Being a restaurant server has its share of drawbacks; the hours are tough, it’s physically draining, and you have to deal with difficult customers and dirty dishes.
However, running around a restaurant and being a part of people’s first dates, engagements, anniversaries, graduation parties, and meals of a lifetime definitely outweigh the negatives. And the wine tastings don’t hurt either.
That being said, having a great time at work is one thing, but paying the bills is another.
The Money Behind Being a Restaurant ServerBeing a server can be financially rewarding and extremely flexible, which is why you’ll see such a variety of people in this role: college students, moonlighters, artists, and more will be more than happy to create a great guest experience in exchange for a nice tip.
In fact, my personal experience can attest: I had way more disposable income working at restaurants during college than I did in my first two “professional” jobs after graduating. I could afford to pay rent for an apartment in the middle of Boston, travel internationally, and put some savings away for a rainy day.
As with any job, just coasting through a shift won’t make you more money. But unlike salaried jobs or sales positions with a longer sales cycle, there are many ways servers can see immediate financial benefits. If you are hiring people that are genuinely interested in providing great experiences and in making more money, or if you’re a server that wants to make the most of your time at work, use the following tips to help you bring home the bacon!
Tips for Servers to Make More Money
1. Write "Thank You!" on guests' checks, or make 'em laugh!Making the restaurant experience more enjoyable and breaking down the barrier between server and customer works wonders for increasing your tips. Let's start with one you probably already know is effective - writing "thank you" on checks.
One study found that this increased tips by 13% - simply for writing two words on a guest's bill. Seems well worth the effort if you ask me!
For an added bonus, breaking down that perceived barrier even further by joking with the customers helps them see you as a person, not just the server whose name they forgot 40 minutes ago. Another study found that telling a joke to your guests increases tips by a whopping 40%. Plus, if you're ever looking to make a name for yourself in the stand-up comedy biz, this is a pretty good way to try out your material.
2. Upsell an experience, not an item.Part of any job is working smarter, not harder. Instead of selling a thing - think glass of wine, appetizer, desert – sell an experience.
Instead of “Would you like some wine with your meal?” try something like, “The Malbec would be a fantastic pairing with your steak tonight. It will seriously enhance the flavor and feel of the beautiful steak you’re going to have. Should I bring a glass out with your meal, or is there a different wine you’d like to try?”
Instead of “Would you like to start with some appetizers?” try “The frisée salad is my favorite way to start the meal here! I also just tried the roasted tomato soup, just before service, and it was so bright and flavorful! Would you like to try either of those? Or should I bring something else out to get you started?”
3. Assume they will order a full meal – appetizer, entrée, desert, drinks.You’ll notice in the suggestions above, the upsell ends with an assumption that an appetizer or wine will be ordered. The more “typical” something seems, the more likely your guests will go along with it. Not only that, but the more items servers can add to their dining experience, the more delighted the guests will be, leading to larger tips!
Some guests might not order anything at all, but in the midst of talking through the options, you’ll still be building an important relationship with the table. And this is also key to a great experience for both diners and servers.
4. Be efficient, not fast.Turning tables is key to making more money. If the restaurant is full service, there is a fine line between turning tables and rushing guests. Let’s say that the server has done a great job of step 1 and 2, but either can’t get the table to leave or is too pushy about it. Both situations will affect tips – on one hand, a server will miss out on an additional table. On the other hand, guests will be annoyed. Neither is ideal.
To avoid these situations, efficiency is key: serving as many guests as possible, with as few mistakes as possible, all while building a strong relationship. Piece of cake, right?
Simple steps can go a long way to make sure that servers are getting more table turns and guests are satisfied:
- Handheld, pay-at-the-table devices can help eliminate mistakes and have servers avoid running back and forth to the kitchen for allergy and ingredient questions. Toast, for example, has an “item detail” feature that comes in handy (no pun intended!). For example, any allergy complications, ingredients, or even suggested wine pairings can be available at the touch of a button. Use those valuable seconds that would be spent running back and forth to the kitchen for such questions to fill up waters and ensure tables have what they need.
- Counts can be added to items to help servers avoid ordering something that is out of stock, then spending time returning to the table and waiting for the customer to choose something else. BONUS: The kitchen will be grateful for the lack of disruptions in service!
- If handhelds are not a part of your hardware setup, servers can drop checks and say, “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” rather than, “I’ll take this when you’re ready.” Guests feel good knowing that their server is attentive, and it will help the server avoid seeming “pushy” as they are only doing what they promised. It also gives a timeframe for the guests to work with, and might get them to free up the table instead of chit chat for another 45 minutes.
- The Golden Rule – never go from one place to another empty-handed! There is always something to be carried from the kitchen to the dining room, from the bar to the dining room, from the kitchen to the bar, etc. Always be doing something to sustain your mise-en-place, even if it means helping out your fellow servers by taking away a few dirty glasses. Every second counts!
Tips for Managers to Train Servers to Make More Money
5. Give a little, get a lot!Servers handing out simple tokens of appreciation (a mint, a fortune cookie, etc.) have been known to increase tips. What's noteworthy is just how much they increase server tips.
Check out the video below (starting at 1:48) to see this idea of reciprocity explained.
- When one mint per diner was given, tips increased about 3%.
- When two mints per diner were given, tips increased about 14%.
- When a server gave one mint, started to walk away, then said "For you nice people, here's an extra mint," tips increased about 23%.
6. Train, train, train!Managers, remember to train your restaurant staff. Your staff cannot upsell effectively without knowing what is available, or what items on your menu make a great pairing. Wine tastings, menu item tastings, and education on how to pair is essential! Your staff needs these delightful culinary experiences to provide great suggestions to your guests!
7. Keep track of your strongest servers, know who needs a little help!Use your POS reporting to understand your servers’ behavior. With Toast, you can see who is upselling the most. Track this on a weekly or daily basis and make an effort to get your employees up to the level of your top revenue-generating server!
8. Make it fun to make more money!Servers love to make money, and there’s nothing better than a little friendly competition to get the momentum going! With great reporting, like that mentioned above, it’s easy to run a contest with a nice reward at the end. Just make sure the reward is appealing and achievable. A meal for two at the restaurant feeds servers’ passion for food, and will allow them to upsell that experience on their next shift! You also can save money with some hacks on your life style.
For Servers and Managers
9. Stay positive!Don’t get caught up in the impossible-to-please guests, or those who truly believe 10% is an adequate tip for a fantastic experience. They’re out there, and they’re part of the industry. Brush it off, and move on to those guests that leave you glowing!
10. Be a supportive team!The F&B industry is a special one – those who have never worked in foodservice will never understand the dynamic between staff members. It’s a roller coaster, and your colleagues... just… get it. Nurture your work relationships and bond with each other. Your guests will notice a welcoming vibe, and get those warm and fuzzies that make them want to spend time at your restaurant, eat your delicious meals, and take care of you when the bill comes! As like industry if you are one of game player addict then you may can join and start new journey only just take a chance to generate more coins gems or any other resources with some tricky.
Bonus Tip! #11. Stay in touch with industry trends.Knowledge of the industry is key to being a successful restaurant employee, owner, or manager. Isn't that what you're doing right now - reading industry insight to become better at your job?
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