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8 tips to earn higher tips

8 tips to earn higher tips


Whether you have three tables all night or 30, you want to earn as high of a tip as you can from every table. This article will provide tips for waiters to help you make more money waiting tables than you ever have before.

I have been a waitress for 13 years and, for the most part, I earn great tips from my guests. But, I think, more importantly than that, my guests are happy to reward me with their money. That’s the key; earning a tip that your guest is actually happy to give you.


Here are 8 tips that help me make good money, and they will help you too.


#1.  Be cheerful.


I’m a waitress, but I am also a guest. I go out to eat on the regs and I can say, without a doubt, this is one of the easiest ways to make your guest’s happy, yet most waiters don’t do it.

Since it seems to be a lost art form, I’ll tell you what cheery is.

Smile…all the way to your eyes. If you don’t have a reason to be happy, I suggest getting out of the restaurant industry and into therapy. Tackle your issues and come back to the profession when you are in a better place. We don’t need you representing our industry and I don’t want you waiting on me.

Laugh easy. I know, most of the time the joke isn’t funny. We’ve all heard the “I’ll order the Halibut just for the halibut” joke 100 thousand, million times, but your guest doesn’t know he’s not funny, he’s just trying to be your pal, and pals tip their pals well, so don’t f this up, laugh it up.

Be available, without acting like you are put out about it. If your guest has a question, wants to make a comment, or requests something from you, do it with alacrity. [ALACRITY  eh lak reh dee:  brisk and cheerful readiness]


#2.   Equal eye contact


Have you ever been with a few people when someone is telling a story to the group and they just won’t make eye contact with you while they tell it? Or, have you ever been the only person someone makes eye contact with when they’re telling the story?

Too much or too little eye contact is simply bad people/communication skills and you are in the business of communication–be good at it!

Make equal eye contact with the people at your table; even if a guest isn’t looking at you while, for example, you are telling the specials, you should still give them equal eye-time. They can feel your voice on them and they may just pull their manners out of their butt for a minute to look at you back. And then, BOOM, bond created!

The only time I suggest going against this rule is when you are waiting on a couple.

If you are a woman, I would suggest giving the woman more eye contact so she knows you are on her team, a professional, and not a threat.

Men waiting on a couple should give a bit more eye time to the man for the same reasons. (This is just my opinion and what has worked well for me.)


#3.  Inside jokes


If you are having a laugh with your co-workers about something easy, fun and not vulgar (so, let’s say, about 4% of the laughs you have at work) then share it with your guests! Let them be a part of your gang.

One of the worst experiences I ever had, and one of the best lessons I ever learned was from a hip, little restaurant in Denver. I did a stage there for my restaurant service tour and wow–talk about not being included into the cool kids club!  This group blew me off like it was their job. It made me feel horrible and that is no way to make anyone feel, especially guests who are coming to your restaurant to be a part of the cool kid’s club, (and give you money for the honor).


#4.  Model food


There are numerous times in a night where you are asked to describe a dish to a guest. I’m sure you are an excellent describer of food, but why use words when you can let them see the food?

If, for example, you have a table who asks about an entree on the menu, there are countless opportunities in the span of a few minutes where you can swing by your table to model food before you deliver it to its rightful owner.

Modeling food only takes five seconds, “Excuse me, you asked about the beef tartar. Well, here it is! I also have the fresh ceviche which is different than the food you’ve been asking about, but it’s an equally stunning choice.”

This is a great way to let your guests know that you have their back–that you are willing to walk the extra mile for them.


#5.  Tell them you did something special


I love when people make me feel special. When my boyfriend goes an extra mile, I love him just a little more. When someone opens a door for me, I feel a love for humanity. And when I wait on guests, I always tell them that I have done something special for them because I know that statement will make them feel special.

My, “Doing something special” rule doesn’t necessarily have to be a truism. You can fudge the facts.

