How to double your tip earnings in 2017
Whether you work as a waiter, waitress, or bartender, your income is largely based on your ability to earn tips from the customers you serve. While estimates of average tip earnings vary (Square data suggests it’s roughly 16 percent of the total check while a PayScale survey set it at about $3.40 an hour), there are strategies you can employ to help you bank more cash on every shift. Diligently practice these suggestions, and you have a great shot at being able to double your tip amounts in 2017.
Upsell whenever possible. Many customers stick to a standard tip – whether that’s 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent or more – regardless of the service they receive (unless it’s unbelievably egregious, in which case they might not tip anything at all). For this reason, upselling every check is the simplest thing you can do to increase the total tips you earn. If you’re a bartender, make a habit of suggesting more expensive specialty drinks and premium brands. If you’re a waiter or waitress, enthusiastically describe the restaurant’s appetizer and dessert offerings. You can also suggest premium sides and add-ons, such as protein on a salad or bacon on a burger, for entrees.
Show your individuality. Even restaurant and bar workers whose employers require them to wear a uniform can find an opportunity to personalize their appearance in some way. In one highly publicized study, researchers asked waitresses at an upscale restaurant to wear a flower of their choice in their hair during one of two shifts. They later compared the women’s earnings to the tips received when not wearing the flower. Surprisingly, they found that a distinctive addition – in this case, the flower – led to a 17 percent increase in tips! Consider trying out a unique hairstyle, jewelry or hat.
Transform new customers into regulars. The first time you meet a customer, introduce yourself by name and make sure to get his or hers. Then make sure you remember it. For extra points, try to keep tabs on your repeat customers’ "usual" orders as well. This will help you transform them into dedicated regulars, a group that’s often considered to be among the highest tippers.
Establish rapport every time. Greet every customer with a friendly smile. If you’re busy when they sit down (or approach the bar), let them know you’ll get to them in just a moment. When you’re finally able to give them your attention, introduce yourself and get their names (if they aren’t already regulars). Brief physical contact, such as a touch on the shoulder or a handshake, can also be helpful in establishing rapport, as can repeating their order. When customers see you as a person – or even better, as a friend – they’re more likely to leave a larger tip.
Be attentive, even when you’re busy. Never let a water, ice tea, or soda glass sit empty. Proactively refill their bar snacks. Anything you can do for a customer before he or she asks is another opportunity to increase your tip. And while you shouldn’t hesitate to check in periodically and ask if anything is needed (especially if you can tell your customer wants to be pampered) you should also know when to give your guests space. Reading your customers’ needs is an important skill if you want to maximize your earnings.
Personalize the check. Studies have shown that a simple "Thank You" or smiley face written on a customer’s check can actually increase the size of the tip they leave. This is because of our natural human desire for reciprocity, or need to give someone something in return (such as a larger tip) when they give something to us.