For most Front of the House (FOH) jobs we earn tips, not paychecks. Which has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. I personally am a fan of making tips versus wages.
For one, I get to take home my money every night. Which I know is not true for every restaurant, but it is still common practice in most places.
Also, and most importantly, I am in control of my money. The tips I receive are a reflection of the service that I give. If I give crap service, I can expect to receive a crap tip. But if I make an effort, I have a better chance of receiving a better tip. I don’t expect a better tip every time I go above and beyond, because some people will tip a certain percentage no matter how good or bad the service. But if I practice excellent service with everyone, I am bound to get someone who takes care of me in return.
So here are some tips on increasing your tips.
Introduce Yourself by Name
One of the easiest ways to increase tips, if you don’t already, is to introduce yourself by name. In the restaurant that I work at, we are required to have name-tags. So sometimes we get into the habit of not saying our names, because it’s on display for everyone to see. A study done during Sunday brunch at a restaurant in California proves that genuinely introducing your name boosted tips on average 56%. So start introducing yourself in a sincere and professional manner, and you should see an increase in tips.
Wear Something that Makes you Stand Out
My restaurant uniform includes a white button down, dark jeans and a tie of our choosing. So luckily I have a choice in what tie I wear. By wearing something unusual or unique, you are able to stand out as an individual versus just a faceless staff member. Not able to choose your tie at work? Try adding your own unusual or unique piece of clothing, jewelry or accessory to stand out from the rest of the wait staff. If possible, perhaps wear a flower in your hair, a funny button or a goofy hat. Though, try to avoid anything political, religious or controversial.
Smile and Radiate Positivity
What would you prefer, a server who is grumpy and unhappy or a server that approaches your table with positive energy and a big smile every time. I think we both know who you would choose. So do that, SMILE! Smile big and be happy. We can all sense positive and negative energy, so radiate positivity and your tips will reflect just that. Most importantly, treat every guest equally. We all are guilty of judging a party the moment we see them. But you don’t know your guest, just as your guest doesn’t know you. Don’t assume a guest will or won’t leave you a good tip, because sometimes you will be surprised. Leave a good impression.
In the U.S. it is common to leave 15%-20% of the total bill. So increase the bill, increase the tip. A perfect check includes drinks, appetizer, entrees, and dessert. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Be descriptive. Instead of asking, “Can I start you off with an appetizer, perhaps our pretzels?”, try “May I start you off with some of our hot buttered pretzels with beer cheese fondue? They are a great finger food.” Then the customer is visualizing picking up their buttery pretzels and dipping them in a beer cheese fondue. Oh, desserts, yum. How many times has your guest wanted dessert but they are just too full to eat it? Offer your guests desserts to go. It takes just a few minutes to come out, which they can wait for while they settle their bill. Adds a couple bucks to your bill, and you don’t even have dessert plates to clean up afterwards.
Write “Thank you” on the bill
The two little words “Thank you” have been proven to increase tips. It makes you, the server or bartender seem more friendly. I can remember a time in high school when I went to a restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland, and the server wrote “Thank you” on the check. That was over 10 years ago, and it still made an impression on me. Write it on every check and see if there is an increase in tips. For a little something extra, throw in a smiley face. If you got to know your table a bit, write in something you remember from the conversation like, “Enjoy your movie”, or “Happy Anniversary!”. A little can go a long way. Give it a try.
Recommend Off-Menu Modifications
If possible, make suggestions that make the guest feel like they are getting something special and off-menu. One thing our restaurant is known for is milkshakes and boozy milkshakes. I get asked all the time “What would you recommend”. I usually take one of our base milkshakes, and suggest adding ingredients to make it different. For example, we have a White Russian milkshake on the menu, I suggest adding Oreo and peanut butter. We have the ingredients, so why not? The customer feels like they got something special, and it does add a little extra to their bill. But I get increased tips often for the great recommendations.
These are just a few of the many proven ways to improve tips. As always, remember to be positive, friendly, genuine and professional. A little can go a long way. Not everyone is going to give higher tips when using these methods, but if even a few do, that’s more than you had before.
What are some tips and tricks you use while working at a restaurant? Have you experimented with any methods? Share in the comments below.
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