How to increase tips – Tip 20

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

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.


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