While it is true that most wait staff (waiters, waitresses, servers or waitrons) has lower hourly-wages than other workers, many trained waiters and waitresses actually earn more than the average American worker. A trained wait staff who knows the trade often receive larger tips, which, when calculated, amounts as much as $5 to $12 per hour.
In most countries, proper etiquette requires a diner to tip at least 10 percent of his total bill. Ten percent, IF they are satisfied with the service that was rendered to them. The challenge posted to you now, is how to make sure that customers are happy and satisfied with your service, thus ensuring yourself a tip and the possibility that the tip is more than the ten percent rule.
Here are effective ways to increase your tips in the restaurant business. First, let’s start with the three basics:
Basic Rule No. 1: Be knowledgeable about your job. Have the proper training. No matter how smiling, pleasant and polite you are, if you do not know the proper way to load and unload your tray, or learn the correct manner in taking and filing orders, your customers will not take the extra mile in giving or increasing your tip. Even the proper folding of table napkins matter. Learn as much as possible about the business that you are in.
Basic Rule No. 2: Smile and be pleasant. And being pleasant is not just about smiling. It includes a sincerely cheerful tone of voice, a positive facial expression and a sunny, confident disposition. Your customer can detect negative body languages from you, and they will sense a fake smile or tone when they see one.
Basic Rule No. 3: Build a personal connection with your guest. Eye contact, for one, is a good way of doing this. Introduce yourself to your guest, and if you know their name, calling them by that can be an effective way to build rapport. Make them feel special – little gestures like laying out the table napkin on their lap, or knowing what they regularly order matters to them. These make them feel that you’re not only interested in the business they give you (and their money) but that you’re also interested in them as a person.
Having established the basics of effective ways to increase your tips in the restaurant business, now let’s move to the special measures you can take to motivate your guests into giving more tips:
Sell, sell, up sell. Remember that your customers’ basis in giving out tips is a certain percentage of their bill size – ranging from 10% to as much as 20%. So increase their bill! If you have demonstrated the basic skills to win them over (Basic Rules No. 1, 2 and 3), it will be easier for you to recommend other menu items like desserts, wine and expensive entrée selections. Needless to say, this also boosts the restaurant’s income and keeps the bosses happy.
Wear something unique from the rest. If your managers allow it, personalize your appearance. Or suggest to the bosses that distinguishing your appearances (waiters wearing special hats, waitresses wearing flowers or ribbons on their hair) allow customers to see you as a person rather than a faceless employee in the restaurant. Restaurant managers are supportive of these endeavors as they always encourage bigger tips for waiters. Bigger tips is a clear sign that customers were happy with their dining experience (although not the sole basis for customer satisfaction), and it also lessens wait staff turn-over in the establishment.
Lighten your customers’ mood. If the weather is gloomy outside and the news predicted a finer weather the following day, you can forecast a good weather. Forecasting a better weather livens up the mood of your customers. “The weather could really be good tomorrow. Enjoy your day!” Research shows that customers in their best moods give higher tips.
Entertaining your customers also does the trick. A restaurant case study on tips (Michael Lynn, Cornell University. December 2003) cited an example of a bar which distributes cards to their customers with jokes on it and showed a significant increase in their tips percentage. Even simple brain teasers that are placed beside their table napkins are effective means of entertaining the guests. More often than not, the customers recognize the effort and very well appreciate it.
There are other tricks of the trade that has come up, like giving your guests candy, drawing happy faces on the bill, writing thank you on the check, and many others. But the above list, we’re guessing, are the most effective ways to increase your tips in the restaurant business. So go for it, put all these into practice and realize that the sky’s your limit if you master all these tipping tips.