Some Advice to Servers
You have chosen to make your living, at least for awhile, in the hospitality industry - one of the few places people go these days expecting to have a good time. What a great place to be!
A unique feature of the service business is the practice of tipping. For most professional service folks, tips are effectively their entire source of income. Now you can love tipping or you can hate it, but you can't argue that tips are instant feedback on how your guests feel about your work.
The quality of the interaction with your guests not only establishes your income but it effectively determines how they feel about your restaurant - so in many ways, the success of the business is also in your hands!
Every service pro wants to do a better job (and make more money) and this little book (50 Tips to Improve Your Tips) can help you do just that. It will give you valuable insights into how you can make your guests feel better-served and it will help you see how to create a relationship with your guests that can cause them to leave you more at the end of the meal and be more anxious to return.
If you take these ideas to heart and make them part of your service style, you should see the results where it counts - in your pocket!
There are basically two ways to build your tips - you can increase your sales and/or you can improve the percentage you receive from each sale. Let's look at these two options and how they may figure into your financial future:
Option 1: Increase Your Sales
Tip income is a percentage of what your guests purchase, so higher sales are likely to mean greater tips.
The approach most people take to build sales is to increase the check through a technique called "suggestive selling." Done with sincerity and skill, it can be very effective. Done poorly, suggestive selling can come across as insincere, shallow and manipulative.
Another problem is that if your attention is focused on how much money your guests are spending, it can be a distraction that might get in the way of establishing a personal connection with your guests - and it is the level of personal connection that determines how well-served your guests feel. So your tips really come from serving people, not from serving food. If you get the big sale tonight and lose the guests' future business in the process, then pushing the check average was not a very smart strategy for maximizing your income over the long term.
Another way to achieve sales growth is to have your guests return more often. When you focus on repeat patronage, your goal is to delight your guests rather than simply trying to increase sales (although the two are not necessarily incompatible).
Repeat patronage is the safest way to build sales volume. Take a guest who normally comes in twice a month. If you can treat them in such a way that they come in just one more time a month instead of going to a competitor, you have just increased your sales from this person by 50% - without any increase in the average check and without any pressure on the diner.
Option 2: Increase Your Tip Percentage
If your guests left a bigger percentage of the check as a tip you would also increase your income. So, for example, if your tips went from 10% to 20% of sales, then you could double your income on the same sales volume!
Your tip percentage may be determined in a number of ways. Some people tip because it is the custom in this country (and if you have served guests from other countries you know that in many cultures tipping is definitely not the custom!) Some people will leave a tip, even if the service was poor, because they would feel guilty if they didn't.
But the biggest factor in tipping - the thing that will determine whether diners leave you 10% or 30% - is the level of personal connection you establish with your guests. The greater the bond, the higher your tip is likely to be. At the least, when the guest is deciding what to leave you at the end of the meal, personal connection will cause them to round up instead of rounding down!
Do you have regulars who always ask for you? Do you typically get a better tip from them? If so, it shows what personal connection can do for your tip income. The good news is that the same thing can happen with virtually every table...and more often than not! Read on!