This blog is personal for me. I spent eight years in the food service industry where I served, bartended, hosted, trained and managed. It was a full spectrum of service-based experience which creates a great foundation for my role at Bernick's.
For servers, tips are the icing on the cake. For everyone who wants to take home a bigger paycheck, trying to figure out exactly what will make your customers more appreciative can be tricky. Share these tips with your servers to get them the tips they deserve, and to make sure your guests become repeat customers.
Provide Quality Service
Everybody knows excellent service makes for a bigger tip. However, a bar or restaurant is a busy place, and both managers and servers can end up distracted from providing the quality service that makes a food service-based establishment thrive.
It's a known fact that many restaurants refer to their customers as "guests." This isn't just friendly: it's the right attitude to take to improve your overall service. Above all, remember your restaurant is like your home; you should be courteous and sincere, always happy to welcome guests into it. You should project the same friendliness and warmth you would to a friend or a relative.
In addition, servers should be attentive to guests' needs. There's a special kind of perception good servers have - think of it as reading the table and adapting the kind of service you offer each group you accommodate. You might have a mom who brings in her three kids and could use more crayons and extra napkins (without asking). Or a couple on a date focused on getting to know each other, preferring as few interruptions as possible. Or you might have an older gentleman who comes in alone for dinner and would love an ear to bend. Gain a sense of what the tables in your section are looking for, and be rewarded for it with happy guests.
I'll add one more tip to the Service section: encourage the servers on your staff to be complete team players. This includes seeing beyond their individual sections and offering service and support to the entire establishment. If a team member has just been triple sat, another server could jump in and help with beverages or answer questions about the menu on their behalf. That swamped server will eventually return the favor. This will foster a non-competitive environment and your staff will learn to work as a team for the benefit and success of the bar or restaurant.
Get to Know Your Guests
Any bar or restaurant will have regulars. Regular guests are like your restaurant's fan club: they know your offerings, and they like them. They're often your bread and butter since they reliably come in and spend a fair amount of money. They might even request a specific server's section when being seated.
Getting to know these guests more intimately is vital to good service. You don't need to get over the top
Even if the guests you're serving aren't regulars, you should still strive to make your service
Keep in mind people don't just come to restaurants to eat food or drink beverages. There's a powerful social component to eating in a restaurant, and it's not just shared with everyone at the table: the server's in on it, too. Making conversation with guests is an art, and you'll notice that as you cultivate it, your tips will reflect it.
How to Upsell Without ... Upselling
Of course, tips are usually calculated as a percentage of the bill. If the bill's bigger, your tip increases. This means you shouldn't be afraid to upsell. Beverages are a great way to upsell: try offering sparkling or mineral water instead of tap water, or remind your customers of craft beer options that represent your local community. However, don't pressure your guests too strongly: the attitude you should maintain is that you care about your guests' experience, and if you were like me when I was in the industry, I strived to make dining out my guests' best part of their day. I truly cared about each table's experience and it made my job more rewarding.
As a bar or restaurant manager or owner, you know there's more to the business than revenue as illustrated above. Share these tips with your team to help increase table sales as well as the server tips' percentage. That's a win-win: they're a sign of customer happiness, and they make servers happy, too. By providing stellar service, tending carefully to guests as individuals and upselling where appropriate, your team can see a big increase in what is generated each and every shift.