How to Increase Tips for Your Restaurant's Servers
It’s no secret that servers are a key part of any restaurant business. Without them, back of house would need to juggle order taking, communication with the kitchen, bringing food out and accepting payments, all while handling cooking and cleaning. There’s no denying that servers work hard, but since tips account for a significant portion of their wages, it’s important to ensure that they’re being compensated appropriately. As a restaurant owner, it’s on you to provide the resources and opportunities that will help your servers thrive, and tips are a great place to start.
In this article, we break down how to increase tips in your restaurant in order to motivate your servers and increase their job satisfaction. And since each restaurant operation differs, we’ll cover the different strategies you can use to increase tips in general, for counter service, and at the table.
Increasing tips in your restaurant is good for your employees and good for business. It indicates that your staff provides excellent service and that customers are satisfied with their experience. No matter where your restaurant is located or what type of cuisine you serve, here are a few ways you can help your staff boost their earnings:
With so many options at their disposal, customer expectations are at an all time high. If your staff takes 60 minutes to get food on the table, customers probably won’t want to tip, and if they do, it won’t be generous. Customers expect a seamless dining experience when they eat out, so it’s essential that you do everything in your power to ensure that you’re able to provide one. There are many ways you can improve your service, but some of the most successful methods include streamlining your menu, using a point of sale system that allows for tableside ordering, and encouraging effective communication between staff members.
Allow curbside pickup
The pandemic increased the amount of customers opting for curbside pickup, but even as restaurants reopen, demand for the service remains steady. It gives customers another way to enjoy food from their favorite restaurants, and they’re happy to pay for it. In fact, more customers are beginning to tip for pickup orders, so offering that convenience can help your servers earn more while you generate more revenue.
Encourage upselling and cross selling
The vast majority of the time, tips are calculated as a percentage of the total bill. And as the total of the bill rises, so do your servers’ tips and your revenue. Upselling and cross selling are great ways to improve customer satisfaction, increase restaurant sales, and boost servers’ wages. You can incorporate them into your business via promotions (i.e. get a beer for 2$ off with the purchase of an appetizer), lunch or dinner specials, offering the option to add cheese or meat to a dish, and more.
While counter service isn’t traditionally associated with tipping, the tides are turning. More and more customers are starting to tip in coffee shops, take out restaurants, breweries, and other hospitality establishments. Here’s how you can get in on the action:
Sign on screen
A sign on screen feature allows you to accept customer signatures and tips on your countertop and tableside POS devices. This makes the payment process more convenient for customers, but more importantly, gives them an easy way to tip your staff in the process. By presenting tip options when customers are prompted to enter their signature, they're more likely to add a tip.
Forced tip response with default values
Customers tip more often and in larger amounts when the process is made easier for them. By including a forced tip response in the payment process, customers must automatically consider whether or not to tip before they complete their transaction. And with default values, there is a greater chance of them selecting one of the options than manually choosing “other” and entering a $0 tip.
As one of the oldest and most proven methods to increase tips, creating a voting system doesn’t require the use of restaurant point of sale technology or even electricity. Simply set up two containers beside one another, and label them with two opposing (bonus points if they’re controversial) options. Common examples include rival sports teams, cats vs. dogs, famous movie characters, and so on. Customers who have extra cash or change from their order can drop tips into whichever option they support. At the end of the day, this friendly competition ends with a memorable interaction for your customers and an overall increase to your staff’s tips.
Pay at the table
As mentioned above, the key to increasing tips in your restaurant is convenience and simplicity when customers pay and tip. If you make it convenient for them to tip while they are completing their transaction, there is a higher chance that they will. Here’s what you can do for guests paying at the table:
Suggested gratuity on receipts
Back in the day, teachers scolded students for using calculators in math class because they shouldn’t expect to have a calculator on them at all times. Turns out they were wrong. Nowadays, everyone has a phone in their pocket, and with every phone comes access to a calculator. However, customers still struggle to calculate tips on their own, especially if they’re not sure about local customs, whether to tip on the pre or post-tax total, etc. Fortunately, you can make it easier. By adding suggested gratuity on the bottom of receipts, you can take the guesswork out of the process, which in turn encourages customers to tip your servers.
Despite mass vaccinations and lower case counts, many customers are still hesitant to dine out. And those who are getting used to eating in restaurants again are still taking precautions when they eat out. Using RPOWER mPay, a feature of RPOWER point of sale technology, you can provide a contactless experience for your customers. By sending them a link or QR code, they’ll be able to view and pay their bill right from their phone, and will even have the option to add a tip. Providing a safe and convenient dining experience is more important now than ever, and customers are happy to show their support, especially when you make tipping easy.