5 Ideas To Help Your Employees Get Better Tips

5 Ideas To Help Your Employees Get Better Tips

Employees who make good tips are happier employees.

If you are looking for ways to keep your best and most loyal employees, then you’ll want them to have the best shot at making an acceptable living.

Help your employees get better tips, and you’ll be more likely to retain them for the long-run. (tweet this)

You probably know that waiting tables is incredibly hard work. Your servers are on their feet, sometimes for extra-long shifts. While their base pay is low, they do have an opportunity to survive and thrive on their tips.

Payment processor, Square, analyzed tens of millions of transactions and found the following to be true when customers left tips across the United States:

  • Alaska (17%), Arkansas (16.9%) and North Carolina (16.8%) averaged the highest tips.
  • Delaware (14%), Hawaii (15.1%) and South Dakota (15.3%) averaged the lowest tips.
  • According to Square, the nationwide average is about 16.1%.

The biggest surprise in their study was their finding in regards to the percentage of customers who even left a tip at all. For instance, in Illinois, people leave a tip a little over 61% of the time, while customers in Delaware added tips fewer than 38% of the time.

With those fairly dismal statistics, just how do you help your employees get better tips? We’re going to give you some ideas.

Tipping is much more than your customers acknowledging good service. For your employees, it’s the only way for them to make a living. Many customers tip because they have to, but your customers will shell out extra if they really like your servers.

Here are five ideas to help your employees get better tips:

#1: The Personal Touch

The personal touch is key. Here’s an idea: have your servers deliver mints to the table when your customers are finished eating.

It turns out there’s a psychological process behind mint-giving. The way they are given, and the amount of mints given can increase the tip amount by up to 23%.

Researchers for the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, tested the effects that mints had against a control group. This control group wasn’t given any mints. Researchers did this to test the effectiveness of mint-giving in increasing tips. Here are the results:

  • Group #1: Waiters gave their customers mints when they delivered the check. They made no mention of the mints, and they just set them on the table. This group received 3% more tips than the control group.
  • Group #2: The waiters brought two mints per person to the table and asked the customers if they wanted a mint before they left. They received 14% more tips than the control group.
  • Group #3: The final group of waiters delivered the check first along with two mints per person. A little bit later the server came back with more mints and told the customers they were bringing more in case anyone wanted another. This last test group received 21% more tips than the control group.

While it’s obvious why the last two groups got more tips (the addition of the mention of the mints), why the big increase in group #3?

It’s the personal touch. The waiter came back a second time to deliver more mints in case they wanted more. This made the customers feel good; someone cared enough to meet their needs without necessarily having to. This showed genuine kindness.

When your servers go further than the customers expect or beyond the call of duty, their tips increase. (tweet this)

#2: The Unique Item

Have your servers wear something unique with their uniform. When customers note something distinctive about their servers, they’ll see them as people, not just that guy or girl who served me.

The server will appear more interesting and friendly if they wear something distinctive, and in the end garner a bigger tip. How should they set themselves apart? Perhaps a scarf, jewelry, pin or button. There are, of course, limits on just what the unique element should be.

One study had six waitresses at an upscale restaurant record their finding for four nights. On two of those nights, they wore a flower in their hair. They wore the flowers randomly, in other words, they didn’t all wear them at the same time. Each waitress chose her own flower.

The results? Each waitresses tips increased by about 17% when they wore flowers in their hair.

better tips

The personal touch usually garners better tips.

#3: The Introduction

Your employees will get better tips if they introduce themselves by name when they first greet their customers. This is not only friendly and polite, but it lets the customer get to know the server.

This theory was tested in an experiment in California. People were randomly greeted in one of two ways. They were:

  • “Good morning. My name is Kim, and I will be serving you this morning. Have you ever been to (name of restaurant) for brunch before?”
  • “Good morning. I will be serving you this morning. Have you ever been to (name of restaurant) for brunch before?

In this study, the waitresses earned $2.00 more per table when using their first name in the introduction.

#4: Repeat the Order

Tipping research shows that tips increase when servers repeat the customer’s order back to them. It helps the guest make a connection to the server, because as they repeat the order back, customers feel a comradery.

In the study, two servers were involved. One repeated the customers’ orders. The other one just indicated they got the order with an okay. For the server who repeated the orders, more than 78% of people left a tip. The other server, who just said okay, only got a tip 52% of the time.

#5: Forecast Good Weather

This is one of the most interesting findings on ways to help your employees get better tips. This study involved a waitress at a mid-priced Italian restaurant in New Jersey. She wrote the weather forecast on the backs of some of her checks but not on all of them. She wrote:

“The weather is supposed to be really good tomorrow. I hope you enjoy the day!”

When she forecast good weather, her tips averaged 22.2%, but when she made no forecast, her tips averaged 18%.

What to do if the weather is bad? Your wait staff should write a personal message with a hand-written thank you on each check. This reminds the customer that the servers appreciated them.

This expression of gratitude might also convince customers to leave a larger tip.

The Takeaway

Research has proven that your employees will get better tips if they use some of these techniques. None of them take much effort, and there is no reason not to use them.

Additionally, when your servers employee these techniques, you just might increase revenue as the extra-special service will leave your customers with such a good feeling they’ll either order more, or they’ll be back next week for the great food and the great service.

Have you found ways to help your employees get better tips? If so, we’d love to hear about them. Please share them here!

Images: Nathan Rupert and Paul Rysz

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