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Best Ways to earn better tips waiting tables

Updated on September 19, 2012

The Best Tips for making bigger tips waiting tables!

Did you say you're looking for the best tips to earning BIGGER tips waiting tables? Well look no further! You have come to the perfect place!

Servers! Are you ready to get paid more? I'm going to give you some pointers/ tips to help you reach your full earning potential waiting tables! These tips are easy and can be fun, especially when you see all those greenbacks laying there on the table waiting for you. You may already do most of these, heck some of you may do all of them. But I'm pretty sure that if you do practice all of these you still forget sometimes. So, come back and read them once a week or so just to keep them fresh in your mind.

I know these tips have worked for me and my wife. I hope they work for all of you. Good luck to you all, I know how tough waiting tables can be. Especially when you get those rude tables. Just remember your attitude is your greatest tool for overcoming those difficult tables, kill them with kindness!

Are you clean?

Make sure you are clean cut and dressed to impress. Don't have stains all over your clothes. Don't wear clothes with holes all over them. Make sure hair is washed and looking good. Make sure your face is shaved (guys), teeth are brushed, hands are clean, no boogers hanging around. Just make sure your appearance won't gross the patrons out and keep them from eating their food.

What makes you tip the way you do?

This is you chance to vote on what you think is biggest factor for how much you tip your server.

What is the deciding factor of how much money you tip your server?

See results
Photo by Leland Francisco
Photo by Leland Francisco

Tip 1: Always smile

...and have a positive attitude!

Let's get started shall we! Keeping a smile on your face and having a positive attitude are probably the most important things you can do to increase your earnings. When people sit down to eat at a restaurant they usually come to get away from all the hussle and bussle of the day. They want to sit down and relax. It is your job to make there eating experience the most pleasant one possible. Nobody wants to have a rude server, and that is a sure fired way to get yourself a crappy tip.

The customer doesn't care that you don't want to be there or that you hate the job. If it is that bad then you probably need to think about getting a different job. It is not the customers fault that you aren't having a good day. Don't make their experience all about you, it's supposed to be all about them.

Learn how to stay positive

The Unfortunate Truth

Do good looks have any pull on what kind of tips you get?

The unfortunate truth is...YES good looks do have a say in the kind of tips you make. I know, it's not right but its true. On the bright side, your attitude has a bigger say. You won't get great tips on good looks alone! If you are good lookin', and your attitude doesn't suck you'll make bank! If your attitude is aweful you'll be bankrupt. If you are attractively challenged don't fret, with a great attitude you will make great tips too!

Tip 2: A Gentle Touch

Keep it friendly!

Use this one carefully! If they seem a little protective when you walk up, you might want to forgo this tip. Some people do tend to be protective of their space.

This tip might sound a little weird...but if you gently touch the person (just one if there are multiples) on the shoulder when asking them how they are doing it will make you seem more personable. You much be sincere with your touch and your talk! Keep the touch FRIENDLY!! This is not meant to be used to hit on someone. This kind gesture lets people know that you are a people person, you are not scared to be around people and you are down to earth. Your customers will be more likely to fork over a few more dollars to someone they feel like they already know.

There are a few others similar to this tip that could be rolled all into one but for the sake of not boring you with one loooonnngg paragraph I will break them up in to several tips. But when used correctly they all will cause your customers to feel more comfortable around you, like they've known you for years.

Again, keep in mind, if they seem protective of their space...LET THEM HAVE IT! Don't get too close. Still be courteous and friendly though.

Did you know?

This is for those of you who've never worked in the restaurant industry before.

Did you know that the average hourly wage for a waiter/waitress is $2.13!

Many people mistakenly think that servers make minimum wage on top of their tips. This simply isn't true.

Tip 3: Get on Their Level

Not mental level, physical level

Number 3 is along the same lines as number 2. It's not something you would automatically think about but it works. Squat down next to the table as you take their orders. Get down to there eye level. It is another way to cause you customers to feel more comfortable. This tip shows that you care enough about your customers to get down on their level with them, not just stand over them.

Like I said earlier, this tip is not something that you would normally think about so it will take some time getting used to doing it. The payoff will be well worth the extra smidge of hassle, trust me.

DO NOT SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THEM! That is just annoying and intrusive.

Introduce yourself by name! It's just another way to make them feel at home and comfortable.

Never run out of pens again!!

What are servers always needing more of?....PENS! PENS! PENS! Every shift you always manage to have misplaced at least 1 pen, I know it's aggrevating. Well, now you can buy pens in bulk. You will save money and never run out of pens! Leaving your customer with a neat pen to sign their receipt is always a good idea because it gives them one more opportunity to smile, and when people smile as they write the tip down it tends to increase the number they write.

