I was a pizza waitress for a little over a year in a tiny pizza place, and I managed to bring home an average of $50 a day in tips over a 5 hour shift. It’s all about customer service if you want to bring home a decent tip from every table, and here are a few tips to boost your own tips every night if you are a server yourself.
FYI- some of these tips also come in handy if you work at a place that simply has a tip jar.
First of all, greet your customers with a smile. A smile is everything. Love your job, or at least pretend to, and have a sunny attitude straight out of the gates.
Ask your customers where they prefer to be seated if you have availability. Some people like booths, some like tables, etc. Get them comfortable by catering to their preferences and you are off to an awesome start for a good tip.
Bring a high chair or booster seat, crayons, etc without being asked. Bring extra napkins before you even get drink orders. These little accommodations do not go unnoticed by your customers.
If they all order the same drinks (like they all want Sprite) suggest a pitcher if it’s cheaper than regular beverages. Or suggest a 2-liter if you have them available. Let them know that getting a pitcher is cheaper, and bring them out full glasses of their beverage along with a full pitcher. Your customers will notice the free and cheaper perks, and will compensate you with a larger tip for saving them money and being honest about the costs of drinks.
Don’t carry around a lot of change in your apron. If your customers can hear your money jingling, they’ll think you have a lot of tips already and may feel they don’t need to leave you one. Also, keep your earnings in a separate pocket so a dollar bill doesn’t pop out along with your writing pad. If your customers see dough, they will think you don’t need their ample tip. Keep your apron free of visible tips at all times.
Be clear about the orders you get, so everyone knows what is ordered. Repeat the order back to them even if you have it down. A knowledgeable server is a well-tipped server.
Don’t let the drinks get low. Ever. Check on your customers often.
If an order is taking its time, let your customers know, and invite them to enjoy the salad bar on the house, or offer soup if your restaurant allows. It may not be your fault the restaurant is busy, but it does fall back on you. This tactic works especially well for disgruntled customers. I only recommend this if the service is super slow and people are getting really annoyed.
If you see a family grab an extra salad from the salad bar for their infant or small child, let it go. It’s only crackers and carrot sticks. Sure, they’re abusing the privilege and not paying for it, but is it worth the argument when the bill comes?
Remember repeat customers by name and preference of table. My best tippers were always the repeats.
Don’t dawdle on your orders. Get them in, get them ready, and hound those cooks. Help out if it’s something small. Timely service is everything.
Have a clean appearance. Dirty nails and hair in your face quickly diminish a good tip. A clean apron helps, too. Wipe it down often to get the cleaning and flour stains off of it.
If your busy with another table and one of your other customers is addressing you, look at them and smile and tell them you’ll be right with them. Even if people are rude and you’re obviously busy, don’t ignore your customers.
Always look busy. A bored-looking server is a lazy-looking server. If you’re out in the public area, you better be wiping windows or tables or organizing menus, not just standing there. Your customers will notice, and may decide you don’t deserve tipping because you’re not working hard enough. On the other hand, a super busy looking yet attentive server may get more tips because they just look awesome at what they do. Appearance is often everything.
If an order is wrong, take it out to the table anyway with your apologies and that you’ve already told the cook to correct it and this meal/appetizer is on the house if they’re willing to wait. Apologize again and make sure everything is alright otherwise.
If you’re walking by your tables and any customers catch your eye, even if you don’t have time to stop, smile and stop by as soon as you are able. Don’t just overlook them.
When bringing to-go boxes, box the food yourself in the back if your customers prefer it. If they want to box it themselves, let them.
Take the ticket to your guests when they’re about halfway through with their meal. When they say they don’t need anything else, that’s your cue. Also, write a thank you note with your name on it, or a smiley face on the ticket to make the experience personal to them. Don’t make them wait for a bill, or even worse, don’t make them ask you for one.
When you see the credit card on the table to pay, or the cash on the table, take the payment up right away and get them that receipt. The longer they have to wait, the more your tip goes down.
Once again, before your customers leave, ask them if they need anything else at all. Even if they’re all packed up and ready to go, your checking on them again will leave a mark and possibly a generous tip. Always thank them for coming in.
Remember, don’t ever expect or ask for a tip- ever. It is up to the customer to leave one if they want to. A tip is a bonus, not an expectation. Don’t walk around with your hands out.
While not all people will tip, your tips do go up if you go above and beyond your service. There have been times that even my best service resulted in just $.02 left on the table, but at least I knew that I gave excellent service, which should be enough reward for anyone. Do your best, be attentive, and you may be well-rewarded in tips at the end of the night.