Most of us are pretty comfortable knowing how much to tip waitstaff at restaurants or the pizza delivery folks who bring that Friday-night pie to your door. But what’s the right way to tip the delivery person who brings a catered meal to your office? Is a tip always necessary? How much is enough? What’s the difference between a tip and a delivery fee? And how—if at all—have tipping standards changed during COVID?
To help you avoid any awkward moments, we’ve put together an overview of the ins and outs of properly tipping catering delivery drivers. Once you understand the basics, it’s really pretty simple.
Delivery fees are not driver tips.
The first thing to know is that catering delivery fees do not go to delivery drivers. This may be confusing at first, but there are two very different sets of services to consider.
Delivery fees help restaurants offset the overhead costs associated with getting your catering order from their kitchens to your office. These costs include things like gas, car maintenance, the delivery equipment and packaging that ensures food quality, parking, delivery dispatchers, and so forth.
Delivery fees do not go toward hourly or other compensation for delivery drivers. We recommend tipping your driver unless the distance from the caterer is very short, or the delivery fee is already large.
Is a driver tip already included in my order?
This is a valid question. Sometimes, gratuity is automatically included in your total bill. You usually see this with larger catering services and on larger orders. The practice is not that different from restaurants that automatically apply a standard gratuity for groups over a certain number of people. It’s never a bad idea to double check with your caterer regarding whether or not a gratuity has already been factored into the order total.
How much should I tip my delivery driver?
How much you should tip is generally determined by the size of your order. The larger the order, the smaller the tip percentage. Our pre-COVID delivery driver tipping guidelines look like this:
- Orders under $50: 15 to 20% tip
- Orders of $100 or more: 10% tip
Our data shows that in practice, actual tips in pre-COVID times varied slightly from these recommended percentages, but our guidelines are still a good starting point. It’s worth mentioning, however, that COVID has shifted the average tip amount up, in some cases quite significantly. Unsurprisingly, customers have a greater appreciation for the folks who are on the front lines in the catering world.
Average delivery tip for office catering orders in 2019 vs. 2020
|$50 – $100||10%||11%|
|$100 – $200||9%||10%|
What does my tip cover?
Delivery drivers often rely heavily on tips to supplement a low hourly wage. Many drivers are independent contractors who don’t have access to corporate health insurance or other benefits. Much like bartenders, hostesses, and waitstaff in traditional dining establishments, delivery drivers depend on tips to maintain a living wage.
It’s also important to consider the value of the service that the driver is providing. Not only is this person transporting your catering order quickly and safely from point A to point B, they are also bringing everything right to your office, often setting everything up in an appealing and logical format, walking you through what you ordered, outlining each menu item on the table, and answering any questions you have regarding serving strategies. And that doesn’t even cover the challenges of dealing with traffic, parking, and inclement weather.
What’s the best way to tip on ezCater?
The easiest way to tip a delivery driver is to simply enter the tip amount when you finalize payment on your ezCater order. This way, you know the tip will be taken care of, even if you’re not present when the delivery arrives. This also helps you avoid the awkwardness of trying to calculate the proper tip amount on the fly or fumbling for cash while the driver waits.
With ezCater orders, your tip goes directly to the caterer, and they choose how to distribute it. If a third-party delivery partner is delivering the food, the distribution policy may vary by delivery company.
Delivery drivers are an important part of any catering operation.
COVID has made life more difficult for everyone, but especially for people who are out there making sure everyone is able to get what they need with as little effort and hassle as possible. The delivery drivers bringing catering orders to your office are truly sticking their necks out so you don’t have to.
So, when you’re budgeting for your next office catering order, make sure to leave room for both the delivery fee and an appropriate tip for the delivery driver. Both services go a long way toward making your life easier and your catering event more successful.
Feed your next meeting or event with ezCater!