Restaurant Doctor Hospitality Resources

The Service Pro's Guide to Delighting Diners

50 Tips to Improve Your TipsTrade paperback, 68 pages, 3.5"x5"
Copyright 2015
Published by Hospitality Masters Press
69.95 for 20 copies

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A lot of people liked my first book, Restaurant Basics, but the price made it hard to give one to everyone on their staff. They asked for something more bite-sized. My response was 50 Tips to Improve Your Tips: The Service Pro's Guide to Delighting Diners.

This is a pocket-sized paperback that will help your service staff create more personal connection with your patrons and increase their tips while improving service and guest satisfaction.


The Service Pro's Guide to Delighting Diners


A point to ponder
Tips and tipping in the real world

  1. Be competent
  2. Get a good night's rest
  3. Get into character before you step onstage
  4. Be sure the tabletop is picture-perfect
  5. Offer a sincere compliment

  6. Acknowledge guests within 60 seconds
  7. Stand and deliver
  8. Always talk TO someone
  9. Engage your brain before operating your mouth
10. Learn and use guests' names

11. Remember likes and dislikes
12. Keep your mind off the tip
13. Observe common courtesies
14. Focus on delighting your guests
15. Make personal recommendations

16. Introduce yourself last
17. Suggest alternatives to sold-out items
18. Take good care of single diners
19. Have an opinion about your wines
20. Reinforce the guests' decisions

21. Watch faces
22. Make it easy for large groups
23. Bring extra napkins when appropriate
24. Let guests off the hook
25. Take good care of the kids

26. Present the plate
27. Check back within two bites
28. Pass some good news to the kitchen
29. Replace soiled serviceware
30. Recognize lefties

31. Bring the full one first
32. Speak in complete sentences
33. Give guests something to talk about
34. Be an advocate for your guests
35. Anticipate guests' needs

36. Go the extra mile
37. Move with the speed of the room
38. Bring wetnaps for small children
39. Resolve problems quickly
40. Place the coffee cup handle at 4:00

41. Ask permission before refilling coffee
42. Bring a fresh cup of coffee
43. Settle the check quickly
44. Garnish the doggie bag
45. Help with the coats

46. Invite guests to return
47. Check for forgotten articles
48. Express your gratitude
49. Call immediately on lost and found articles
50. Send a thank-you note

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Tips and Tipping in the Real World
You have chosen to make your living, at least for awhile, in the hospitality industry – one of the few places people go expecting to have a good time!

Unique to this business is the practice of tipping. For most professional service folks in the US, tips are their major income. You can love tipping or hate it, but you can't argue that tips are instant feedback on how your guests feel about your work.

The quality of your interactions with guests not only establishes your income but it also determines how patrons will feel about your restaurant, so in many ways, the success of the entire business is squarely in your hands!

Every service pro wants to do a better job (and make more money) and this little book can help you do just that.

It will offer valuable insights into how you can make your guests feel better-served and how to connect with your guests in a way that can cause them to return more often and leave you more at the end of the meal.

If you take these ideas to heart and make them part of your service style, you should see the results where it counts – in your pocket!

There are basically two ways to earn more tips – increasing your sales and improving the tip percentage you receive from each sale ... and you can do them both!

Let's look at these two options and see how they may figure into your financial future:

Option 1: Increase Your Sales
The normal tip is a percentage of what your guests buy, so higher sales are likely to mean greater tips. The approach most servers take to build sales is to increase the check through a technique called suggestive selling.

Done with sincerity and skill, the suggestive sell can be very effective. Done poorly – and most do it poorly – it can easily come across as insincere, shallow and manipulative.

Another problem is that if you only focus on how much money your guests spend, it is a distraction that gets in the way of establishing the personal connection that determines how well-served your guests feel.

So tips really come from serving people, not just from serving food!

If you get the big sale tonight but lose the guests' future business in the process, then pushing the check average was not a very smart strategy for maximizing your long term income potential.

