are always greatly appreciated in any hourly-paid, service-oriented position. On the other hand, the rules of tipping in the catering industry vary depending on certain factors, including how well they provided their service, what you have already paid for, and much more.
Continue reading to learn some important advice about tipping your caterers.
What’s in a Tip?
Tipping is a customary act that is meant to tell a person or company “thank you.” They are most commonly given in the food and hospitality industries because many people who work for restaurants and bars are paid a lower-than-average hourly rate (around $3 or so). This means they rely mostly on tips to supplement their income.
In contrast, most caterers are not paid the same as restaurant servers and bartenders. Instead, they are usually paid a reasonable hourly wage, so they are not dependent on tips. So although many caterers are making the state-minimum wage, it is perfectly acceptable (and kind) to tip them if you feel they went above and beyond your expectations.
When it comes to tipping caterers, first be sure you have not already been charged for tips. Some catering companies include gratuity on the bill. Whether or not gratuity is automatically added into a catering bills depends on many factors, primarily guest count and the particular business model the company uses. Inclusive gratuity is usually a standard for large events with numerous guests.
It is also important to know that many catering companies also add in a fee called a “service charge” or “production fee”, which is intended to cover any incidental costs. However, these types of fees do not go toward paying servers, bartenders, or caterers. So do not mistake a service charge fee for added gratuity.
Deciding to Tip
When asking yourself whether or not you should tip your caterers, it is important to think about the service they provided. If they did a good job, showed up on time, arrived neatly dressed and ready to work, and met all of your expectations, it is nice to offer a tip. How much to tip is a different consideration, but the standard amounts range between $40 and $150, depending on how many caterers worked your event and the cost of your total bill.
When in Doubt…
If you ever find yourself in doubt about tipping your caterers, just consult your point of contact at your catering company of choice. They will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision, including what the charges are on your bill and how many employees will be working your event. After that, it is all up to you and how you feel about their service.