Paperback book, 68 pages, 4"x7"
Copyright 1997
Published by Hospitality Masters Press, Gig Harbor, WA
Order this book.

A lot of people were saying that they liked my first book, Restaurant Basics, but that at 60 bucks a copy it was hard to give one to everyone on their staff. Did I have something more bite-sized, they asked. My response was 50 Tips to Improve Your Tips: The Service Pro's Guide to Delighting Diners." This is a pocket-sized paperback that will help your service staff create more personal connection with your patrons and increase their tips while improving service and guest satisfaction.


Tips and Tipping in the Real World
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 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!

50 Tips to Improve Your Tips

A point to ponder
Tips and tipping in the real world

1. Be competent
2. Get a good night's rest
3. Get into character before you step onstage
4. Be sure the tabletop is picture-perfect
5. Offer a sincere compliment

6. Acknowledge guests within 60 seconds
7. Engage your brain before operating your mouth
8. Look at guests when you speak to them
9. Learn and use guests' names
10. Remember what guests like and don't like

11. Keep your mind off the tip
12. Observe common courtesies
13. Focus on delighting your guests
14. Make personal recommendations
15. Introduce yourself last

16. Suggest alternatives to sold-out items
17. Offer reading material to single diners
18. Have an opinion about your wines
19. Reinforce the guests' decisions
20. Make it easy for large groups

21. Bring extra napkins when appropriate
22. Let guests off the hook
23. Take good care of the kids
24. Pass some good news to the cooks
25. Replace soiled serviceware

26. Refold an absent guest's napkin
27. Recognize lefties
28. Bring the full one before taking the empty one
29. Speak in complete sentences
30. Give guests something to talk about

31. Offer to make copies
32. Be an advocate for your guests
33. Anticipate guests' needs
34. Take the picture
35. Move with the speed of the room

36. Bring wetnaps for small children
37. Resolve problems immediately
38. Place the coffee cup handle at 4:00
39. Ask permission before refilling coffee
40. Say "decaf" quietly when pouring it

41. Bring a fresh cup of coffee
42. Offer complimentary coffee refills on espresso
43. Settle the check quickly
44. Garnish the doggie bag
45. Help with the coats

46. Invite guests back on a specific day for a specific reason
47. Check for forgotten articles immediately
48. Show your gratitude
49. Call immediately on lost and found articles
50. Send a thank-you note


7. Engage your brain before operating your mouth
How does it feel when you talk to someone who is not listening to you or whose mind is wandering while they speak? Pretty annoying, right? Your guests feel the same displeasure whenever you operate on "automatic." When you address your guests while your mind is distracted, your message is that something is more important to you than they are. This will not help them feel well-served or think of you kindly when it is time to figure the tip! Approach the table, stop and clear your head of stray thoughts. Wait for your guests to look up at you. When they do, be clear about what you have to say . . . and say it with a smile in your voice.

15. Introduce yourself last
The server introduction ("Hi, my name is _________ and I'll be your waiter") is stale and boring. Many servers just do it without thinking but you know the risk of speaking without thinking. The sad truth is that when you first approach the table, guests don't know you well enough to care who you are! Wait until you have finished your initial contact at the table and then offer your name if you feel comfortable doing it. ("By the way, my name is Karen. If you need anything, just stand on your chair, yell HELP and I'll be right over!") It is much harder to stiff "Karen" than it is to stiff "the waitress." Since personal connection generally leads to bigger tips, you are on your way!

24. Pass some good news to the cooks
In the same way that you need to be sensitive to the mood of your guests, you will also benefit from being sensitive to the kitchen crew. If you have the support of the kitchen, it will be a lot easier to take exceptionally good care of your guests! Think about it. The cooks are back there knocking themselves out to produce great product under extreme conditions and the only time they hear about it is when something is wrong! To help foster harmony, try to share some good news with the cooks on your trips to the kitchen. Don't break their concentration, but be sure to let them know when guests are loving the food. PS: treat the dish crew with respect, too. They can also help you out!

46. Invite guests back on a specific day for a specific reason
The safest way to build sales is by getting guests to return more often. "Y'all come back now" is pleasant, but it isn't very likely to move people to action. You will generate more repeat business with something specific. If it seems appropriate, consider a comment like "Please come back next Thursday for our fajita special. It's really a great deal. I'll be working that night and I would really enjoy seeing you again." This is more likely to generate a return visit than a simple "thank you." Inviting guests to ask for you on their return is a good way to build a regular following. You probably have a few loyal patrons already and today's strangers can be tomorrow's regulars.

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