4 Tips for Earning Better Tips at Your Restaurant Job

By Tamiera Vandegrift on December 14, 2017

Being a waiter or a waitress is tough.Not only are you standing for several hours during each shift, have to remember which customer ordered what and which table requested what, put up with sometimes nasty customers, and ultimately go home at the end of every shift reeking of grease and sweat, but you often only make a little over $2.00 per hour doing so.

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Truth be told, the majority of a server’s salary DOES in fact come from tips. Earning tips is a whole other can of worms, but it’s a can of worms that this article will help you work with. Keep reading for the best tips for earning more tips!

The Name Game

What’s in a name? In the food industry, a whole lot! A study in southern California revealed that waiters and waitresses who introduced themselves by name earned an average of 23% in tips, while servers who didn’t earned only 15%. Giving customers your name makes you seem especially friendly and personable. However, you shouldn’t just mumble your name and get right to business. Greet your table with a wide smile and good energy. Remember that they’re all just people in need of a bite to eat along with some good vibes. Smiling can almost guarantee larger tips.

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On the flip side, try to get your customers’ names too. At the end of the meal, when they hand over their credit cards, take a look at their name. When you come back to the table to return their credit cards, thank them by name, i.e. “Thank you for coming out today, Mr. Smith” or “Thank you for joining us, Ms. Evans.” This will show your customers that you appreciated their patronage and their company – guaranteeing larger numbers behind that dollar sign.

Look the Part

When you’re looking your best, you’re feeling your best. Coming to work groomed, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed will show your customers that you’re happy to be there and maybe even happy to see them. Make sure that your hair is combed, neat, and even. Check the mirror before you leave to make sure any and all facial hair is clean and slightly. Make sure that your uniform is clean and ironed. Most of all, wear whatever makes you feel good and confident. If you feel nicer wearing a headband, a barrette, or a flower, go for it! (Psst… According to Psychology Today, female servers who wear something in their hair tend to receive higher tips)

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Let’s just address the rather large elephant in the room. As shallow as it sounds, customers tend to respond better to waiters and waitresses that have put an effort into their appearance. After all, doing so shows that you have respect for your establishment and your customers. Working is exhausting, especially if you’re working alongside a full load of classes, but a little eyeliner or a trimmed, even beard could make the difference between a 15% tip and a 25% tip.

Be the Best of the Best

It might go without saying but really, the best service will earn the best tip. With every table, do your best to give your 100% with each greeting and each order. Give your customers a warm welcome with a warmhearted and kind smile. Suggest your own personal recommendations if you notice that customers are having a hard time picking from the menu. Be sure to inform them of any and all specials and deals that are taking place that day. You never know; they could have missed it when they walked through the front door. Once the customer orders, be sure to repeat the order back to them so that they know you’re paying attention. Even though your customers might not have any immediate needs, keep checking on them periodically during the duration of their stay. Refill drinks before they’re entirely empty, without being asked.

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Also, be sure to get a good reading of your customers. This is the tricky part, but you will improve with lots of practice. Some customers want to be friendly, others prefer to be left alone for most of the time. Some customers will want as much attention and pampering as you can give, others are just satisfied with the bare minimum. With time and practice, you will be able to tell the difference. The faster you learn, the faster you’ll see those numbers on the bill get bigger.

Have Fun with It

Being a waiter or waitress is tough, but that doesn’t mean it has to be miserable! You are absolutely free to have fun with your job and if you do, your customers will have fun along with you. When you hand back the check, draw a smiley face or leave a kind message for your customers. While you’re serving tables, think of a fun riddle or joke to leave your table with while you’re off to get their food or help out another table. The fact is that the more memorable you are, the more likely you are to be given a better tip!

While you’re at work, experiment with these tips and see what works and what doesn’t. There is nothing to lose, but so much to gain. Good luck!

Tamiera is an alumna of Florida State University, having earned a BA in Editing, Writing & Media and a BA in Digital Media Production. Tamiera is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter, inspired by the works of Lars von Trier, David Fincher, and Darren Aronofsky. Tamiera has previously written for the FSView and Florida Flambeau, College Magazine, and more. She has recently published a creative thesis containing short stories based on mental illnesses in the media. In the future, Tamiera aspires to win "Best Original Screenplay" or "Best Picture" at the Academy Awards with one of her film projects. Besides writing and storytelling, Tamiera enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with friends, and geeking out over movie trivia.

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