Another way to build sales is to have guests return more often. When you focus on repeat patronage, your goal is to delight your guests rather than simply trying to increase sales ... although the two can happily co-exist.

Repeat patronage is the safest way to build sales.

If you have a guest who normally comes in twice a month and you can treat them in such a way that they come in three times a month, you’ll increase your sales (and your tips) from this person by 50% ... without any pressure to increase the average check!

One more time a month! 50% more money! Do the math!

Option 2: Increase the Tip Percentage
If your guests left a bigger percentage of the check as a tip you’d also make more money. So, for example, if your tips went from 12% to 24% of sales, you’d double your tip income on the same sales volume!

People tip you for several different reasons. Some will tip because it’s customary. (If you’ve ever served guests from other countries, you know tipping is definitely not the custom in many cultures!)

Even if the service was lacking, some people tip because they’d feel guilty if they didn’t. But the biggest factor in tipping – what usually determines whether diners leave you 10% or 30% – is the level of personal connection you’re able to establish with your guests.

The more rapport you establish, the higher your tip is likely to be. There’s a moment of truth at the end of the meal when they have the cash in their hands or are poised over the credit card slip. If they think, “This waiter was great!” at least they’re more likely to round up a dollar instead of rounding down. On many checks, just that can be a 50% bump!

Do you have regulars who always ask for your station? Do you usually tip out better with them than you do with the average party? Have you ever made more cash on a four-table station than a six-table station? If so, it shows what personal connection can do for your financial well-being!

The good news is that the same thing can happen with virtually every table ... and it can happen more often than not!

Is this idea interesting? Read on and you’ll start to understand how it’s done!

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9. Engage your brain before operating your mouth
How does it feel when you talk to someone who is not listening to you or whose mind is wandering while they speak? Pretty annoying, right? Your guests feel the same displeasure whenever you operate on "automatic." When you address your guests while your mind is distracted, your message is that something is more important to you than they are. This will not help them feel well-served or think of you kindly when it is time to figure the tip! Approach the table, stop and clear your head of stray thoughts. Wait for your guests to look up at you. When they do, be clear about what you have to say ... and say it with a smile in your voice.

16. Introduce yourself last
The server introduction ("Hi, my name is _________ and I'll be your waiter") is stale and boring. Many servers just do it without thinking but you know the risk of speaking without thinking. The sad truth is that when you first approach the table, guests don't know you well enough to care who you are! Wait until you have finished your initial contact at the table and then offer your name if you feel comfortable doing it. ("By the way, my name is Karen. If you need anything, just stand on your chair, yell HELP and I'll be right over!") It is much harder to stiff "Karen" than it is to stiff "the waitress." Since personal connection generally leads to bigger tips, you are on your way!

28. Pass some good news to the cooks
In the same way that you need to be sensitive to the mood of your guests, you will also benefit from being sensitive to the kitchen crew. If you have the support of the kitchen, it will be a lot easier to take exceptionally good care of your guests! Think about it. The cooks are back there knocking themselves out to produce great product under extreme conditions and the only time they hear about it is when something is wrong! To help foster harmony, try to share some good news with the cooks on your trips to the kitchen. Don't break their concentration, but be sure to let them know when guests are loving the food. PS: treat the dish crew with respect, too. They can also help you out!

46. Invite guests back on a specific day for a specific reason
The safest way to build sales is by getting guests to return more often. "Y'all come back now" is pleasant, but it isn't very likely to move people to action. You will generate more repeat business with something specific. If it seems appropriate, consider a comment like "Please come back next Thursday for our fajita special. It's really a great deal. I'll be working that night and I would really enjoy seeing you again." This is more likely to generate a return visit than a simple "thank you." Inviting guests to ask for you on their return is a good way to build a regular following. You probably have a few loyal patrons already and today's strangers can be tomorrow's regulars.

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