New research shows the simple way to get better service in bars and restaurants

Have trouble getting good service in restaurants? Does it seem like you’re always waiting for the server’s attention or that they seldom offer you another drink when your glass is empty? The problem could be your outfit.

Science says that what you’re wearing when you go out affects how restaurant servers will treat you.

Researchers from the University of Missouri surveyed 222 current and former restaurant servers. They showed participants photos of people of different races, genders and styles of dress and asked them to indicate who they believed would leave good tips and poor tips.

It turns out that the race of customers did not significantly affect servers’ perceptions of their likelihood of tipping well. However, well-dressed men were identified as more likely to leave good tips compared to women, while casually dressed men were seen as the least likely of any group to leave good tips.

The researchers also found that this could result in those well-dressed diners receiving better service. “It is clear that restaurant servers use stereotypes and first impressions to determine which customers will receive good service,” Study co-author Kathleen Kim said.

    “Everyone uses first impressions to make snap judgements,” said Kim. “For servers, especially busy servers, they often have to make decisions about how to best devote their time and energy, so they look for ways to identify which customers will reward them the most for their service. The more professionally dressed a customer is, the more likely a server is to stereotype them as a good tipper.”

If you’re dining out, put on a collared shirt, a jacket, maybe even a tie – depending on the establishment. You’ll look sharp and very likely receive better service from the hospitality staff.

Oh, and here’s a tip from a former waitress I know who made a six-figure income serving tables at a high-end hotel lounge. If you have a complaint about your experience, make it politely, and leave an extra big tip.

It might sound counter-intuitive to tip more for service that you weren’t happy with, but it works. The polite feedback followed by the generous tip means that you are a good customer. The next time you return to the establishment, whatever the issue you had with your previous experience wouldn’t be repeated. They’ll like you.

If you’re not happy with your meal or the service, and you make a snarky, rude complaint and live little to no tip, you’ll be remembered as a stingy jerk. Servers will avoid your table next time.

To sum up: To get better service in bars and restaurants, dress up, be polite and friendly, and tip well. (And here’s what not to wear.)

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