Thursday, July 12, 2007

Phil's Server Tip Of The Day.

Be generous.

As a server, you are depending on your customers tips for your income. This is hard logic for some to understand. (See Steve Buschemi in Reservoir Dogs.) Often, customers see servers through a haze of suspicion. At best, viewing their every move as some attempt to increase their tip. At worst, they fear we have poisoned them. (See Fight Club.) Sure, I've known some mercenary, customer-hating servers in my day, but most, at the very least, just want you to enjoy your meal.

An excellent way to calm a customer, endear them to you, and help insure they return to give you their business is generosity. Buy them a drink. Whatever they are drinking, or a cup of coffee at the end of the meal. Buy their appetizer and start your relationship off with a sign of goodwill. Buy them a dessert and drop it at the table with a, "Thanks for dining with us, I hope you enjoy this pie. On me." Leaving them with a positive impression at the end of the meal.

Of course, there are restrictions depending on what kind of boss you have. Even if your restaurant has a strict policy against this kind of behavior you can usually find a way to do it. There's a couple things to remember: 1. As a server, you earn the bulk of your income from the tips your customers leave, making them your true "boss." Help them feel that way. 2. Your boss should always be reminded that return business is the best business. Spoiled customers come back, and they tell their friends about your generosity.

There are other ways to exercise generosity. Take your time at the table, indulging them in their questions. Refill drinks without being asked. Welcome them when they arrive. Thank them often for dining with you. Get creative and come up with some on your own.

There are many options, but I think the best way is through free stuff.

That's a "thank you" everyone understands.

12 comments:

TA said...

Does Peter know about this??? Hee-hee! I had to remind some folks when I left...the "free" stuff they had gotten would porbably be ending!

TA said...

Oops...I meant probably!:)

Natalie said...

I love getting free stuff. It doesn't happen enough.

Phil said...

TA - As long as he doesn't know...

Natalie - You are invited to Jury's on Lincoln for a free drink.... When I work.

Elizabeth said...

I judge the waiter based on how often he/she serves drinks. As long as a beverage is always handy, I'm satisfied.

michelevil said...

i love the new Server Tip Of The Day. it's very strange living in a country where they don't tip. we can't break ourselves of the habit and it infuriates our aussie pals. "they make a good wage!" we always hear. but somehow we just can't order a beer without at least leaving the change on the bar... so we've gone down to tipping 10% which still feels just wrong to me, but our local pubs love us.

Phil said...

Elizabeth - So many people do. It's important to keep it full.

Michelevil - I did the same thing in Amsterdam, but I think it had the opposite impact. They hated me even more.

Johnny Yen said...

Good point. The goodwill produced by buying a drink or dessert that cost the restaurant little goes way beyond what it cost the restaurant.

I think you were in LA still a few years ago when Pete, in his weekly memos, gave us servers wide latitude in pleasing our customers-- it was after a number of new restaurants opened nearby, and the restaurant suffered the first-ever decline in business one year. That included comping things to regulars.

dave's cousin lisa said...

phil I like your server tip of the day... I would like to add a "Customer tip of the day": it is nice to talk to your server like the actual person that they are... I hate nothing more than when a server is truly being nice and people treat them like they are at the bottom of a pond (and I have never been in the food serving industry- so this comes solely from the customer POV only!)When I actually "interact" with a server they seem to be more at ease- one time we talked briefly to our server (Brian) during a meal without the kids and the next time we had brought the boys with us he saw us come in and he said "hey- you came back and even brought the boys with this time!" That was very cool. So it's nice I think for the customer and the server - there's that personalization. Anyways -- that's my perspective...oooh unless that annoys the crap out of you I don't know- maybe that's an industry no-no- I would hope not -but that (customer/server interaction) has more of an effect on me than whether I get free stuff or not.

Geo said...

Given my connections to the service industry, I've become a much more generous tipper overall. I start at 20% and often go up from there.

I will, however, go under if the service warrants it – down to 15% or so. If you're a real asshole, tho, I'll go lower if I think a point needs to be made.

Phil said...

Johnny - Yeah, I tell him I give stuff out. I think he's just sick of dealing with complaints and would rather we deal with them.

Lisa - Sounds like a good server you had. It sucks to get talked down to, but I happens in almost all areas of customers service.

Geo - You are a good man. I've waited on you. I should let you critique me.

Frank Sirmarco said...

As long as the waiter's balls don't end up in my marinara sauce, I usually tip 20%.