Relying on tips to make ends meet can be frustrating, but it’s a reality for waiters and waitresses across the country. There is no simple explanation for why people tip the way they do. Fortunately, there are several things that are proven to encourage people to tip more than usual.
“If I’m leaving extra large tip in a restaurant, it’s because the server has exceeded my expectations in one way or another. It could be helping me reach a decision over what to order, cleaning up an unexpected spill, or giving an opinion on other attractions/restaurants to try in the area, etc. A good, personable server helps make the whole dining experience enjoyable, and I always try to reward this with an extra large tip.” says Linda Smith from burlap+blue.
“I worked for years in the food and beverage industry as a waitress and bartender, so I always tip the default 15-20%. The thing that makes me tip extra is a level of attention to detail and customer service that goes beyond the basics,” explained Jana Dziak, operator of The Peasant’s Daughter, a food-focused blog. “Anyone can be polite and professional. Anyone can bring you a glass of water without being asked when you sit down.”
Going beyond the basics, or “the extra mile”, is a common reason many customers will leave a larger than usual tip. Mike James, Sales Manager at Coffeeble, believes that going the extra mile for customers includes:
- Fortitude with a smile in the face of a door rush of customers or patrons with poor manners.
- Endurance and speed when there’s a busy shift or an obviously and severely understaffed one.
- Magnetic people skills. Charisma is really all it takes to level up in life. If a [person has] it, help her use it to better her job situation.
“These are people after all. People with ambitions and dreams like I had,” James added. “Tipping might help that worker bee attain their dream. I’m all in for paying that forward.”
Here are seven things that servers can do to encourage patrons to tip more when dining out.
1. Introduce Yourself ASAP
Even in the middle of a rush, it makes a big difference to the customer when the server makes a conscious effort to greet them immediately. Customers who are welcomed and told they will be serviced momentarily feel seen and heard. Servers are significantly more likely to receive a higher tip when they greet their tables and introduce themselves, even if they aren’t able to take their order just yet.
2. Connect with Your Customers
In this Forbes article, Laura Shin reveals that establishing a connection with customers is a great way to get better tips. While not all customers will want to engage in a conversation with their server, those that do are far more likely to leave a bigger tip for a server that is friendly and conversational. If you feel comfortable, try calling your customer by their name. Respectfully calling patrons by their name establishes a more personal connection. Finding a way to connect to your customers on a more personal level encourages them to leave a larger tip.
3. Compliment the Customer’s Food Selections
Who doesn’t love to hear that they’ve made a good choice? If you notice that one of your customers orders a dish that you enjoy or have heard good things about, a simple “great choice!” can instantly boost your chances of getting a good tip.
4. Upsell with Genuity
Servers often use upselling as a strategy to make more money, but upselling successfully requires you to be genuine. Rather than simply asking your patrons if they’d like to add a certain dish to their order, use a friendlier, inquisitive approach. Make suggestions based on the connection you’ve established with your customers.
5. Avoid Making Your Customers Feel Rushed
The more tables you get, the more money you make, but you want to avoid rushing your guests. Work as quickly as possible to make sure their needs are met and check in on them intermittently but try not to make them feel a burden. Customers who feel at ease to enjoy their meal are more likely to compensate you for your time and effort with a larger tip.
6. Read the Room
As a server, your approach should vary depending on the customer. A customer dining alone while reading a book may not be as interested in conversation as a group of friends dining together. A middle-aged couple may not need as much assistance as a family with several children. When you greet your customers, try to get an idea of what type of dining experience they are looking for, then do your best to be what they need.
7. Leave A Note on the Receipt
Whether it’s a simple thank you or a happy face doodle, receipts with a personal note correlate to bigger tips. It takes little or no time to add a personal touch to your receipts before you bring them to your tables, but it can make a significant difference in terms of how much money you bring home at the end of your shift.