Time is money. That’s true whether you’re selling stocks or slinging hors d’oeuvres at a tapas bar. Your livelihood depends on how quickly and efficiently you can move tables and turn tickets. However, there are a few insider secrets you can use to score higher tips without killing yourself.
In fact, many of these tips involve small service adjustments that take little-to-no effort and are proven to drive gratuities. After all, the real difference between a good restaurant server and a great one is knowing how to work smarter, not harder. Here are six proven ways to get there.
“Hello, my name is”
Michael Lynn, a researcher at Cornell University who gets paid to figure out the psychology behind tipping, has found that customers tip an average 53% higher to restaurant servers who introduce themselves by name. Say it with a smile and the gains could be even greater- smiling results in an average of 140% increase in tips.
Just Say No to One-Tripping
The best restaurant servers have turned economy of movement into a kind of art form. That means they don’t go to the kitchen to grab that extra side salad a customer asked about, then head straight back to the table with it — a phenomenon known as “one-tripping.”
Instead, they stop off at the server station and grab drinks for the next table (plus a pitcher of water to freshen up everyone else). While there, they ring orders for the two-top that just decided on their meal, then make their way to the kitchen, where they load up some extra bread for their neighbors in table 3 while their food is firing, and then fetch that side salad. In other words, they make every trip count.
Repeat Customer Orders
Customers are more likely to leave higher tips to restaurant servers who repeat their orders back to them. Psychologists explain the phenomena like this: people like to be around other people who are similar to them. Or it may just be that this way, the customer knows you’ve at least written their order down correctly. Either way, it’s a surefire bet to drive up gratuities.
Sell Big, or Go Home
Turn more tables or upsell? It’s the classic restaurant server’s dilemma. Since tips vary from customer to customer, there’s only one guaranteed path to higher tips: sell more items.
Historically, that’s meant upselling: selling the small extras like appetizers, drinks, and desserts. But that only works when service is slow — otherwise, you’re just exchanging low-dollar desserts and appetizers for high-dollar entrees. The golden rule to make more is: sell for table volume when it’s busy and bill volume when it’s not.
Live to Entertain
How do you get to be a good server? Practice, practice, practice. Our groan-inducing take on the old Carnegie hall joke aside, a good knee-slapper can go a long way to win over your tables. In surveys, customers increased tips by 7% when the waiter told a joke.
With the plethora of delivery services and grocery apps out there, customers can get quality food anytime. They come to restaurants for the experience. By entertaining, you sell that experience, and you give them something to talk about on the way home. Just make sure you’re better at comedy than we are — or steal one of these classic one-liners if you’re not.
Use One of These Offbeat Suggestions
People are fickle, and tipping behavior depends vastly on personal preferences, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. However, researchers have discovered a couple of oddball ways to earn higher tips.
You could wear something in your hair, like a flower or barrette, you can deliver their rice pilaf in a heart shape or draw a sun on their check, or tell them the weather forecast.
Even if it doesn’t result in higher earnings for you, you’ll certainly liven up dinner service for everyone else. And that’s almost as good as a higher tip, right?