As a general rule I do not condone lying, but a white lie, for the sake of hospitality, isn’t such a bad thing. What I mean is, even if something is as it would have been anyway, tell them that you did it special for them. Here are some examples of extra-mile, special things that you should tell your guest:

  • “You mentioned that you were excited about the sauce on this dish so I had Chef add a little more on the side for you. Enjoy!” (Even if it’s the same amount of sauce as it normally is, they don’t have to know that.)
  • “This wine is special and you are such a wonderful guest that I wanted to use our really great wine glasses for you to enjoy your wine selection.”
  • “I overheard you mention that you don’t love spicy dishes and this sauce has a little kick so I had the Chef place it on the side for you, that way you have total control.”
  • “I saw you eat your olives right away on that last martini so I gave you an extra olive this round.”
  • “Since you are the only one at the group not drinking a cocktail, I put your water in a pretty glass. Now you have a fancy glass and no hangover tomorrow. What a night!”


You get the idea.


#6.  Be the paparazzi 


This is my golden tip for waiters. Here’s why:

  1. Most people, especially on special occasions, want to share their experience with friends on Facebook or simply have a picture to remember the occasion.
  2. Most people feel uncomfortable asking their waiter to take a picture because…
  3. Some servers act like dicks about it. Don’t be a dick! Be the best server eeevvvveeeerrrrr!!!

How do you be the best waiter ever?  Here’s some tips:


#1.  Ask the guest if you could take their picture for them before they leave. Don’t wait for them to ask you.

#2.  Take the picture at the end of the meal, before they are going to pay. You want their last impression of you to be someone who cares, takes time and gives a genuine S**t.

#3.  Take a million pictures. You can say, one-two-three, but be taking photos that entire time.

#4.  Change angles and flash. I always take about four pictures at three angles:

Head on

From above

From the right

and two with the flash on.

When you return to the table with their credit card to sign you’ll return to them huddled up looking through all the pictures you, their wonderful waiter, took of them.

Just remind them to sign and take their credit card. (They can get so wrapped up in the pictures that they forget.)

Your tip? It’ll be a good one.


#7.   Tell them how awesome they are

(And ask them to come back.)


Many waitresses will say a generic, “Thanks for coming in. Have a good night!” But you’re better than that, aren’t you?

When you deliver their credit card receipt, make it a point to tell them that they were wonderful guests and you would really like to see them again.

The more personal you can be about your good-byes, the better.

If you heard they just bought a house, tell them you want them to come back and tell you how they like it. Is their daughter having a baby soon? Come back and show me pictures! Did they just get a puppy? Come back and tell us how the training is going. Etc.


#8.  Hold the door


I worked at a men’s clothing store for awhile and we had to walk our guests to the door and hold it for them. I have to admit, it was a little uncomfortable in the beginning for me. Not so much the action, but the rule of it. But guess what, once it becomes a habit, it’s no biggie for you and a big deal for the guest.

I now work at a restaurant where the rule is that we hold the door for our guests on their way out and I really can not stress to you the importance of the act.

I get so many handshakes, hugs and promises of a future return that it seems silly that every restaurant doesn’t require this as a part of their service procedure.  It’s such a simple gesture. Remember, hospitality begins with the reservation and ends with the door.


And those are my eight tips that will make you more money, give you more request tables and give you a higher ranking on OpenTable.

So, have fun, be cheery, care and repeat!


Want to be even more badass? Read these articles:


Don’t make amateur mistakes! Here are some suggestions on how to be a good waitress.

Are you the best of the best at your restaurant? There are two ways to make more money and you’ve already done one.

After you read what the two ways are to make more money, check out how to create a BALLER server resume and get my free e-book.

Are you stepping into management and want to sell more wine? My article on How to create a wine menu will help.







  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Good to see you back as I was always a silent spectator!

    I have been following your website since 2013 and it gave me a different perspective on service and how to work in this industry when I started off working as a waiter. I’ve worked myself (and of course our restaurant) up to a Michelin star and owe a little bit of what I do to you.

    Good to see you back,


    • Belfast,

      What a wonderful compliment. I’m absolutely honored. Thank you for your kind words and being a great contribution and representative to our profession.


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