As a restaurant server, you rely on tips from patrons. Depending on the location, servers may only earn $2 or $3 per hour from their employers. For this matter, they need to be the best waiter or waitress possible to ensure that they receive a fair amount of tips from customers.
Restaurant patrons, myself included, typically tip between 15% and 20% of the total cost. Fifteen percent is customary, but if you offer exceptional service, your customers may respond in kind -- and perhaps leave a tip greater than 20%.
Whether you're currently working as a restaurant server, or you're thinking about becoming a server, these five areas play a role in how much you receive from patrons.
- Do you smile? Smiling is contagious; and if your customers were stressed or frustrated before arriving at the restaurant, your happiness might rub off on them, and completely transform their dining experience. Therefore, keep a smile on your face and approach the table with enthusiasm. Even if you're having a bad day, your attitude should scream, "I love my job."
- Do you know the menu? In my opinion, there is nothing more irritating than a server who doesn't know the menu. Understandably, it takes time to familiarise oneself with items on the menu, especially if there are a lot of selections. But when a server knows absolutely nothing, nor makes any effort to find answers to a patron's question, this lack of knowledge and disinterest can negatively influence how much tip a customer leaves.
- Do you keep drink glasses filled? I normally tip between 18% and 20% when dining out, and several factors determine what percentage I leave, such as friendliness and attentiveness. However, as someone who drinks more than he eats, keeping my glass full is one of the best ways to score points with me. Personally, I feel that I shouldn't have to ask for a drink refill -- the server should notice my glass and offer a refill before I have the chance. And no doubt, other patrons might feel the same.
- Do you check back, and how often? Do you want to annoy or please your customers? If they have to hunt for you or wait a long time for the check, this might influence how much tip they leave. A good server is attentive and takes an interest in each patron. Understandably, it can be overwhelming with so many tables, but this isn't an excuse to pull a disappearing act. Check in with patrons about two minutes after bringing the food, and every 5 to 10 minutes thereafter. However, keep your eyes on the table. Come back sooner if you need to remove plates and other dishes, or if you notice their drinks need refilling.
- Do you give them time to enjoy the meal? If it's the end of your shift, there might be a tendency to rush patrons seated at your tables. However, this action doesn't go unnoticed. Don't offer desert until they're close to finishing their meal, and don't bring the check until after the meal -- unless they ask for it sooner.
How do you feel? What factors determine how much tip you leave a server?
Image Credit: [Flickr]