server giving guest food

While serving is sometimes viewed as not a “real” job (usually by people who have never worked in the restaurant industry), the opposite is true. The gig has a reputation for being temporary, but there are plenty of people who make a career out of it and do well for themselves. There just as many who put themselves through school by serving—and we all know how expensive college is these days, which clearly shows that the earning potential of serving jobs is no joke.

While working for tips can sometimes be frustrating, overall the amount you make is largely in your control since there are proven things you can do to earn more.

The key to a lucrative serving career is figuring out how to make the best tips possible, and here’s how to do it.

Establish Connections With Your Customers

According to a Forbes article by Laura Shin, crafting a connection with your customers is one way to get better tips. “If servers can establish a social connection with their customers, they’ll get better tips,” explained Michael Lynn, a professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration who specializes in studying tips. He continued to note that people are more likely to want to help someone they’re connected to.

Speak Up

Old tricks like introducing yourself and reading orders back to customers can go a long way. A restaurant in California found that tips increased by 56% for servers who introduced themselves when greeting their tables. Studies in Holland found that repeating an order back was associated with higher tipping rates in general, but higher tipped amounts as well. Severs who repeated orders enjoyed tip amounts that were close to double that of servers who didn’t repeat the order.

server giving guest food

You can control the conversation and change the way guest communication is handled with proper staff training.

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Upsell

Tipping is based on the amount of the check, so the higher you drive up the ticket price, the higher your tip will naturally be. Offer your guests beverage options that they can choose from in addition to water and offer coffee after a meal. Don’t forget to mention dessert and let your customers know all of the options you have for sides, giving them the chance to opt for something at a higher price point.

Tips increased by 56% for servers who introduced themselves when greeting their tables.Click To Tweet

However, there’s an important caveat. “When it’s busy,” explains a Penny Hoarder article by Steve Gillman, “you’ll make more time income with faster customer turnover.” Because entrées are the most expensive part of the dining process, the faster you can turn tables over to seat more customers who are ready to order entrées, the more money you’ll make at the end of the night.

Write On The Receipt

Whether it’s a thank you or a random drawing of a flower, receipts with a personal touch written on them correlate to higher tips. The Penny Hoarder explains that studies have shown that “a happy face or picture of the sun on the customer’s bill resulted in bigger tips.” Forbes noted an experiment at a restaurant in Philadelphia that found that receipts with a “thank you” written on them averaged tips in the 18% range while those that didn’t land closer to the 16% mark.

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Cinnamon hails from the prairie lands of North Dakota, has been told that she thinks too much, and possesses an enthusiasm for enthusiasm. In a previous life, she paid the bills by serving and bartending throughout college and graduate school. She currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Latin America with her dog, Gus, at her side.

  • Springs131

    “Write On The Receipt Whether it’s a thank you or a random drawing of a flower, receipts with a personal touch written on them correlate to higher tips. The Penny Hoarder explains that studies have shown that “a happy face or picture of the sun on the customer’s bill resulted in bigger tips.” Forbes noted an experiment at a restaurant in Philadelphia that found that receipts with a “thank you” written on them averaged tips in the 18% range while those that didn’t land closer to the 16% mark.”

    This is SOOOO NOT TRUE! I don’t care what studies have shown. Wasting time for the customer that they are WAITING to pay and leave is NOT going to make them happy. I TOTALLY 100% DISAGREE! Also, if you give bad service, WHY in the world would I care if you drew something on the check? Also, if I have an overcharge, why would I see that you cared about our money when you had time to be SELFISH to think of YOURSELF OVER US?

    Drawing things and writing things on the check DOES NOT increase tips. If people have to wait to leave, they aren’t going to appreciate you taking up their time to write crap that doesn’t mean anything all because it’s to increase your tip and NOT because you really mean it. It’s basically asking for a tip WITHOUT actually asking in a way, it is. You don’t do it because you mean it, you do it, because you want a bigger tip.

    I think the only thing that might get bigger tips is if you have good service AND only a “THANK YOU” is written on the check or with the server’s name, THAT’S IT! Drawing things is WASTING TIME. WHY would you want to hold up your table you could have next?

    Also, if you get my order wrong or check wrong, but you had time to write or draw on our check, I am going to take off MUCH MORE TIP POINTS, because you decided your money was the ONLY THING you CARED ABOUT! You were too lazy to do your job and doodling is NOT part of your job. Your job is to SERVE, NOT to doodle on the check to WASTE TIME. Heck, you could be giving another table some refills instead of doodling. Seriously, you are affecting your tips in ***OTHER WAYS** you don’t realize by giving not as efficient service to other customers to worry about playing around. That’s stupid. Why not just DO YOUR JOB TO SERVE? As I said, if you want to write something “Thank you” is all that should be written and maybe your name, that’s it. Taking time to draw is WASTING TIME! If I were a server, I wouldn’t write or draw ANYTHING simply because I would NOT EVER have the TIME to do that. I would rather get my customer’s refills faster, check faster, food faster, etc. That’s my goal of giving good service. Wasting time is NOT good service. If you literally have no customers and it’s the start of the day with literally nothing to clean or do, I still would make sure I would doodle or write on the check BEFORE they asked for it assuming they won’t get something else at the end. I would NOT delay my customers from being able to pay and leave. THAT IS SURE THE HECK NOT GOOD SERVICE!!

    “UpsellTipping is based on the amount of the check, so the higher you drive up the ticket price, the higher your tip will naturally be. Offer your guests beverage options that they can choose from in addition to water and offer coffee after a meal. Don’t forget to mention dessert and let your customers know all of the options you have for sides, giving them the chance to opt for something at a higher price point.”

