Sunday, March 13, 2011

How much should you tip on a catering delivery?

As we look at our website traffic analytics reports, we constantly see this question or similar being asked in Google searches and then the customers get linked to our FAQ page, so finally after about a year of seeing this, we figured we would write a blog article about this, and would love to hear some comments/opinions on this from anyone reading this article!

Tipping on corporate catering is a very gray subject matter compared to the customary 15-20% expected for good service dining in at a restaurant. I think it's also gotten to be somewhat customary to tip close to these percentages for the "pizza delivery driver".

The policies of our Snapfinger Catering (now Cater Nation) partners are all over the map and we try to mirror their "direct" policies. Some charge a high delivery fee and do not expect a tip or suggest something very small like 5%, some charge no delivery (or a very small one) and suggest a restaurant-like 18% tip, and then we even have some like Chick-fil-A that include it in their prices (usually a higher price than takeout prices) and do not expect either. The common denominator - a customer should expect to pay something extra to have an order delivered to them.

If there is not a separate delivery price or a delivery fee is not included, we would suggest a minimum 10% tip as appropriate.

If a restaurant only charges a nominal delivery fee of $10 or less, a tip of around 7 to 12% is likely appropriate. Also, take a look at the vehicle being used --- if it's a company vehicle, it is likely the majority of any delivery fee is not going to the driver and is being used to cover the expenses of maintaining the vehicle by the restaurant or caterer and thus you may want to take a little better care of the driver.

If they charge a delivery fee of more than $20, and the distance traveled is not terribly far, then tips of 0 to 5% and no more than 10% are probably more appropriate as it is more likely that some of that delivery fee is going to the driver.

And then you have the case of a "restaurant delivery service" that utilizes independent contractors. These companies usually will charge a nominal delivery fee and suggest tips of 15% or more. These independent contractors are using their own vehicles and usually do not get a chunk of the nominal delivery fee, nor are they compensated on an hourly basis. If they provide a decent service in setting up your meal in a courteous fashion versus dropping it off at the receptionist desk, 15% will be greatly appreciated by these drivers.

Your company can set a standard tipping policy with Cater Nation, such as adding a 10% tip to all orders with the ability to edit that amount prior to checking out. Give us a call to get this setup for your company.

Also, if you are not happy with the service you received on an order or better yet if they exceeded your expectations, remember you can contact us or chat with us to have the tip adjusted after the delivery, as we do not charge credit cards till later in the day. And just so you know, Cater Nation passes 100% of the delivery fee and tip amounts to our partners, none of this is withheld for what we believe are "value-added" services provided by the Cater Nation team. Our service really is free to our customer base and remember that we offer price assurance! Throw in our CN Rewards program and we could argue we are cheaper than "going direct"!

We could go on and on with this topic, but thought we'd get some of our thoughts out there based on our experiences these past 18 months or so, and would love for some corporate customers, pharmaceutical reps and restaurants/caterers to weigh in with their opinions on this tipping topic! While we may not have made the topic any more black and white, we hope you found this article helpful!

Interested in learning more about Cater Nation, check out our video below!

22 comments:

  1. Well,thank you so much for the information that you shared on your blog it so informative, for me giving a tip on a catering delivery will depends on the amount on a catering services.

    zonia

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  2. Your suggestion seems incredibly expensive to me.

    Today I had a $500 order delivered. So I'm supposed to give the guy at least $50, but more like $75 or $100? I don't buy into that. It took him 1 hour tops to load up and deliver that food and the minimum wage in Oregon is $8.40 (no exceptions). So he's making a minimum of $58.40 an hour?

    That's more than double what I make, and I have college loans to pay, suits to buy, and body parts that must remain free of tatoos and large, gaping holes.

    Sorry, I think it's a sliding scale. If the bill was $20, he would have done the same amount of work. I gave him $20. That's $28.40/hr, an amount that millions of Americans would love to be making right now.

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  3. I also want to know this because we just hired a catering service and if they made a good job I will give them some tip but I don't how much should I give to them. I am thankful to have this post.

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  4. Anonymous (9/14/11 post), I would agree with you that a sliding scale makes some sense in the catering delivery world. Our most common corporate catering deliveries are $150-$250 and is the basis for a lot of our input. I would tend to agree that the higher the amount the lower the percentage. As we said and you help make our point, it's much more complex than the 15-20% expected in the restaurant dine-in world, where no one would tend to argue a sliding scale.

