In the world of serving, tips are your main source of income. Working as a server can involve late nights that are often physically demanding.
However, serving can also be exciting, fast-paced, and lucrative when you know how to be an amazing server. The average server can make roughly $19,000 to $35,000 per year.
Understanding top serving tips and tricks can help servers make the most of their working hours. From studying the menu and greeting customers, to maintaining a great attitude, there are many opportunities to either make or break the size of your tip.
There’s room for growth when you work as a server, too. Once you have experience, apply to fancier restaurants because that is where you will make the most tips.
Fine dining is what you’ll ultimately want to transition into if you want to make some serious cash. The average fine dining server makes between $51,248 and $92,000 annually.
Here’s what you need to know to make better tips as a server!
1. Know the menu like the back of your hand
Memorizing the entire menu will drastically improve the quality of service that you can extend to your guests. You’ll have the ability to give food and drink suggestions with ease, explain add-ons, and minimize the likelihood of having to send back food due to customer allergies.
There’s nothing worse than asking a server questions about the menu only for them to respond with, “I don’t know.” Avoid being an unknowledgeable server by knowing the menu and answering questions as best as you can. You’ll also save time because you won’t have to run around searching for your manager or bothering the chefs in the kitchen.
Additionally, always write down the orders, even if you’re a veteran server. No matter how good your memory is, having written documentation of the orders Writing down orders is crucial to avoiding errors, especially for guests with allergies.
2. Greet your table ASAP
We all know what it’s like to sit down at a busy restaurant and debate if it’s worth the wait. The key is to catch people in this moment and give them reasons to stay.
What keeps people from leaving restaurants? Usually, a friendly and timely welcome will entice people to stay, even if the wait is slightly longer than they prefer.
Even if you’re scrambling and handling numerous tasks all at once, take a moment to greet tables and let them know you’ll be right with them. Make your guests feel seen and valued by updating them. If you don’t greet your guests immediately, they will feel invisible, which gives the impression that you don’t care. This will more often than not result in a smaller tip, if not an empty table altogether.
It’s important to find a good workflow to eliminate wasted time and make every step count all while maintaining high-quality customer service. Carry multiple orders to tables that are close by for convenience. Print multiple checks when possible, too. Then, you can take a quick order on the way to drop off the printed checks. These tips will help you handle multiple tables at once, which ultimately increases the number of tips you receive during your shift.
3. Maintain a good attitude during your shifts
Having a good attitude can be a game-changer, no one wants to be served by debby downer. It can be easy to have a good attitude when you aren’t super busy or have easy customers. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it, especially if you’re dealing with difficult customers. No matter what’s going on in your environment (or life), do your best to smile, stay patient, and spread good vibes.
4. Create a connection with customers
When your guest feels connected to you, they will view you in a favorable light and remember you. This creates a system of networking that is incredibly invaluable.
Take the time to connect with your customers by introducing yourself, asking how everyone is, and letting your personality shine.
Crack a joke or two if that’s something you like to do! You don’t have to be overly personal or spend all of your time at your guests’ tables in order to be a memorable server.
It’s all about how you are during the brief moments you interact with guests. Stay relaxed, be kind, and always show them that you care about their experience at the restaurant. At the end of their visit, thank them for dining with you and encourage them to come back soon.
5. Write a thank you note on receipts
Make every last moment count. Add that personal customer service touch by writing thank you on your guests’ receipts. You can also draw a smiley face! Be as creative as you want. Everyone likes personalized notes, and this small gesture will brighten your guest’s day in an unforgettable way.
6. Upsell items on the menu
Upselling is the best way to promote sales and increase the final cost of your guests’ dining experience. Your tips are correlated to the dollar amount on the bill, meaning the greater the total price, the bigger your tip.
It’s important that you refrain from sounding pushy when you are upselling. You don’t want customers to feel like you’re just trying to make money off of them.
An excellent way to nonchalantly upsell is by offering your guests different beverage options in addition to water. Let them know your favorite menu options and take this as a great opportunity to mention any specials currently being offered. Always ask if anyone wants coffee or dessert at the end of meals, too.
7. Study food allergies
Around 32 million Americans have food allergies. The major allergens are soy, wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
With that in mind, it’s essential to remember that you likely will serve a decent amount of guests with food allergies. Learn your restaurant’s allergy protocol to keep guests as safe as possible. Learn which dishes, sauces, and dressings contain allergens. Ask guests if they have food allergies once you seat them at their tables. That way, if they order something that contains possible allergens you can let them know right away. This will show your guests that you prioritize their health and wellness.s.
8. Call guests by their names
When a guest hands you their credit card to pay, look at the name on the credit card. Upon returning the card to your guest, address them by their last name.
If your guest is paying cash, simply ask the host for the name on their reservation. You can end up receiving a 10% increase in tips just by adding a personal touch and addressing your guests by name.
9. Don’t rush your guests
Although turning tables often increases the amount of money you’ll make at the end of your shift, it’s important that you never rush guests.
If you need to casually move your timeline along, do it discreetly by greeting your table within 90 seconds. Deliver drinks to the table right away and take orders after about five minutes have passed.
Once the food is delivered, ask your guests if there’s anything else you can get them. Wait about four minutes after they receive their food to offer refills and ask if everything is to their liking.
10. Remember the names of regulars
You want guests to keep coming back, not only to your restaurant but because of you. When customers have a great dining experience and feel connected to you as their server, they’ll often come back and ask to be seated at your table specifically.
When people are recognized and significant, they feel a sense of comfort. Do your best to remember people’s faces, names, or anything specific about them to establish a friendly connection.
Go above and beyond to get more tips
Give the best guest experience possible to make the most money and keep people coming back to your restaurant. Take the time to make guests feel welcomed and important.
Being a server can be a great way to make a living. If you’re a college student or a commitment-phobe needing some extra cash, serving can also be an excellent way to supplement your lifestyle.
Making tips as a server can help you make the money you need even if you don’t make a career out of it. Whatever money goals you’re ready to crush, you’ll be unstoppable when you apply these tips on how to be a good server.