server tips and tricks

A good restaurant server does more than just take food orders. They take the time to improve their guests’ dining experience, while also keeping an eye on their wallet. You may have already been implementing some server tips and tricks to up your serving game. Are you ready for the next level?

Here are 5 server tips you can use to become a good server and make more money.

 1- Good servers practice good tableside manner

Practicing friendly tableside manner goes a long way towards being a good server and increasing your tips. A little etiquette goes a long way. When you arrive at the table, start with a hello and introduce yourself, while making eye contact. If the guests offer their names in return, remember them and use them throughout the meal. And always repeat the orders exactly to show your guests that you’re a good server who listens.

2- Good servers know the menu inside out

Guests expect servers to be familiar with the restaurant menu. They don’t want to wait while you leave the table to find an answer to their questions. So take time to become an expert on your restaurant’s menu. Know dishes’ ingredients (especially common allergens), and how they are prepared. Sample as many items on the menu as you can, and keep a few favorites in mind in case you’re asked. Guests will appreciate your recommendations and remember your expertise when it’s time to leave the tip.

3- Good servers are drink and wine experts

Learn as much as you can from the bartender about what good wines, cocktails, or even sour beers pair well with what dishes. Also acquaint yourself with special seasonal drinks or wine pairings to offer your guests at certain times of the year. Memorize a few suggestions a week, and you’ll know more than many other servers. And most importantly, your guests will appreciate you for elevating their dining experience – which will be reflected in your wallet.

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4- Good servers are always upselling

It makes sense that the higher the check, the bigger the tip. So, sell a bigger bill. Always offer your guests appetizers, drinks, and desserts. Suggest an item to pair with the guests’ meals such as a nice wine. Or, offer to make a steak meal into “surf and turf” with a side of shrimp or crab. And instead of asking “do you have room for dessert?” say, “let me bring you the dessert menu.” And even if they turn down dessert, offer an after-dinner coffee as an alternative.

  5- Good servers inspire reciprocity

It’s a proven psychological norm that when people receive something, they are inclined to respond in like manner. Good servers can use a few simple techniques to trigger reciprocity in their guests. Even writing “Thank you” written on the back of the check with a mint can entice guests to leave higher tips. And make them aware of the restaurant’s loyalty program, if there is one, to save them money on repeat visits. Guests will feel that you did them a favor, and will respond with more generosity in return.

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As a professional copywriter, Dan typically spends his days buried in a booth at a local coffee shop. Ideas flow best with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other. Dan has written for Entrepreneur Magazine,, and other media publications.