Here in the states, the debate for and against the tipping system in the foodservice industry will always be a point of contention.
But I’m not here to talk about that.
Instead, let’s talk about how to make the best of the system now—like how to make bigger tips.
Here at Tundra Restaurant Supply, many of us have worked in the restaurant industry at one time or another as hosts, servers, managers, chefs and even service technicians. I asked my colleagues to share their advice on earning more tips at the end of the night—here’s what they had to say:
“Perhaps this is just me (I’m a grumpy ex-Ohioan, after all) but a good way to lose part of your tip is to make me ask for a split check when I’m in a big group. I’ve found that servers in certain areas do not ask how you would like your check, which, when I served and bartended, was basically Serving 101. Never assume the table wants everything on one tab!” – Troy
“As a server, you should be intimately familiar with the menu. Not only will it make you look more professional, but it’ll help you upsell items that may go well with whatever the customer might be ordering. Plus, knowing the menu is great when it comes to accommodating people with allergies, dietary restrictions, or other substitution requests.” – Dave
“I liked to keep candies, small toys, etc. in my apron to give kids when they behaved well.” – Reed
“Efficiency is the most important thing in any dining experience. I always did best when I didn’t bullshit, remembered everything, split the check effectively, said things that counted only (even if it’s supposed to be funny), etc. Also, make sure you hit each touch point at the right moments. For example, check back on your table soon after the food is dropped—this is extremely important, probably the most important touch point next to the greeting! And speaking of that greeting, don’t worry if your table isn’t responding to you in your greeting. There are some customers who will ignore you, and in many times these people will not be won over. Instead, simply focus on providing exceptional service in the hopes that they will see that as a reason for a good tip.” – Rachel
“When dropping off the check, make eye contact when you tell your guests that you’ve enjoyed their visit. Eye contact is the important part.” – Russell
“Offer feedback on menu items when asked. Honesty gets tips from me. I really enjoy the server who offers up more than the typical response of ‘It’s good.’ I want to know the truth!” – Shelby
“Avoid set timeframes. Instead of saying, ‘It will be just a minute,’ or giving a specific timeframe, I would say ‘It will be just a few moments’ so as not to create a sense of urgency with the customer.” – Brennan
“Make sure the table and seats are dry. If things aren’t right when the customer first sits down, it can set the mood for the rest of the meal. And when the table and chair or booth is wiped down, be sure to dry it as well. No one likes to sit on a wet chair. Take 2 towels—a wet one to clean with, and a dry one to dry things off.
“Watch drink levels. If I’m drinking ice tea or water, I don’t want to have to search for my server to get a refill.
“Make sure I have my check. When I’m done with my meal, I don’t always want to sit around. Most of the time, when I’m done eating, I’m ready to go. Again, searching for my server so I can pay my bill doesn’t help the tip.” – Robbie
“Record customer orders (and repeat the order as you jot it down) with positions around the table so the food always gets delivered it to the right person.” – Adam
“Good execution is key. Pay attention to your tables and learn how to read each customer—some might want you to visit often while other customers prefer more privacy.
“When pacing courses at your tables, be aware of cook times for each dish. This spares you any issues that could arise with dishes not all arriving at the same time, or overly long waits by hungry customers.
“At the end of the day, you are in the service industry, so provide excellent service. Should issues arise, be humble and take responsibility for your errors. Many customers are more understanding during these situations when you show sincere humility instead of reaching for excuses.” – Chris
“Sell the specials! Study the specials you are offering that day so you can describe them with confidence. (Your chef should be letting servers taste the specials each day so they really know what they’re selling).
“Upsell! Always ask if they want to start with an appetizer/little snack while they peruse the menu. Know your bar’s liquors so you can suggest a whiskey that’s just a smidge more than the house whiskey.
“Know your menu. Be able to answer questions, give suggestions, and don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to something. Just say you don’t know, but can find out!
“I always say, don’t start out right away with telling them your name. They’ll forget! Talk to them first, maybe get a drink order, and THEN say “by the way folks, my name is…and I’ll be taking care of you today…”
“Don’t be afraid to get competitive with other waiters. You can see what tips you made from your POS system when you check out at the end of your shift. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone! (Managers can make this a fun game too!)” – Dot