Making a living as a waiter is tough.
Not only are you earning less than minimum wage, but you also are reliant on the cash tips you earn.
The good news in this is that you have some control in the tips you earn.
While you cannot require a customer give you 20% tips, you can greatly increase the odds they give you a 20% tip by taking the steps to be an outstanding server.
In this post, I highlight 12 tricks to help you get more money as a waiter.
By putting these tips into action, you will begin to notice more income from tips than before.
And the good news is you can start using these tips right away!
12 Tricks To Get More Money As A Waiter
#1. Have A Great Attitude
The most important thing you can do to earn more cash as a waiter is to have a positive attitude.
This isn’t to say you have to come off as overly happy with an annoying nothing is wrong attitude.
Just be polite, smile and be happy you have customers to wait on.
Nothing ruins a meal out faster than a rude waiter.
And this negative first impression will most times result in a lower tip.
#2. Find A Way To Connect With Your Table
This tip is tough to do because it is a fine line to walk.
You want to make small talk with your table to build a connection.
But you have to remember they are there to eat, not make new friends.
So if someone comes in with shopping bags, you can make small talk about shopping and how you really need to get out to shop as well.
But leave it at that.
Don’t go into the full backstory why or give more details.
Simply make the connection and then get to work.
Practice trying to read people while at work and when not at work.
Look for the little clues that tell you who is in a rush and just wants good, fast service and who is looking to have an experience.
The better you get at this, the more dramatically you can increase your tips.
This is because every person will get exactly the kind of service they want from you.
#3. Be Attentive To Your Table’s Needs
One of the more annoying things as a customer is when I am eating and the server never comes over.
I need a refill of my drink, but they don’t come over until I am done eating.
Or, something is wrong with my order and my waiter goes missing so I have to flag down another server.
You need to be attentive to your table.
Come back and check on them.
I love nothing more than a waiter who brings me a refill of my drink before I need it.
Additionally, take note of the situation.
If a family comes in, the kids are going crazy and the parents just want to get out, bring them the check early so they don’t have to wait for it.
Anything you can do to make the experience better will result in bigger tips.
#4. Don’t Be A Pest
With that said, don’t be a pest.
Don’t ask them how their meal is a second after they get their food.
They haven’t even had a chance to take a bite yet.
Here is a great trick to be attentive to them without being a pest.
Make it a point to walk by the table a few times. Just don’t stop every time to ask them how their meal is.
Simply walk by so they know you are still around and can stop you if they have a need or a question.
When you walk by, make note of what you see.
Is their drink low? Get a refill and give it to them without them needing to ask.
Is it a messy meal? Bring them some extra napkins.
Is the table overflowing with plates? See if there are any empty ones you can take to clear some space.
It is these little things that make a difference.
#5. Exceed Expectations
When you can exceed customer expectations, you are doing great.
There are endless ways of doing this.
If someone is having a bad day, comp them a free drink.
If a family comes in, get the kids extra crayons or make it a point to try to get the kids orders to the table fast.
Do your best to find ways to go above and beyond what your typical duties are.
This will lead to more opportunities for you to earn larger tips.
Additionally, try to remember who the regulars are.
If you can remember these people and what they typically order, they will tend to pay you in more tips because they will feel a connection with you.
#6. Don’t Let Customers Get You Down
It is going to happen eventually.
You will follow all the tips to make more money as a server and still you will have people that don’t tip or tip very little.
Or you will get customers who are rude and never seem to be happy.
You can’t let these people rub off on you.
You have to do your best to stay positive and happy.
Understand that they have things going on in their life they are dealing with and instead of dealing with it in a healthy way, they are taking it out on you.
It’s nothing you did or didn’t do. It is all them.
Do your best to look the other way and not internalize their negativity.
#7. Improve Yourself
Here is a tip many people overlook as a way to earn more money as a waiter.
When you improve yourself, you increase the odds of more success and more opportunities in life.
There are many ways you can improve yourself so you become a better server.
For example, talk to the bartender so you know what wines go best with which dishes so you can make suggestions to your table.
Learn the art of selling so you can describe the specials in a way that make the customer interested and doesn’t come off as selling.
Improving yourself this way will have a positive effect on your happiness and your earnings.
And it doesn’t stop with learning new things either.
We all make impressions based on what we see.
So make sure you are smiling when you greet your table. Make sure you look presentable as much as possible.
All of this will help you get more money as a waiter.
#8. Learn The Menu
Make it a point to learn the menu completely. Customers may ask you what is better between two options.
Or they may have questions about how a dish is prepared.
By knowing the menu, you can answer their questions and not have to leave to check with someone else.
Not only does this save time, but it makes the customer happier.
When going out to eat, we all want good service. We don’t want to be waiting around while you get answers to our questions.
#9. Write Orders Down
When you are taking customer’s orders, make it a point to write down their order.
I see more and more waiters not write down orders. The very first time I saw it, it blew my mind.
But after seeing it so many times, I see the downside.
When I go out to eat, something is wrong with my order more times when the waiter doesn’t write down the details versus when they do.
It only takes a couple extra seconds to write the order down, but it is critical you get it right if you want to earn more money.
While you might think you can remember to put the dressing on the side or the burger didn’t want tomatoes, things happen.
You get interrupted on your way back to the kiosk to enter the order.
Your manager calls you over or you have to sing happy birthday to another guest.
Next thing you know, you forgot and the order comes out wrong.
Now you look bad and suffer the consequences.
#10. Pick Up A Shift As Bartender
Another great way to earn more money as a waitress is to try to pick up a shift as a bartender.
This isn’t possible at all restaurants, but in some cases it is.
You will need to know how to make some mixed drinks, but for the most part, it isn’t hard work.
The reason I suggest this is the money.
You can make a lot of cash in tips as a bartender.
Plus, the experience could be used to become a bartender at a bar or club where you could earn even more money in tips.
#11. Keep Your Boss Happy
Keeping your manager happy is critical to earning more money as a waitress.
This can be picking up shifts when another waiter calls out sick, to staying late to help clean up and close the restaurant.
Basically, it means do everything you can to make your bosses job easier.
When you do this, your boss will reward you with the best shifts and might even be willing to pay you a little more as well.
#12. Be More Efficient
The faster you can move customers along, the sooner you can sit new customers at your table.
And the more people at your tables, means more tips you earn.
Of course, you don’t want to rush your customer out the door and risk earning a lower tip or give them an unhappy experience.
But if you make it a point to get to them right when they sit down to run through the specials and take their drink order, you can start the process.
Be attentive when they are done and give them their check promptly.
Then make sure the bus boy gets your tables cleared fast.
One trick to get them to clear your tables is to offer them a cut of your tips. Since you both come out ahead it is win-win.
And over time, as the hostess understands your tables are open, they will begin seating people at your tables more often.
#13. Be Open To Switching Employers
Never allow yourself to be stuck in one place.
Always be looking for better opportunities.
When you are working at your current employer, use these tips to be the best server you can be.
This way, when an opening comes at a better restaurant that is fancier and offers a better salary and higher tips, you can get that job.
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But don’t switch employers just because of the money. Be sure to understand the other restaurant fully.
Ask current employees their thoughts.
The last thing you want is to chase the money only to find the boss is horrible to work for.
As tough of a job as a waiter is, you can earn more money in tips if you follow the advice in this post.
While there is no concrete amount that you can expect to earn, you should see over time an increase in the amount you earn in tips.
The bottom line is to put these tricks into action and then be patient as they will begin to pay off in the form of larger tips.