NSC’S TWELVE TIPS OF TIPPING
By Manny Marquez & Dillon Kline
This is our spin on the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas for the hospitality professional on how to increase your income with bigger tips. We all want to maximize the profitability of our shifts. These techniques are not just meant for servers and bartenders, but rather for all positions in hospitality.
What better gift could you give your self this holiday season than getting better at your hospitality profession with these twelve pointers? It’s NSC’s way of saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
You may already know some of these practices, and some you may have never thought about. If you do know some of these techniques, it never hurts to be reminded. If some are new, put them to use and see for yourself.
It is the most important skill as a hospitality professional. We say every time you say your guest’s name, it is like a dollar in your pocket! Associate their name with a unique characteristic of the guest to improve recall. Be sure to use their name often during their visit.
2. Build your OWN Clientele
“Grab” the great tipping guests, have them “commit” to coming to see you often. Make it personal, when they think about going out, you should be the person they want to come to see.
3. Acknowledge Their Arrival
Never ignore someone’s presence in your establishment. Immediately acknowledge your guest’s arrival. Even if you can’t attend to them right away, let them know you are on your way. Let them know you know…you know?
4. Sullivan Nod (subtle upsell)
It’s like a Jedi mind trick! When a guest orders a vodka and soda, offer premium choices. “Kettle One or Grey Goose?” Nod your head “yes” as you ask the question. Box them into a choice of a better-quality product. The higher the check, the higher the tip with the same amount of effort. Bonus – your managers will love your salesmanship and appreciate your higher sales.
5. Provide Them an Experience
Hospitality professionals sell an experience. Food, drinks, and entertainment are mere vehicles. Then there is YOU – how you interact and entertain your guests is the EXPERIENCE. Make their visit memorable! Have witty one-liners and jokes in your repertoire. You should be part of the story when they talk about their fantastic night they had at your establishment.
6. Ask Questions
It is simple, easy, and one question leads to another. People love to tell you about themselves. Asking questions also helps you read the guests and what they are expecting from their visit. “What brings you in this evening?” Use questions to create a genuine connection. You never know who you are going to meet. There are angels everywhere who may be able to help you achieve your own professional and personal goals. By creating a genuine connection that people feel, you are oftentimes rewarded through bigger tips.
7. Keep a Notebook
Not an obvious technique. Keep a small steno notepad in your back pocket and write reminder notes about your regulars. Names, favorite drinks and reminder cues to help you remember them. Part of our job is to make people feel important and special. Being able to recall details is a great way to do that. The fact that you took the time to remember them will surely make them more generous when it comes time to tip
8. Get Close
Studies show that service professionals who squat next to their table when taking orders increased tips from 14.9% to 17.5%*. Appropriate eye contact and closer interaction creates a more intimate connection and in turn enhances the experience of the guest. Proximity
9. Make ID’ing a Getting to Know
Most professionals make the ID’ing process very mundane. Instead, take the opportunity to learn about your guests. Their name, home state, where they live, their birthday. Use it to build rapport. When you hand back their ID, use their name, say “thank you.” See the ID process as a conversation starter.
This gives a window into who they are. We can use that to begin to ask questions (see tip 6) and build rapport with our guests. “What’s the occasion tonight?”, “Happy belated birthday!”, “What brings you to New Jersey?”.
This is also a great opportunity to introduce yourself (especially at the front door). “My name is Dillon, if there is anything I can do for you tonight, please let me know.”
10. Light Contact
According to a study at Cornell University, hospitality professional experienced a tip increase from 11.8% – 14.8%** of the check total when they briefly touched the shoulder of the customer. While younger customers showed the greatest increase in the tip amount, customers of every age showed some increase.
When you introduce yourself, try shaking hands. It further creates a connection with the guest. When it comes time to tip, you have subconsciously created a layer of connection.
11. Put a Story Behind Your Product or Service
Remember, our job is to provide an EXPERIENCE. We can help accomplish that if we put a story behind our products. A story adds value to the product. That increased perceived value will result in higher tips.
People love to feel involved in the process of when you are the host. Explain the drink you are building or how to spot a fake ID. Give them something they can take home with them. It is a thing of value and adds to the experience. It makes you memorable.
Smile – when guests see hospitality professionals enjoying their jobs, they are more likely to enjoy their experience. It makes you a person and not just a cog in the wheel of the operation.
Forecast Good Weather – it is a subliminal technique that helps elevate the guest’s mood and guests will tip more when they are in a good mood.
Write “Thank You” or Doodle on the Guest’s Check. This is a great way to personalize the close of the guest’s visit. Studies have shown that this technique can increase tips as much as 37%.**
When all is said and done, these tips all support connecting with people. When you take the time to connect with, they are reminded that you are acting with their best interest in mind. When they know you are doing everything you can to make their experience more enjoyable, memorable, the majority will show their appreciation with a tip, repeat business, or a great review. You were hired to be in your position because your employer believes you have what it takes to do great things.
We hope these tips can help you make this holiday season the best yet for you and your customers. From all of us here at NSC, Merry Christmas!
*Gueguen, N., Jacob, C. (2005) The effect of touch on tipping. Retrieved from http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/the_effect_of_touch_on_tipping-_an_evaluation_in_a_french_bar.pdf
**Lynn, M. (2005) Increasing Servers’ Tips: What Managers Can Do and Why They Should Do It. Retrieved from https://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1103&context=articles