This might seem like a strange aside to my normal type of post, however asides can be
good and I thought it would be a fun post to write.
It’s always good to reach out and touch different people in different ways.
Like many people, I’ve done my fair share of jobs on the side and also like many people I’ve done bar work and waiting on tables in restaurants as a means of earning extra money. It was working in a restaurant that I really learned the 3 golden rules I’m going to share with you. I found it also works in places like bars too.
If you have experience of where these rules work in areas other than restaurants/cafés and bars, then I’d love to know. Please feel free to comment on here, or contact me on Twitter and let me know.
Some people love waiting on tables and it’s their full-time work, whereas as I’ve said, others do it on a part-time basis to top up their income. I think that given the way most restaurants and cafés work, they prefer part-time staff because it’s cheaper for them, but I actually think they’re missing a trick – but that would be another article altogether.
If you’ve done this work before you’ll appreciate that it’s at the low end of the pay scale.
Some places still pay less than the minimum wage and that’s scandalous. To be honest, I have no idea why people put up with that.
I did it for a couple of years, just for the extra money and I learned a few tricks that dramatically increased my tips, and I mean dramatically.
Thankfully I always worked for those places where your tips are yours, and not shared out amongst everyone. Nevertheless, even if you work for a place that splits the tips evenly it’s better to increase the overall pot and ultimately your share, right?
Anyway, I’m quite chatty by nature and in chatting with other waiting staff it was apparent that some got more tips than others. I started watching them in action while I was working and it was clear to me why some got tipped better than others.
Even now when I eat out, I still watch how waiting staff operate, and I’m pretty sure I can predict the ones who get the best tips.
It turns out that there are identifiable patterns and behaviours, which if followed will increase how much people tip you.
I need to add here that whilst most waiting staff (in my modest experience) tend to be female, there is also a pattern that works for the boys too.
Okay, so here goes –
#1 – Be smart.
I think this goes without saying. Most places have a dress code. Don’t just follow the dress
code – work it. Make sure it’s clean, with no stains.
My key tip here is, and this applies to both sexes, if possible, wear things that enhance your figure – flaunt it a little. Girls, I don’t mean slutty, I mean smart, professional with a suggestion of your sexuality on show.
Girls – make sure your blouse or top is tucked in. If possible a little, and I mean a little cleavage is a good thing. Skirts should be tight, made with lycra to give you freedom of movement and comfort. Personally I’d avoid trousers, unless they’re the uniform.
Boys – similar to girls. And yes, when I’m eating out and being served by a male, I like to watch those buns walk away, so they shouldn’t be hidden by loose fitting trousers/jeans. Show those buns off boys.
When we’re smart it pushes the buttons of those around us.
And if they even if they don’t notice, you can pretty much guarantee they would if you were scruffy.
#2 – Reach out to them
If you’re like me you might be thinking – Oh, that’s just not me!
By nature I’m quite introverted and a little shy, and I used to feel really awkward in social situations. But I learned a few tricks to help me out.
Here’s a really good one – people like to talk about themselves.
I’m just going to repeat that –
People like to talk about themselves.
Just about everybody will tell you they don’t because they don’t want to appear
egocentric, but at heart they really do.
But how do you get people talking about themselves?
Try this idea out – find something you like about them and ask them about it.
Your job is to listen.
You might think that’s hogwash, but if you think about your friends – somewhere along the line there was a common interest that you both started talking about.
And if you still disbelieve this – then check your Facebook page. What are most of the posts in your feed about?
The key here is not to force it.
People can tell if you’re insincere.
We’ve probably all seen those fake people who suck up and arse lick other people, and if you watch the reaction of the person on the receiving end you’ll notice it doesn’t go down too well.
If a man looks good in his jacket, tell him.
If you like a lady’s dress, ask here where she got it.
They’re wearing a watch or jewellery you like – talk about it.
You get the idea right? I’m not going to give you phrases to use because they must come from you and be the type of words you would use naturally.
If you’re unsure about this, try it out with your friends. Pay attention to them and when you notice something you like, talk about it.
I know I said I wasn’t going to put phrases in your mouth, however these are some of the things I’ve said –
‘That’s a wonderful accent, whereabouts are you from?’ – to an Irish chap.
‘I love your shoes, I think my friend would love them. Can I ask where you got them?’ – to a lady wearing a fabulous pair of heels.
‘Wow, that watch is huge. It’s really manly.’ – to a chap wearing the biggest watch I’ve ever seen.
‘Those earings are so pretty… can I ask where you got them?’ – to a lady wearing the sweetest little pair.
You might have noticed I like the phrase can I ask? I find it quite gentle and not too imposing.
Yes, I know it seems obvious, but no one likes miserable serving staff in any area of life.
Miserable staff make customers feel like they’re not wanted.
And everyone wants to be wanted.
I know, I know – sometimes you’re having a crap day and the last thing you feel like doing is smiling.
You’ve got a choice here.
You either pick yourself up, force a smile and get out there, or, don’t smile and don’t expect many tips.
The choice is yours.
Always be polite.
It goes without saying.
Who wants to be served by rude staff.
No one, that’s who.
It’s like that film with Patrick Swayze – Roadhouse, where he plays a bouncer, or cooler as they’re called in the film.
‘Be nice…always be nice.’
It’s a golden rule, and it’s a golden rule because in every field it’s a key factor in bringing in the gold.
Right, now on to the big finish.
It’s possible this might be little controversial.
#3 – Touch them – physically
I’m pretty sure I heard you scream, either internally or externally as you read that.
But I’m not kidding.
I got the biggest tips from the customers I made physical contact with.
Do not misunderstand me –
I am NOT talking about sexual contact.
Let me explain.
You take someone’s order and as you leave with a departing comment like ‘We’ll get right on this,’ you briefly palm their shoulder as you pass them.
You’re collecting the cutlery they won’t be using because they’re not having a starter and they hand it to you, so you thank them and give a quick thank you touch on their forearm.
You’re squeezing between two customers sat back to back and quite close together. ‘Excuse me,’ you say and place your hands on their shoulders as you pass.
Have you got the idea?
Small innocuous touches, a little tactility – it goes a long way.
At this point I have to say that girls seem to get better results with this than boys.
However, one very manly male waiter I knew would greet men with a handshake.
‘Hi, my name is Rob, and I’m your waiter for the night…’
Rob was always tipped highly.
I also watched him guide ladies to the tables and make subtle, gentle touches to their upper arms and shoulders as he guided them.
So just to stress – this is not sexual and your intention is not sexual.
It’s all part of reaching out, and touching someone.
I could go into all the science about oxytocin hormone release and so on – but hey, you’ve got Google right? And besides, I’m no scientist.
So, just to briefly summarise. There are strategies that can increase your tips, and it’s better if these all flow naturally from you.
#1 – Be Smart in appearance,
#2 – Reach out – be polite, smile and connect with people,
#3 – Touch – it pays to learn the art of subtle tactility.
I’d love to know how you get on or if you have some experiences to share.
Please feel free to either in a comment here, or find me on Twitter.
Please share this post so that others can benefit – there are so many people working these low paid positions.