No-Tip Restaurants Survey: Nearly Half Prefer No-Tip Policies

Over the last couple of years, a few restaurants have changed their tipping policies so that they simply pay a regular wage to servers instead of expecting customers to provide tips for service. And according to a recent survey of restaurateurs from American Express, that trend is likely to continue. So what do consumers think about the concept of no-tip restaurants? And how many have already patronized those restaurants? We asked 1,000 respondents on October 17-20 about their thoughts on tipping policies and full-service restaurants.

no-tip restaurants

Restaurant Consumers

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 9% of respondents said that they’ve eaten at a full-service restaurant within the past day. 23% have done so within the past week. 22% have within the past month. 16% have in the past three months. 9% said they last ate at a full-service restaurant within the past year. 10% said it’s been over a year. And 11% are not full-service restaurant consumers at all.

Tipping Policies

In general, 71% of restaurant consumers said that they always leave a tip when dining at a full-service restaurant. 14% said they do so most of the time. 7% do about half the time. 5% said they rarely ever leave tips. And 2% never do. 38% of restaurant customers said that they consider an acceptable tip for good service to be between 16% and 20%, making it the most popular tip amount.

Overall, 74% of respondents said that they would eat at no-tip restaurants that paid fair wages to servers. And 42% said that they would actually prefer eating at restaurants with no-tip policies. 38% said they would go out to eat more often if they didn’t have to worry about tipping. But 51% said that they would worry about food prices at restaurants with no-tip policies.

No-Tip Restaurants

So far, just 9% of respondents said they’ve eaten at full-service restaurants with no-tip policies many times. 14% have done so once or twice. And 77% said they’ve never eaten at full-service restaurants with no-tip policies. Of those who have already dined at no-tip restaurants, 53% said they would prefer to dine at no-tip restaurants going forward.

Most of those who have eaten at restaurants with no-tip policies couldn’t remember the names those restaurants. But some named restaurants like Olive Garden, Applebee’s and Red Lobster as chains that have some locations with no-tip policies. Overall, 50% of those who have eaten at restaurants with no-tip policies said they were at least somewhat satisfied with the experience.

Key Takeaways

Overall, it doesn’t seem like having a no-tip policy would be a deal-breaker for a lot of restaurant consumers. But it doesn’t seem to really excite them either. Concerns about food prices could be one of the main reasons customers seem a bit wary of no-tip restaurants. So those that enact no-tipping policies could potentially benefit from being transparent with customers about how the policy actually changes things, maybe even showing or demonstrating how they’d save money overall thanks to the no-tip policy. In addition, most restaurant consumers are simply used to always leaving tips at restaurants. So changing that could seem unnecessary or unappealing. But since those who have dined at no-tip restaurants were more likely to say that they prefer that system, consumer opinions could potentially just evolve over time and make it a little easier for more restaurants to make the change in the future.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Douthat Lakeview Restaurant-server by Virginia State Parks under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on October 17-20 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.