Tips For More Tips
Hospitality can be an extremely rewarding career even when you may even be a ‘mere’ waiter or waitress or bartender. Many people may regard these positions in the world as lowly or even unskilled labour. However, I would have to strongly disagree. As with any career option if you are good at what you do you’ll make money, and lots of it! My brief experience shows this certainly applies to the service industry. So get ready to get some insider tips on how to gain a higher percentage in tips from a collaboration of some of the top servers that work in top notch restaurants across North America, as well as what Food and Beverage managers look for when they hire these top notch sales people.
Tip 1 – Be passionate! Someone who can show a tremendous amount of passion and initiative of where they work, who they work with and what they serve are bound to do better in this industry. Would you rather have someone who had to look at the menu along with you as you asked them a question, or would you rather sit back, relax, and have someone describe every dish to you and be given personal recommendations? A personal trick of mine is to describe my ideal meal to the customer, I also go through the ideal wine pairings that we have to offer, and I welcome any questions a guest may have at the table whether it be about the property’s history, our Chef’s story or even the tasting notes of the foods and wines we offer. Sure I have other tables, but I appreciate the questions and helping you truly enjoy your experience does get me excited.
Tip 2 – Interact with your guests and be responsive to them. Essentially you are their guide through the process. Always introduce yourself in a polite and fun manner to get the guest warmed up to you. My ideal behind service is to create a friendship; this takes the pressure off of you being impeccable and creating an immaculate experience and creates the atmosphere that you are entertaining friends at your house. You’ll notice that your guests will tend to show their true colours and be more open to conversations with you rather than creating demands for you to fulfill. Another key piece of advice is to not treat every guest the same; if someone is showing interest in everything on your menu then talk to them, if someone doesn’t even look up at you when you first approach their table then try to stay out of their hair, they are most likely trying to have a nice private night out. The key to all service is that once you get into the market of fine dining the customers have selected to come to you, this puts them in your hands and you can guide them in any way that you want, as long as you don’t force them anywhere. This is the difference between you making a reservation and driving down the street, seeing the golden arches and thinking how amazing a burger would taste at that moment.
Tip 3 – Be fashionable! Once you get into the fine dining environment there are certain requirements to personal deportment, but there are some things you can get away with now that you couldn’t about 20 years ago. I have found the new theory to appearance to be that as long as you have no piece of fashion that could offend a guest then you are fine. At my restaurant I am able to have medium-long curly hair, a beard, an earring, and a watch as well as a bracelet. There are ways in which you can make today’s fashion appropriate for work, but you have to learn how, and once you can figure this trick out you’ll soon be able to get the tattoos that you want (I have three myself), the piercings (with some limitations, usually pertaining to facial piercings) and wear your hair in a neat fashion with limited colouring as well. It’s a sad thing to say, but all front of house staff are hired based on physical appearance, fashion and personality. However, I do know that there are customers that really dislike body/face art and piercings and I can appreciate their feelings.
So take pride in being a front of house-er! Because you’ll find that when you move up the ladder you’ll really be missing the tips, pace and interaction with customers. Many of my ‘back of the house’ friends and managers especially miss the tips that annually can range from a low of $15,000 to well over $100,000/year with their tips (my friend who used to work at a prominent hotel in Toronto was able to amass a small fortune from their time spent in that hotel’s restaurant).
So to anyone who can still look down upon the person who takes care of them in a restaurant, I feel sorry for you, because they work excessively hard to make you as happy as possible, and if something goes wrong nine point nine times out of ten times it honestly isn’t their fault. My advice to students would be get a job as a bartender or server because it’s always nice to walk away with cash in your pocket at the end of every day AND it is a great way to improve your social skills.