Let’s jump right into this tip on how to increase tips. There is a word that we hear a lot in restaurants, that if we heard less of we would make more money, be more confident in our interactions with guests, and as a result we would be more efficient with our time at work. I’m talking about learning how to ask open-ended questions as opposed to closed-ended question.
Open-ended questions are:
Questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, the person answering the question has to answer it in his, or her own words. When you ask open-ended questions you still allow the guest to “reject” or “refuse” what it is you’re asking about, but you aren’t setting them up for an immediate “no” response.
Closed-ended questions are:
There’s a more in-depth explanation to it than this (but I’m a simple kind of guy), so in a nutshell, these are the common questions we ask that solicit a simple “yes” or “no” answer from people.
The way you ask certain questions can make a small to large contribution to your average check, but like anything else, you need to use open-ended questions in moderation. Overuse can become transparent and annoying, yet little use will result in average/normal check totals.
Some examples of asking open-ended questions in a restaurant are:
- What would you like to drink? (easy trap for water, check next option)
- What drink did you see on the menu that you like?
- How many wings would you like?
- What is your preference for vodka (when up-selling martini’s/mixed drinks, This can be asked for any mainstream liquors)
- What side would you like with that?
- How many would you like? (sometimes a question for sharing appetizers/sides)
- What would you like to start with?
- Would you like a cappuccino, latte, espresso? (when a guest asks for coffee, and your establishment offers espresso based coffee’s this is a good question to ask)
- How many would you like for the table? (great for serving parties or groups)
- What would you like for dessert?
- What did you decide on for dessert?
- What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Some examples of asking close-ended questions in a restaurant are:
- Would you like an appetizer?
- Have you been here before?
- Do/would you want something to drink?
- Do you want a side with that?
- Can I get you a dessert?
- How about a limbo competition?
At first it’s going to take a little getting used to, and don’t over-think it, as I mentioned before you don’t want to ask every single question in open-ended form. I found that I benefited most from it when the desert course comes around. I used to ask:
“Would you like anything for dessert?” (which was an easy setup for rejection)
and changed it to one of these:
“What did you decide on for dessert?” or,
“What would you like for dessert, and how many?” (insert cheeky grin here).
I saw an increase in my average check after I changed the way I asked a few questions. If you aren’t used to asking questions this way, just try it out and see how it works for you. Over some time you will get into a habit of asking some of your questions this way, and hopefully you will see an increase on your average checks too.
Thanks and have an awesome week.