Wait!...Now here is a great way to make a little extra money! Buy these pens in bulk for a super discounted price, keep them in your car when you go work, and when your co-works need a pen, sell them one! I'm sure they would be willing to buy a pen for $.25 or $.50. You may not make millions off of it but you can definitely make a few bucks at least!

(2) LBS of Assorted Misprint Ballpoint Pens. Great for the Office or Classroom.
(2) LBS of Assorted Misprint Ballpoint Pens. Great for the Office or Classroom.

How much fun could you have handing these to your customers to use? Watch them as they try to figure out what you pen is supposed to say.

 

Tip 4: Acknowledge the lil' ones

Only if there are little ones! Haha

If there are kids at the table make sure you acknowledge them. If the kids like their waitor/ waitress the more likely the parents are going to like you as well. Ask them their name(s), how old they are, etc. make sure the questions and comments are age appropriate though. One thing I always enjoyed doing when there were kids was to create new names for the food.For example: If it was a little boy I would ask him if he liked dinosaurs, as most little boys do, he would say yes. When I bring out his "chicken tenders" I would say, "And here you go sir, your dinosaur claws and dinosaur blood dipping sauce." It was always a hit.

The parents love it when you help entertain their little ones. Many times it is rough on the parents going out to eat with little ones, so they will appreciate all the help they can get. This is another one that often goes overlooked, but is well worth it.

Don't forget!

Keep in mind that you must be able to accomplish all of your regular duties on top of executing these tips. This means you must keep drinks full, take orders correctly, make sure all condiments are on tables, everyone has silverware, etc...

Tip 5: No Excuses!

This is a major pet peeve

DO NOT give excuses! The customer doesn't care why you forgot to put their order in, or why it took you so long to fill their drinks. If they do care they will ask. All you need to do is apologize for it and continue what you are doing. The less you emphasize your mistake the better. If they do ask, give them a short quick answer. They are not looking for you to give them a long drawnout story.

People don't want you taking up there time with stupid excuses and long life stories. I'm not saying don't talk to your customers at all but keep the conversations to a minimum. LESS IS MORE. Remember, apologize, fix the problem, and continue working. If they ask, answer quickly and to the point.

Don't forget this tip. I know it is easy to fall into the excuse trap, no one wants people to think they just forgot about them, just remember most of the time the customer just wants the problem solved.

Do you have some tips on earning better tips?

Did you use some of these tips?

Did they work?

Did they suck?

Let me know. The only way I can make this lens (page) better is to know how these tips are working out in the real world. I know they all worked for me and I hope they all work for you as well. I will constantly be adding to the list so please let me know if there is anything you would like for me to add.

Hostess Stand - Last name please. We will call your name shortly.

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    • profile image

      Redhead2000 13 months ago

      As a restaurant professional of 25 years, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the best way to make tips is to be extremely gracious and attentive. Help guests make choices. Ask if they have ever fined here before. Explain the style of service, all restaurants are not the same. Casual dining requires fun upbeat quick service. Fine dining requires detailed menu and wine knowledge with a warm professional demeanor. Ask the guest if they have any food allergies, any dietary restrictions( i.e. Are they gluten free or vegan) Quite often guests are so impressed by my knowledge and commitment to great service, they actually let me do the ordering! Nothing gets you a better tip than a big fat check and extremely happy guests! Now go sell something already.

    • profile image

      Michael 2 years ago

      @Anonymous

      Genuine appreciation from the customer that I am pouring my services into. That's absolutely all it takes for me. I love a grateful customer it really makes me want to bust my ass and go above and beyond. And I am very serious a little dose of appreciation goes a long long way with me. And wowwwww how could I forget about understanding from customers. Nothing feels better than someone stopping you on your rounds and asking sir can I get that A1 steak sauce. And you say "O I'm so sorry sir I'll be right back." And they say "Ah man your good, no worries." Talk about stress relieving to have a customer not hate your guts for being a human and forgetting something. Because I for one tend to beat myself up if the customer is upset and it was my fault. But if the customer is understanding and appreciative man o man the service I give them is almost enhanced because they kept me from feeling like an asshole for forgetting their A1. There is a special place reserved in Heaven for understanding, appreciative customers.haha jk but seriously. Hope that helped Anonymous!

