How to get better tips

Waiters, baristas, and counter clerks know: serving is demanding work, and customers don't always make it easier. But simple habits can set the stage for better experiences, and better experiences mean better tips. The benefits of this list are that the items are small, easy to learn, and will not add a lot of extra drag time to each shift/table. They're fast to implement.

Provide lemon for their water. A simple addition can speak in volumes. Presentation is everything and customers will appreciate that extra care taken when they see it. Plus, it hides any possible ugly tastes or smells from that tap water you are providing. MMmm, lemon-water for the win!

Check to make sure everything is okay from time to time and use this opportunity to refill their glass with water. In the case of other drinks; like coffee or tea, ask them if they would like more.

Be clean: clothing, hands etc. Do not smoke cigarettes during work. No matter what or how much you try to take care of that ugly breath it will not go away that quickly.

Do not take objects from their table without permission to serve another table. This behaviour suggests that they are not that important. Simply ask to borrow the item for a few minutes and promise to bring it right back. If the restaurant doesn't have some of these items in extra, this is the least one can do. People will appreciate honesty and they should acknowledge your situation. Besides everyone is there to enjoy themselves - they will not be disappointed if their salt is missing for a few minutes.

Be clear on what is part of the menu or dish they are getting. More detail never hurts and if anything, it builds a good rapport since you are taking the time to explain what they will be eating. If they are not sure about the amount of food they may be getting, suggest that you can check back with them again later. Suggest possible monetary savings if they were to mix up or replace certain items.

Cleanup anything from the table that the customer may no longer need. Ask for any questionable items. If a plate with a little bit of food (or especially if there is a napkin on the plate) is sitting around while they chit-chat, then ask if they would like you to take it away.

Ask if there is a particular food group they may me interested in eating and follow with some of the choices verbally. Customers don't always need to follow the menu. They will respect and appreciate your suggestion over the menu. This is also a good time to suggest something that you've tried yourself; especially if its within the food group or choice they are interested in. This helps them to be reassured that what they are getting is worthy. You are the only reliable source there, use it to build trust and break the server-client relationship. It is a human to human interaction after all and we are all the same at the end of the day.

Be informed about allergy reactions to certain food items. Understand the difference between vegan and vegetarian food. Look knowledgeable in the case of similar questions. Know what is inside your own food and how it is prepared.

Ask about the amount of salt, sugar, spice or the way they would like their food to be cooked. Offering the possibility that their food is being prepared for them in a custom fashion shows that what they are about to eat is done just for them; the way they like it.

Allow their leftover food to be taken out. The restaurant has no use (!) keeping their leftovers any way, and no one wants to waste food. Placing their food in a container scores good points because they may have a number of reasons to take it along with them. After all, they are paying for it and the food doesn't have to be bound to the restaurant.

Smile! I know its hard and can feel fake but it goes a long way to make people feel comfortable, and can even improve your mood and outlook. If you are happy, then that will radiate over to your customers.

Thank the customers for coming into your restaurant and invite them to come back again.

I hope this helps and I would like to know if there are more universal practices out there. Drop a line if you know any.

Happy serving!



3 interactions

Trevor’s photoTrevor replied on

The quantity of tips you take home at the end of your shift is at least partially a function of the number of clients you can push through your section.

Get set up to succeed by always being ready for the next table. Have things set up ahead of time as much as possible. Help them decide by emphasizing how good the special is. Refill their water without being asked so they aren't sitting there trying to get your attention instead of eating.

Give them something, some inside info on the food or make them feel like they are getting preferential treatment. People feel obligated to reciprocate when they are given something. The only way they can reciprocate with you is via tips.


Moff’s photoMoff replied on

Get to know your customer's correct name and use it, especially if they have a title such as Doctor or Sir.

Look for body lanuage clues/cues to help you do your job. If someone at a table of say 9-10 people is not talking to others at the table, try to ask them specifically how they enjoyed x,y or z (note: not "if" they enjoyed"). Sometimes all it takes is a little reach out to someone and they are all of a sudden enjoying their time.

Frame all things about the experience as positive. Don't ask "is it ok?" because you know it is, ask "is it prepared to your liking".