How To Increase Servers' Tips

For servers, tips can make up as much as 70% of their income. Servers’ income is contingent on the dining experience and behavior of the customer.

Every year $40 billion dollars is tipped in restaurants across the US, and tipping is an integral aspect of restaurant models. A few servers have struck it lucky, most notably a server at Pizza Hut was tipped $10,000 by a regular to help her pay for her college tuition. While this extravagant form of generosity is rare, there are a number of ways you can enable your servers to earn more in tips.

Sell a Bigger Total Bill

A recent study by the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell found that the biggest factor affecting tip amount was the total size of the bill. This may come as no surprise, but how is this accomplished? Upselling. Start off by assuming that the diner will order a three-course meal and a drink when taking their order, encouraging them to order more than they may have originally intended. Upselling customers leverages the momentum of purchase decisions to increase profit margins. You can also:

  • Maximize a total order by leveraging dynamic pricing in the form of discounts and combos. Build incremental sales, by structuring discounts attached to individual items (e.g., add a discounted drink or side with the purchase of an entree) or combinations of items for a fixed price (e.g., choose any combination of soup, salad, and sandwich for $12). With Revel’s discount feature the server can effectively sell designated items for a combined special price.
  • With a mobile POS, servers can take orders directly at the table or anywhere on the floor. Suggested items and specials pop up as they’re inputting orders, driving more upsell opportunities.

Provide Top-Notch Service

While you may not have control over how the food will taste, you have control over every other moving part. From ensuring that the order is accurate to being ready with the check, you are the driver of the customers’ experience.

  • Manage your customers’ wait times and seat guests efficiently by tracking table turns. Servers can digitally recreate your table layout, highlighting tables with multiple orders and use a color-coding system to keep track of the status of each order, so they can best anticipate the needs of their customers.
  • When working in a fast-paced restaurant, there is no room for mistakes. Handwritten tickets for the kitchen staff leave a large margin for human error and can ruin an entire order. With a Kitchen Display System, orders get sent to the kitchen automatically from servers along with any special requests. This reduces confusion in the kitchen and eliminates the need to print multiple paper records.
  • Be ready with the check! This is your customers’ final impression before they tip, so be sure that the check is accurate and your Point Of Sale is set up to accommodate any bill splitting requests. Because research shows that a personalized note increases the tip, go above and beyond and encourage your servers to hand write “Thank You” on the receipt. Make sure you take all steps necessary to end the customer journey on a high note.

Tipping Digitally

The “pain of paying” is amplified when customers must pull bills from their wallets or add up tips by hand; the old-fashioned way is costing you. According to a 2015 survey by retail POS research website Software Advice, tipping digitally makes the process easier, leading to greater tips.Having pre-set tip options displayed on the printed on the bottom of the receipt gives you the control to set a tip baseline (eg. if the lowest option is 15%, out of three options, customers are more likely to choose a higher tip option).

Restaurant tipping is the social norm of reciprocity. What this means is that while tipping is expected, the amount can vary widely depending on customers’ whole experience and in the moment behavior. To mitigate the fickleness in customer behavior and ensure a completely seamless experience, you can leverage a number of studied techniques to earn more in tips.