Tips can be our lifeblood as servers. A good night and a bad night may look very similar, and it all just depends on the customer. But then there are those coworkers of ours who just seem to always rake it in. So what’s missing? In reality, there are one or two quick fixes that we can all make that can turn almost every night into a good one.
Serving is about creating an experience for customers, and by and large, there’s a certain type of experience that every customer will naturally want to tip better: the hardworking server that makes them feel important. But that doesn’t mean just buttering them up with compliments.
If you can follow this guide for serving, you’re sure to woo customers into some of your best tips ever. Check out the advice below and incorporate it into your next shift! You’ll be amazed at how a few simple changes can work wonders.
Know Your Menu
Knowing your menu makes you the ultimate guide right from the very start of your customers’ experience. Undoubtedly in this day and age, at least one person is going to have dietary restrictions, another is going to be extremely picky, and the third will have their heart set on a meal that you just ran out of.
If you know your menu well enough, none of these issues will trip you up. You’ll always have a recommendation at hand, rather than ever having to respond with, “I’m sorry, we don’t/can’t…” It’s going to automatically give your customers a more positive impression of you and the restaurant, and their overall experience.
Etiquette is what takes a customer’s time at your restaurant from “grabbing dinner” to “a dining experience. That starts before a customer ever gets to your table. As great server who gets great tips, you need to give off the impression that you’re at the top of your game. That will often mean giving off the perception that you’re the lifeblood of your restaurant.
When a customer walks in, you’re greeting them, helping them get where they need to go, or simply being as accommodating as possible. If they need their jacket taken, but they’re not “your table,” it shouldn’t matter: you do it. If you have the kind of attitude that says you love to help, and you love your job, that will rub off on the entire restaurant.
And from knowing how to properly open and display wine, to knowing which customer’s order to take first, etiquette will help you to be more presentable, efficient, and on top of your tasks. And it won’t go unnoticed.
Never Let Yourself Be Called Over
Always anticipate your guests’ needs before they have to ask. From being able to replenish their glasses before the last sip, to bringing over missing pre-sets, you’re going to have to always be on top of it if you really want to stand out.
The best way to think about it is having a goal of never being “needed” by your customers. That is, if you have to be called over, you’re probably not doing your best. Think in terms of common sense: if someone orders a burger, they’ll probably want ketchup. If they ordered a steak, make sure there’s A1 close by (without offending them, or suggesting that the steak needs it).
When it gets to be dessert time, don’t rush them—just leave a menu at the table. While it’s great to be attentive, checking in too much can give off the perception that you’re rushing them, or that you’re unaware and simply interrupting their evening.
As charming as you may be, they did not come to the restaurant to spend time with you. Make sure that you’re always aware of a customers’ needs, but don’t try to be a part of their meal.
Never Forget a Regular
Having regulars is one of the most quintessential parts of being a great server. If you’ve got a healthy amount of regulars, it means you’re doing your job well and people like coming for your service. That comes with some responsibilities:
If you want a great tip, never forget your regulars. If you think some first time customers really enjoyed themselves, write down their orders after the meal in a small notebook. Study it after your shift, and that way it won’t be so hard to draw on next time they come around.
If you can create an experience for a regular where they don’t even have to order, you’re giving them the kind of service that makes them feel like a true VIP. That kind of feeling will always encourage a better tip, and it’s the above-and-beyond attitude that marks a truly great serve.
Finally, the most common sense approach to making great tips is simply this: upsell. Set a goal for how much you want each person at a table to spend, and make sure that you get them there. For a date, $50 per person is just a few drinks and a shared dessert away—and you’ve got yourself a $100 bill. For families, it may mean sharing several appetizers and encouraging Dad to go for the filet.
Don’t be afraid to make suggestions that are in line with a customer’s interests, especially if it costs a little extra. They came for the best dining experience, and if you can help provide it, it’s going to work just as well for them as it is for you.