    • profile image

      Michael 2 years ago

      Hey Mr1902. I work at Cotton Patch as a waiter and I 100% agree with the treat the kids thing. I mean they are having a dining experience too and if you help the kid into a good mood it might be contageous and help the parents into a better mood seeing their child/children respond positively to you. It kind of eases them I think. One major thing I do is I call no matter how young they are (excluding babies) Sir and Ma'am. You try it and see. Scenario, a woman and her 7 year old son eat out and when you take her order you say well what can I getcha ma'am. (No big deal most people have manners enough to address people as sir or ma'am so don't expect her to be impressed by your manners) But then I look over to the little boy and say "and what can I get you today sir?" You will be suprised at the childs reaction being treated like a grown up and their little faces usually light up and they order for themselves without the parents help or the child grins at you and turns away due to shyness. Either way the majority of the time the customer will recognize the hospitality that you extended to their child/children and will keep this in mind when it comes to paying you for your efforts and services. Now I love the dinasour thing man with the blood. I bet little kids love that but not alot of people are comfortable enough with their own personality to try such a daring thing. For you and me this is the farthest from daring but to some people it is.lol So I thought I would throw my 2 cents in because it is something so easy and simple but so rewarding. Not just tip wise but idk something about kids faces lighting up involuntarily puts a warm smile on my face. But, that aside because this article is about tips not heart warming reactions from children, try it. It's often overlooked or not even thought about. But I guarentee if you treat their kids as good or better as you do the adults the majority of the time the parents will notice and pay you handsomely. And remember the Golden Rule to serving "If you take care of the customer the customer will take care of you."

      ...most of the time haha

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just wondering about the opposite; what can a customer do to get better service? What motivates you all?

    • profile image

      sjdigioia 4 years ago

      Waiters will always complain that they donât make the kind of tips that they want. But they fail to realize that only by making your guests feel special, feel as if THEIR enjoyment is YOUR primary concern, will you make the big tips. All else is not important.

      earnmoretipsonyourverynextshift.blogspot.com

    • profile image

      teni871 4 years ago

      Been a server/bartender for 20+yrs. My advice,acknowledge! If your busy and they are waiting, make eye contact and say "i will be right with you" when you do, thank them for their patience. That will take you far. Learn names,drinks of repeat customers.whatever your customer is feeling validate it,correct,move on."im sorry you waited, im sure your hungry, what can i bring you to start?". Lots of great advice here, thank you to the author

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've been a waitress for four years now and have had customers become very good friends of mine. That's how I met my husband!!! I can honestly say that all of these tips work.

    • mr1902 profile image
      Author

      mr1902 5 years ago

      @anonymous: That's awesome! Good job. If you make the kids happy...the parents will be even happier!

    • mr1902 profile image
      Author

      mr1902 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Awesome! I'm glad to hear it was helpful for you! Come back and let me know how it works for you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love the dinosaur claw part- i'm not brilliant with kids so i am definitely going to use this line! thanks, this was so helpful!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have always squatted while taking an order and it really does work. On top of not making the guest feel like you're above them you can also hear them better; especially the elderly ..... also getting in with the kids is big too.... I work in a family restaurant wherewe have car kid packs.... I always let the kids pick the colors they want since parents make almost all decisions for kids.

    • mr1902 profile image
      Author

      mr1902 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Glad it helped!! Good luck with your tips!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks this helped soo much!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      put your great attitude towards your guest for all his/her needs by be friendly to them and speak their mind by never allow them to ask for , speak for anything till the time they are in the restaurant and look for all fulfillment and keep them satisfied

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      These bits of advice seem to fall in line with amount of flair. In the professional service world,act professional. Good luck.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I find that putting a smiley face on the receipt puts a little more on the tips. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      At one point in time, I had a very silly pen I would give customers to sign their checks. It was yellow, as thick as a marker and twice as long as a regular pen. I often found guests smiling or laughing as they signed their checks with it. I think it helped make a few extra dollars by putting customers in a good mood right before signing over those tips. Try it out! Let us know if it works for you too!

    • profile image

      hamshi5433 6 years ago

      Beautiful tips for the waiters..I always annoy my mum to give them more tips ha especially to those who seem so friendly and kind.

    • mr1902 profile image
      Author

      mr1902 6 years ago

      @anonymous: hahaha...thanks.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      you spelled entertainment and emphasize wrong.

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      momsfunny 6 years ago

      great info

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      sugunalinus 6 years ago

      Gentle service is one of the major factor. Nice to see a lens for servers. Good keep it up.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 6 years ago

      I would not like it if the server "touched" me. I am kind of funny that way.

      I spent more than a few years serving tables in my younger days. I also tended bar for quite a few years. A friendly server is a must.

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 6 years ago

      Good lens. You bring up an excellent point about the idea of making it a relaxing and pleasing experience, not another stress that the customer had to add to their day.

    • VictoriaNeely1 profile image

      VictoriaNeely1 6 years ago

      On the "gentle touch" tip: Many people are protective of their personal space bubble and might get defensive if you touch them. I would find it over-the-top at the very least, unless this action is consistent with the personality of the server. A female server who is genuinely warm and maternal might win me over with a shoulder touch, but I would approach this tip with caution.

      Also, I notice many times when I go to a restaurant that the server doesn't make sure that my table has everything it needs... silverware, condiments, etc. I'm impressed by the server who is attentive to these little details.