How to Get Bigger Tips as a Server

As a server, you rely on tips to pay your bills. There's no room for a bad mood or a lazy attitude in the hospitality industry as these qualities will earn you tips of 10 percent or less. If you are dedicated to providing the best service you can, you'll maximize your tip potential.


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    Smile at everyone and be friendly. Guests like it when they feel their server is approachable. Smiles are also contagious, putting your customers in a good mood and increasing your tips.
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    Come up with an upbeat way to greet your tables. If you sound bored or like you hate your job, they aren't likely to tip you very much. Let your guests know you will take care of their needs.
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    Know the menu, especially if you work in fine dining. People will sometimes ask how a specific dish tastes or what you recommend, so prepare yourself to answer these questions. You also need to know what ingredients are in each dish, as people do have food allergies and special requests. Saving a vegan from a dish made with chicken stock will boost your tip.
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    Bring out drinks right away. Take the drink order, go get the drinks and come back after allowing the guests to look over the menu for a minute. Also bring out any complementary starters your restaurants serves, like bread or chips.
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    Serve the different courses in the proper order. If a customer orders an appetizer, that needs to come out first; don't bring the salads until they are done or almost done with their appetizer. Likewise, don't bring out the entrees right after bringing out the salads. Proper spacing between meals will make the guest more comfortable; rushing him will reduce your tip. If you need to, wait to send the entrée order to the kitchen to allow for the proper timing.
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    Check back with your guests but don't be annoying. After you serve the entrée, check back within two minutes to see if everything is cooked properly and if they need anything else, like condiments or napkins. Stay within a close radius so you can see if they ever start looking around like they need something. Always refill drinks as soon as they start getting low.
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    Ask if the guests would like dessert when they are done with their meals. In many cases, customers won't order dessert unless specifically asked; the high dollar value of desserts will add to the ticket and boost your tip. If they say no, offer to put it in a to-go box for them, but don't be pushy.
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    Clear away any dishes as the guests finish each course. This is called pre-bussing, and doing this will give the guests more room to spread out, which puts them at ease. Too many dishes makes the table feel cluttered and frustrates the guests. Wait to clear all of entrée dishes once everyone has finished. Clearing one or a few dishes but not all can often make guests who eat more slowly feel rushed or uncomfortable. This is never done at a fine dining establishment.
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    Offer boxes when someone has food left over on her plate. Sometimes, people are willing to pay the high prices for dining out assuming they'll have leftovers for lunch the next day.
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    Try not to clean directly next to the your tables. While you may have to clean your section before you can clock out, you don't want to do it at the expense of your final tips.


  • Ask for help when you need it. The other servers will probably be happy to run food for you or refill drinks.
  • The customer is ALWAYS right. If you cannot accomplish a task or provide a service that the customer has asked for, be on their side and agree that you SHOULD be able to. Though you may not be able to now. Often when you agree with the customer in this way it shows that it is out of your control
  • Drop off the check when you bring the entrees if you're working a lunch shift. People on lunch hour have limited time and they don't want to wait around for you to bring the check. However, in a fine or finer dining situation this may look tacky. In this case simply keep an eye on your tables and offer to drop the check as soon as they are done. If people explicitly notify you that they have time constraints, do everything you can to accommodate them. This is almost always greatly appreciated.

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Categories: Hospitality