Tips That Will Help Waiters to Make More Money

Updated on March 21, 2018
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Dreamworker has a lifetime of business, career and financial experience she shares with her readers here.

In 2014 there were just under 2,500,000 people working as waiters and waitresses in the US.

In 2016, their median income was just under $20,000 per year. This isn’t much considering how much physical labor they must expend in order to do their jobs.

Also, while some earn more than this, most earn much less.

This is because hourly wages are extremely low, which means they mostly depend on the tips they receive from customers in order to earn.

While some servers only do this type of work to help support themselves while they are in school, others depend on it to pay their bills.

No matter their situations, it’s a good idea for people in this profession to do all they can to maximize their incomes.

Below are some ways for them to do this.

Advice that will help waiters and waitresses to improve their earnings.
Advice that will help waiters and waitresses to improve their earnings. | Source

Keep the Boss Happy

All restaurants have guidelines for dress and behavior that they expect employees to follow. Some of them may seem stupid, but if your boss wants you to follow them, you had best do so.

An employer is much more likely to give the better shifts and tables to employees he likes, so if you want to earn more, keep your boss smiling!

Make the Customer the King

How servers deal with diners is one of the main things that helps them to get larger tips.

A smile and a pleasant, welcoming attitude can go a long way towards achieving this goal.

Just as important are those extra little touches you provide such as making sure that you get the food to the table as quickly as possible and get it right.

Doing everything possible to provide the best level of care to anybody who dines at one of your tables is one of the best ways to get bigger tips.

Below is a video that, although very funny, points out many things that servers do that are tip killers. As it turns out, the customers were in on the joke and the restaurant encourages wait staff to sass customers, but it's worth a watch!

Find Jobs in Quality Restaurants

While it is difficult for beginners to get jobs in the better restaurants, those with more experience really should try to find work at those that have a wealthier clientele and charge more for their food.

People who have more money are much likelier to order more costly food, side dishes, desserts and drinks. Each time they order these extras, tips rise because servers earn a percentage of the total bill.

Tips average from 10% to 20% with 15% being the norm for average service. This means that if a table of four at a quality restaurant orders $100 worth of food, a server can make $15.

If he is servicing four tables and it takes approximately one hour for people to dine, this means he has the potential of making $60 per hour.

On the other hand, if he is working at a diner, dinner for four might only cost around $60 and tips could go as low as 10% because this is all people can afford to pay. So instead of earning that $60 per hour income on four tables, the server may only earn $24.

Of course, these are only averages, so amounts may be higher or lower than stated. The point, however, is that you have the potential of doubling your income if you find a job working at a quality restaurant.

Servers can earn bigger tips when working in restaurants that charge more for their food.
Servers can earn bigger tips when working in restaurants that charge more for their food. | Source

Work Better Shifts

It is common knowledge among restaurant servers that some shifts pay more than others.

This is because prices go higher as the day moves forward, and weekends are when more people go out to eat and are more likely to order extras.

Most restaurants try to balance shifts so that all of their employees have an equal chance to earn, but the more good hours you work, the more you will make.

Don’t Ignore Your Customers

When people come into a restaurant, they usually are hungry. Servers who ignore them for long periods of time really irritate them.

The end result is that they do not leave a tip because few people will pay for poor service.

Leave Your Problems at Home

If you are having a bad day, don’t lay your problems on diners.

People don’t come to restaurants to be your personal counselors. They come to relax, have a good meal and get away from their own problems.

Rudeness and anger are rarely tolerated and certainly will not produce tips!

Write Orders Down

Some servers kid themselves into thinking that they are so smart that they don’t have to write down the orders people give them.

Doing this almost always results in mistakes such as

  • putting dressing on food when the request was to put it on the side
  • serving meat that has not been prepared as requested and
  • bringing regular rather than decaffeinated coffee to the table.

When these things happen, income drops.

Know the Menu

Diners expect waiters and waitresses to know what’s on the menu and how much items cost.

They don’t want to wait for

  • a server to disappear in order to find the information they need, or
  • be served the wrong meal.

It is not enough to say “I’m not sure” and then leave a customer guessing about prices, and nobody wants to get a check that is incorrect, either.

Bring Side Items to the Table

When serving a meal, it is important to supply side items such as water, creamer, sugar, sweetener, condiments, extra napkins and straws without being asked to do so when you are serving the meal.

Diners who must request these things feel put upon and find themselves wondering why they have to ask for items which should automatically be supplied.

Don’t Intrude

People do not like it when waiters or waitresses interrupt their conversations or involve them in lengthy personal conversations.

While it’s a good idea to quietly come around a few times to refill drinks and clear dirty dishes, it’s not a good idea to insert yourself into the social aspects of the meal or interrupt private conversations that people are having.

Those who find ways to be pleasant and friendly without becoming intrusive are the servers who get better tips.

Attend to Your Diners

On the other hand, servers who place a meal on the table, walk away and are rarely if ever seen again are also an agitation for diners.

People expect workers to show up every so often to bring drink refills, checks or doggie bags. When they don’t, they cannot expect to get good tips.

The Bottom Line

Clearly there is much more to being a waiter or waitress than just carrying food from a restaurant’s kitchen to a customer’s table.

It’s important to remember that while tips are the main source of income, they are not a “given”.

If waiters and waitresses want to earn more money, they can do so easily simply by following the advice in this article.

Do you tend to leave larger tips for servers who do the things mentioned in this article?

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    © 2017 Sondra Rochelle

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