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  5. As a caterer, tips are always appreciated, but never expected. You have to take in consideration the amount of prep time we put in BEFORE we actually drive, deliver and set up the food. We don't just "get in and drive". Yes, we have chefs that cook the food, but I must gather everything needed (ie: chaffing dishes, paper goods, make the salad, put together desserts, make sure I gather all serving utensils, etc). Then I come back and clean everything up and remove dirty chaffing dishes, utensils, etc. Believe me, I put in alot more that one hour's of work. And I drive my own vehicle. So, while tips are not expected, they are definitely appreciated.

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    1. I also am a caterer for a VERY popular and busy cafe. I get in at 5:00 AM to be able to get everything (sandwiches, salads, drinks, boxes, utensils, and all other accroutements that go with a catering package) ready to be delivered by lunch time. I have numerous deliveries and must be at each one on time. It is a very stressful and physically strenuous job. Alot of hurrying up for hours on end! Tips are very much appreciated especially on the larger orders that take more time to get together.

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    2. I also need to respond on the delivery fee. There is a charge of $15.00 of which I get a percentage to take care of gas and maintenance on my own vehicle. And believe me with the running around, there is brakes and transmission to think about.

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  6. Do I need to give a tip to a caterer if I am picking up our food - no delivery, no setup, only doing the cooking?

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  7. This was a very helpful article. A lot of catering customers have this question and it is great that you have taken the time out to answer. Keep up the good work.

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  8. I think tipping is always optional but you should always fit it into your budget in case the caterer really does make your party. It also helps in forming a good relationship. The tip range is usually 10% of the total bill.

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  9. Another vote here for the sliding scale. I just spent $1200 (including taxes and a 7% "convenience fee") to have a local chain cater my corporate lunch seminar. Even a 10% tip means adding an extra $120 to the bill, which would give a few people in my company an absolute heart attack.

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  10. While much of this article makes sense it is not all entirely practical. I cannot leave my meeting to run out to the street and see what kind of vehicle my boxed lunches arrived in. Further, while i do not deny that caterers and their drivers work hard, i've always been opposed to this idea that it's the general public's job to compensate workers making minimum wage. I tip generously for good and even mediocre service but i don't tip at lunch counters where i place my own order and bus my own table.

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  11. Thanks everyone for the comments --- as you can see opinions vary! :) :) I do tend to believe that it should be a sliding scale as well, our Cater Nation orders average around $200 food and beverage and thus drive a lot of our perspective on things.

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  12. I deliver often for pharma reps on small office lunch orders, and I'm ok with no tip as I get a delivery fee based on the distance. The fee usually works out to about 4-6% of the total bill plus my hourly wage of 8$/hr.

    What is offensive, is receiving no tip on large orders of $1000-$3000 where there is a lot of heavy lifting and no extra consideration from the customer. A $15 delivery fee on $3000 of catering is a half of a percent "tip" to the driver who sets up everything for you. You wouldn't do that to the pizza guy, so please don't do it on corporate events. If your company can't greenlight a modest tip (~5%), you need to examine your corporate culture.

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  13. You resolved a very common misconception about amount of tip one should pay on catering. This confused me a lot in recent past during corporate event management.

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  14. I had New Orleans Bar and Grill cater my birthday party and they were amazing!  Hugo showed up on time and went above and beyond to make my guests happy!  He was so cute and nice and DELICIOUS!! I am going to get them for every important event from now on!
    http://www.neworleansbarandgrill.com/catering-services-greensboro.html

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  15. Do you tip a caterer if they do not deliver the food and only cooking it? They will be cooking for about 50 guests.

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  16. If it is a small delivery like pizza! I would ask them to keep the change (probably $2-3), but again it depend on how fast they deliver!

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  18. Nice post lovely blog people will love this post.

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  19. Do you tip based on only the cost of the food (exclude rentals and supplies) and before service charges and taxes?

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  20. I have a catering company and we don't add a gratuity onto the delivery bill. If the customer wants to tip we will take it but otherwise do not expect it. There is a delivery charge and that's it

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