15 Scientific Tactics to Make More Tips!
A complete guide to MAXIMIZING your take-home tips as a waiter or waitress. Data gathered and constructed by Server Plus
Okay, we know 15 Tips for Tips is quite a lot to handle, so we suggest taking these just a few at a time, mastering them, and then moving on to more. If you try to implement all of these tactics at the same time you may feel overwhelmed and end up quitting them all. Slow and steady wins the race, am I right? Anyways, we hope you enjoy and benefit from these scientifically proven tips, they can seriously make you more money, and we hope that they do!
- Sell A Bigger Total Bill: We know you are thinking “Well duhhh”, but there is a reason we made this our first Tips for Tips. Learning how to tactfully increase your guest's bill can GREATLY increase your average tips. But there’s a catch… if you are busy, do not try to sell guests on items that will slow table turnover. This will result in fewer tips overall if it costs you an entire table. Ideally, when you are busy you are upselling items like expensive cocktails, desserts to go, etc. But if you aren’t on a wait, then go ahead and sell them on in-house desserts and cocktails.
- Personalize: Be different and stand out AT ALL COST! Whether this means wearing your hair differently, accessorizing, or even wearing a flower in your hair, which according to one study improves tips by 17%. One of the easiest ways to stand out is with your server book or apron; they are easily noticed by your guests and usually won’t break any rules of your workplace.
- Entertain: Be creative with this one while still abiding by the rules, of course. One study in France shows giving a word puzzle or a card with a joke improves tips by as much as 19-22%. Little riddles are also great for this.
- Good Weather is Coming: Researchers tested an idea at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey. The idea is that some customers had the following written on their bills: “The weather is supposed to be really good tomorrow. I hope you enjoy the day!” Those customers who received the note tipped an average of 22.2%, versus 18.8% for those who didn’t. Only forecast good/sunny weather, so check the forecast and if there is a sunny day coming within the next several days then take note and tell your guests about it.
- Use Customer Names: Address your guests by their name as soon as you can, usually, this can only be done after you’ve charged their credit card, but returning the card and saying “thank you, 'name'” has proven to improve tips!
- Give Gifts: At least two studies found that tips increased significantly when customers were given candy just after they finish their meal, which is also right before they decide your tip, nice timing huh ;). There was an even greater increase when customers were spontaneously offered a second piece. The researchers assumed that this would work with other gifts as well, but I say stick with a mint or candy.
- Introduce Yourself by Name: This makes the guest feel they have a more personal relationship with you. And if they feel closer to you, they feel more responsible to tip you higher. Studies show an 8% increase in tips when implementing this strategy.
- The Cheese Touch: While the research shows an increase in tips from touching a guest’s hand or shoulder, this could be annoying or offensive to some. In other words, regardless of what the statistical data shows, you need to pay attention to the responses you get and provide the kind of experience each customer wants. There are actually very specific guidelines for touching guests. Studies suggest touching women during a mixed-sex dining experience, on the shoulder or hand 2 times for .5 seconds without making eye contact. Test with caution, but at least give it a try.
- SMILE:) Yeah you’ve heard this one before, but it is so easy to implement and really can make a difference in your guest's experience. Think of a time when you noticed that someone loved what they were doing and it increased how enjoyable the experience was for you. For me, I think of the dancers at Disney World. They seem like they could not be happier like they are living out their dream when really, they are dancing in a full costume in 98-degree weather. But their happiness and smiles rub off on me, and I enjoy the experience much more. So smile, your guests will likely smile back, in the form of TIPS.
- Just Be Good: Good service means something different to every guest. Some want to be left alone, while others want to be treated like a helpless infant. The real trick is to learn to read your guests. Learning to read people is so crucial in serving, especially when implementing Tips for Tips such as kneeling by guests or touching them, which we will get to in a moment. Being a swift server takes time to learn. Practice carrying heavy trays and drinks so that you can move with confidence through the restaurant, you'll move more quickly, have fewer accidents and happier guests.
- Squat/ Kneel Next to Guest: This one is less concrete than the previous tips. Although it has been shown to improve trust, make you appear more personable, and actually increase tips by 3%, I am a little hesitant to implement this because some guests will be insulted. Some servers can pull it off like a champ, others not so much. So, I would try it for yourself, see the effects, and adjust your tactics from there.
- Better Shifts: While serving as a barback over the past years, I made at least twice as much per hour in tips on weekend shifts vs. weekdays. So, I did what I had to do to get more work on Friday and Saturday. You may already know which shifts are best for tips where you work. If not, ask other employees and experiment with working at different times. If you have any say in the matter, try to work all of the best hours. Yes, weekends will likely be the highest paying shifts, and yes, they are the most painful shifts to work. But that’s just how it is:/
- Girl, ya look good: As shallow as it sounds, improving your physical appearance can get you better tips. Especially for women because men value physical attractiveness more than females (who woulda thought) however, don’t let this one become too important. Do not get absorbed with your appearance, because no matter how you look, if you smile, provide great service, and implement the strategies we’ve listed, your tips will be more than above average.
- Compliment Guest's Food Choices: This is super easy to start doing TODAY. It has shown to increases tips and your manager will like it as well. It also puts guests in a positive mood, similar to smiling.
- ***Controversial Tactic***: Repeat their order back to them. Studies have sort of split on this one. Some have shown great increases in tips while others show decreases, so test it, and see how it works for you. But, we highly suggest testing it, because when this tactic improved tips, it REALLY improved them.
BONUS TACTIC # 1- Hey. I like you: Show the guests that you like them, genuinely. Laugh at their jokes, agree with their perspective, compliment them (carefully), make personal connections with them. A really really good way to make a connection is actually our next Tip for Tips.
BONUS TACTIC # 2- Better Guests: This one is huge and is a great finisher to this list of tactics. You can't always choose your customers or avoid the worst ones, but if you stand out, and be personable, just watch and see if you don’t have guests coming in saying “Can we sit with the girl that has the pink little book?”, or “Can we have the waitress that gives those mints?”. If you can develop a group of regulars who consistently sit with you and build a relationship with them, they will be your highest tipping guests, while also being the easiest to deal with. It’s a real win. So, build a relationship, and stand out.
Well, there you have it. Server Plus really hopes this helps you make better tips. That’s what we are here for, after all, Server Plus is a team of servers determined to bring respect to the hardworking server!