Working in the service industry can often mean you are reliant on tips to supplement your income and make a liveable wage.
This means that, as a server, you need to not only be amazing at your job – but that people need to like you and want to leave you tips. The psychology behind what drives customers to tip more is complex and often surprising – often the amount you will receive as a tip will be impacted within the first 10 seconds of meeting the customer.
With these 10 insider tips you will be a tip-earning machine, and a better server altogether. ProTraining by Yardstick Training’s online-learning food and beverage courses can teach you how to be not only amazing at your job in the industry but how to be safe and effective.
1. Great Service
Providing great service may be a bit of a given. However, it’s still important to remember that the biggest deciding factor in a customer’s decision to leave a generous tip is if they feel that the service went above and beyond ordinary.
Greet every customer with a warm smile and introduce yourself using your first name quickly establishing a connection. Repeat each customer’s order back to them after being taken to make sure that you never accidentally make mistakes with their food or beverages. While waiting for food to be ready, and when customers are dining, make sure to frequently check on the enjoyment and satisfaction levels of each table. Think of yourself not as a server dealing with customers, but a friend providing a meal to another friend.
As a food service professional you should be able to read people to understand their individual needs, some customers prefer a server who checks on the status of the table often, while others prefer to be left alone entirely – being able to tell the individual needs of each customer will greatly increase your chance of receiving a large tip.
As a server you want to make customers feel like friends, through this relationship building you will almost always receive higher tips.
Establish a rapport with customers, learning their names, remembering their drinks, comment on noticeable traits such as outfits, interests, etc. But be careful to avoid being intrusive.
Despite how difficult of a shift you are having, it’s important to always appear calm, personable and friendly when interacting with customers.
3. Entertain Your Guests
Research has indicated that servers who identify and satisfy a customer’s need for entertainment are tipped more than those who do not.
A French study had waitresses and waiters give half of their customers a card with a joke written out on it. Forty-two percent of customers who received the joke left a tip, compared to only twenty-five percent of those who did not receive a joke. Customers who were left a joke also comparatively left larger tips.
To entertain your guests, simply let your personality shine through. Be friendly with customers, tell jokes, talk personably about both your day and theirs.
4. Leave a Lasting Impression
Final impressions are nearly as important as first. When your customer asks for their bill, it serves as your final moment of opportunity to leave a good, long-lasting impression on them.
Writing a customized thank you on a customer’s receipt can go a long way in invoking feelings of friendship and desire to tip. In addition, make sure you are easily accessible when a customer is nearly finished their meal, as many customers will provide a smaller tip if they are left waiting to pay the bill for long periods of time.
A thank you note, or a small and simple drawing can make customers more inclined to leave a tip. Another great idea is to simplify conversion rates for tipping and write these amounts on the receipt, so the customer doesn’t have to guess the proper amount.
5. Speaking Up and Repeating Orders
Having a clear and well-spoken, but never aggressively loud voice is a great way to improve your chances of getting a good tip from customers.
Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with someone who speaks so quietly you can’t understand them, especially when that person is in charge of bringing you your food at a restaurant.
When taking orders, speak confidentially and clearly – make sure to memorize rotating specials and on-draft beverages, confidence goes a long way. In addition, repeat every order back to customers once they have placed it, this shows you are both paying attention and great at your job.
6. Smile and Mean It
This one might be another obvious tip, but a smile can go a long way in improving your chances in receiving compensation for your hard work.
Instead of forcing yourself to simply put on a fake smile, try to look for the best in every workday and every customer interaction. Actually being happy, with a genuine smile, will lead to your customers being more generous with tips.
Smiling individuals are often perceived to be more attractive, sincere, sociable and competent.
7. Stand Out From Co-Workers
Another great way to make sure your customers remember you, is to wear something that sets your apart from other servers you work with.
A French study found that servers who wore something in their hair received larger tips than those who did not. Standing out leaves a longer lasting impression of you as an individual with your guests.
Always make sure that whatever individualized piece of clothing you are wearing abides by your company’s dress policy.
8. A Bigger Bill Means Bigger Tips
Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest factors affecting tip size is the total of the entire bill. Customers with larger bills are often more inclined to leave larger tips.
Encourage your customers to order appetizers, desserts and more expensive drinks – knowing the specialty food and beverage items can go a long way. Just make sure to avoid being pushy with this tactic as it can make customers feel as if you are fishing for a larger tip.
The exception to this rule, is during a rush. When your restaurant is extremely busy, you will make more in tips from high customer turnover rate, then larger individual customer bills.
9. Choose Your Shifts Wisely
This tip may not be something that you can control, but if possible, it’s obviously advantageous to work shifts with more customers.
Although the relaxed and easy-going breakfast shift might make for a more pleasant workday, it will usually result in lower tip percentages. Instead, try working busy dinner rush shifts, and take all extra shifts your management team will offer.
In addition, do your best to have as many active tables in your section as possible, while avoiding crashing. There is a fine line to be walked between maximizing profits and drowning in too many responsibilities.
10. All Customers Are Equal
It’s easy to have preferred guests when working in the service industry. After all, some guests will be rude, unpleasant and just all around not pleasant to deal with. Despite this, however, it’s important to always treat each guest with the same respect and customer service.
When dealing with difficult customers, simply remind yourself that they might be having a difficult day, and keep positive spirits.
Also remember that tips are not required. Every customer who eaves a tip does so because they felt the service provided to them was deserving of that tip. Work with this mentality in mind and you will see your tips increase.
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