    I have to 100% TOTALLY DISAGREE with you on this, here’s why:

    1. If you try to upsell me something AFTER I told you what I wanted, that’s IRRITATING to have to correct you on what I want. Upselling should be done BEFORE I tell you what I want. Trying to change my order WILL MAKE THE TIP GO DOWN HUGELY! If I know what **I** want for **MY** tip money, I should be able to decide since I am **PAYING YOU** to make me happy, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

    2. If you ask me about dessert after I told you we wanted our check, you will get a LOWERED TIP for not *****LISTENING******** to me. DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE SOMEONE’S MIND on something.

    3. Upselling after you ask them about dessert if they say “no” to it, don’t do like I remember one waitress did to me and my husband say “Come on, you got it last time”, I mean really, that’s just wrong and very irritating.

    4. NOBODY if they already know what they want to order wants to hear about the specials and any upsells, especially if they are not interested in the items that they are trying to upsell. I remember once at a restaurant some manager came to greet us since the waitress we were supposed to have had a spill, so she tried to upsell us on “Peach Bellini’s” which neither one of us likes peach flavored anything, so it’s WASTING TIME for the customer so in actuality it’s NOT good service. Good service is ASKING as some servers actually at that same restaurant have asked us if we wanted to hear the specials and we always have said “NO.”

    5. Just because the check amount is higher doesn’t mean the customers will tip more. They might decide that they spent so much on food and drinks, they will not have that much to tip with, even if it’s with a credit card, they might go 15% rather than 20% even with good service. So the amount of the check doesn’t mean necessarily you will get a better tip. Also, if they have a gift card, they might not have much cash on them enough for a larger tip if they use up their gift card or cannot add gratuity to the gift card.

    6. If you do a bad job, it doesn’t matter how much the check is. The tip will be for what you DESERVE and EARNED! Also, if you apologized to for the mistakes, how you handled them, and the magnitude of the mistake or mistakes. If it’s forgetting to put in an order, that’s a huge mistake, forgetting a straw is a very small mistake. Get what I am saying here? You aren’t going to get a bad tip for forgetting a straw, but you probably will get one for forgetting to put in an order no matter what you upselled. So upselling doesn’t always lead to a larger tip. This is HUGELY FALSE!

    “you’ll make more time income with faster customer turnover. the faster you can turn tables over to seat more customers who are ready to order entrées, the more money you’ll make at the end of the night.”

    You are CONTRADICTING YOURSELF HERE by saying the faster customer turnover with more time income, well if you upsell, you are NOT LETTING the customer order faster, therefore, you cannot turn over the table faster. It’s just COMMON SENSE if they are ready to order, they will turn over the table faster most likely as they will be FINISHED faster.

    So upselling is NOT a good thing as I mentioned above how we are ready to order, but are telling me about specials or items you want to upsell. The longer you take to not shut up, the longer we wait to order, the LONGER we wait for our food, the LONGER we sit there, and the LONGER you cannot turn over that table to the next set of customers. So this is actually a HUGE CONTRADICTION! I cannot stand the upselling. It’s taking up extra time. I usually in general have an idea or actually know what I am going to order BEFORE I even get seated, so taking up time to tell me about things we are not interested in is not going to help you make more money, because you are keeping us there longer we cannot order or cannot read the menu because you are talking to us about specials and/or upselling items.

    This is the TRUTH and you know it!

    “Servers who repeated orders enjoyed tip amounts that were close to double that of servers who didn’t repeat the order.”

    If they don’t get the order right, it sure doesn’t matter if they read the order back to me. NOBODY tips based on this at all. They tip well because the order was served OBVIOUSLY correct to the table such as correct items, nothing missing, obvious items prepared properly(such as if someone ordered no bbq sauce on ribs and then when their server brought the ribs out the ribs did not have the bbq sauce as requested which is something that you don’t have to touch to notice if it’s correct or not BEFORE leaving the kitchen).

    The tip is based on getting things CORRECTLY and QUICKLY(as far as no courses are not clumped together) as they can. The tip is not based on if our server repeated our orders. I think it’s a VERY GOOD thing to repeat orders to make sure your customer wants what the server hears or thinks they heard, but that doesn’t guarantee the food will be right as far as anything wrong or missing that the server could notice without touching the food if they bring out your food or if it’s condiments, that those condiments can be brought out ahead of time regardless of who brings your food out to you.

    We don’t base our tip on repeating orders. We base it on how correct and quickly things came. Did we have to wait 15 minutes for our check or refills? Did the server check up on us when we had problems? Did they apologize when they made a mistake? Did they make mistakes? If so, what magnitude? How did they handle large mistakes? Did they blame the kitchen for something they could control(such as a missing side dish when THEY brought out your food)?

    Nobody bases their tip on repeating orders. That’s just BS!

    “Old tricks like introducing yourself ”

    Not everyone cares about this really. In fact, so many servers on the internet complain about when they ask how the customers are doing and they respond with “coke.” Most people that go to a restaurant actually want to get things started. This is another thing as far as the contradiction about turning your tables over. The longer you take to greet your table, the LONGER the customer waits for their food, the LONGER they sit and you don’t get your next customers. So some people obviously that servers complain about this issue that they don’t answering with how they are doing actually aren’t tipping based on introducing, are they? They are basing their tip on how LONG they have to wait for their drinks and food to not waste one second worth of it even. Think about it…

  • Springs131

    “How To Make More Money As A Server Than You Ever Thought You Could”

    Read my blog to see my restaurant pet peeves and you will see how you can make more money if you avoid doing these pet peeves:

    http://restaurantservicepetpeeves.blogspot.com/