Managing servers in any restaurant is a difficult task. Not only are you managing the type of service you’d like provided to your guests, you’re also managing people- every individual person has their own set of challenges, strengths, weaknesses and personal issues. As an effective manager you have to be empathetic to all of those things.
While managing someone’s personality isn’t exactly something you have control over, you can provide suggestions on how to get more tips so that servers can have more successful shifts.
More successful shifts for servers = happy servers = a more successful restaurant with a great atmosphere. It’s a win-win-win.
Here are 8 suggestions to offer servers on how to get more tips:
- Allow servers to sample everything. Servers should be able to try all of the dishes and at least all of the by the glass wines. Everyone has their own personal take on things. Allowing them to have the intel to suggest their personal take at the table will make the experience more authentic and genuine for the guest.
- Encourage servers to have personal favorites. Servers should have a personal favorite bottles of wine, glasses of wine, cocktails, appetizers, entrees, etc. When a server has a go-to recommendation they can quickly and confidently give a recommendation. Confidence breeds trust which helps increase sales.
- Ask for a wine price point. When a guest asks for a recommendation on a bottle of wine, a great starting point is for a server to ask the guest what their price point is. Wine is so expansive and ambiguous. Starting with a price point instantly gives the server a point of reference. From there they can ask white or red, etc. But working within the price point will help sell the best wine at a price the patron is comfortable with. Sometimes it may be more than what a server would just naturally recommend.
- Allow servers to approach management with discounts. Sometimes guests are just not happy with their meal or their cocktail or whatever. Having a policy where servers can use their best judgement and approach a manager to remove something from a guest’s check makes it an environment that will always benefit the guest. At the end of the day, no matter how exceptional the service, if a guest still has to pay for something they weren’t satisfied with, they probably aren’t going to walk away happy.
- Encourage appetizers and desserts. If a table orders just an entree, have your servers recommend a light appetizer or salad first. Have them quote how long the entrees may take (especially on busy nights) and offer a simple salad that can be prepared quickly. This keeps guests from getting “hangry” and increases the check size.
- Offer a variety of beverage options. It’s never a bad idea to open service by asking if a guest would prefer bottled, sparkling or tap. Most people will just drink tap, but when prompted will ask for something a bit nicer. Then, offer wine, beer or a cocktail. If they are not drinking alcohol, offer mocktails or something else that will have a price point larger than just water. At the end of the meal, always offer coffee, espresso, an aperitif, etc.
- Push regulars to try new items. When a server has a guest who is a “regular” and is familiar with the menu, make sure the server points out new menu items that regular may be interested in trying.
- Be attentive. Last, but certainly not least, make sure your server is attentive- not annoying. Being attentive is very important when providing the optimal experience. If a glass of wine or a cocktail is 2/3rd of the way done, ask them if they’d like another. If a meal is taking long to come out, have a server ask them if they’d like to get a quick appetizer.
For any particular restaurant there will be hundred different unique suggestions for servers on how to get more tips. These are just a good, general starting point.
Ask yourself what makes your restaurant unique? What are special dishes, features, etc. that servers can push to a, enhance the customer experience and, b, increase guests’ check amounts.