Tips for tips

The restaurant industry is probably one of the places that is most associated with the habit of tipping.

More ingrained in the culture in some parts of the world than in others, (the convention is massive in the US, for example) tipping continues to be a very common occurrence when people eat out in the UK.

Waiting staff might well wonder about how they can treat customers in a way that helps make them more likely to leave a bigger tip.

After all, these sums – a thank you from the people eating and arguably a sign that you've done a good job – can really help boost the amount you earn from your work.

Hold up though: It goes without saying that good service needs to be universal and staff need to be putting in their best efforts whenever possible.

In some ways, tips may be a good motivator to give excellent service, but waiting staff shouldn't, under any circumstances, allow their effort to slacken when they sense that a tip is unlikely. This would be incredibly unprofessional.  

Follow these tips though, and it could be that you see more tips rolling in as a side effect of the excellent service you're providing.

Make that extra effort at conversation

Not everyone has time to chat to their waiter or waitress in any depth. But making your service reflect some personality can help to make a customer warm to you. For example, making a menu recommendation that's from the heart and based on your personal food preferences could go down well in the right circumstances when a customer asks you for advice on what to eat.

Small talk at an appropriate time of the meal can also keep the relationship going well – though don't make the mistake of spending too long on this or asking anything too personal.

Less is more

Your employer may well advise you on which stages of a customer's experience you need to be involved with.

These will be important rules to follow, but when it comes to providing extra interaction over and above your training, remember that customers can become weary of waiting staff who demand too much of their attention and constantly ask for reassurance that a meal is going well, for example.

This sort of behaviour can look like you're fishing for tips. Customers have come to a restaurant to spend time with family, friends or people they know – they don't want to be interrupted any more than necessary, so knowing when not to intervene with a table is important.

Use your instincts

Delivering the very best service is all about having an instinct for helping at the moments when you're needed and getting out of the way in the moment when you aren't.

So keep your eye out for things you may be able to help with – many of which you'll no doubt be trained to be attuned to – for example, offering children's drawing materials to a party with kids.

Customers will often be impressed if you can subtly pre-empt their needs. For example, if you see a family with a baby, don't just fetch the high chair, let them know where the baby change facilities are, making clear that this is 'just in case' not a hint that their baby's nappy needs changing!

There are lots of other small ways you can help and really boost a customer's experience, without going over the top and irritating them.