How to Increase Tips – Tip 5

Here we go with tip number 10. I’m glad I started this string of blog posts on how to increase tips because I have had a lot of positive feedback for my previous posts and some different opinions on some topics, so thank you to everyone for letting me know what you think and that it’s helping you out.

This topic on how to increase tips is going to be about giving change.

It’s a simple thing to do that can help you make a few extra dollars here and there from your tables if you’re smart with how you give change back to the customer.

One thing I will say is that you should always assume that your guests want change, asking the question “Do you need change?” can come off as you being greedy and you could also short change yourself.

You need to find a balance, this is based on a few things:

  • Bill total
  • Separate bills
  • Part cash, part credit/debit card
  • Automatic gratuity

So let me go through the points mentioned.

Bill total

If you have a bill that is $28.25 and you’re given $50 would you give them back:

  1. a $20 bill and $1.75 in change.
  2. a $10 bill, 2x $5 bills and $1.75 in change.
  3. 3x $5 bills, $6.75 in change.

Your balance should go towards option number “2”. You’re not overburdening your guests with the change given in option “3” and you’re not making your guests either rummage around for change in their wallets or purses or making them ask you to break the $20 you just gave back to them in option “1”. Also in option “1” if they have no change on them you run the risk of getting just the $1.75 in change, which is less than an 8% tip for this bill.

Separate bills

Not all restaurants allow separate bills and in fact, I have been in places which have signs up stating that separate bills are forbidden. You will get tables who will have some people paying by credit card and the others with cash. I urge you to get the credit cards processed first. This way when you return to the table to deal with the cash people you have the others filling in their credit card slip (It’s a time management thing). Now do a swoop around the table with the cash people and get their change organized using the balance method above.

(Also note that in some situations where parties are involved there may already be a gratuity added to the bill, if this is the case I generally would go with option “1” mentioned above because anything after that auto gratuity is just a bonus)

Part cash, part credit/debit card

Although to some this may sound a little troublesome it’s very easy if you just communicate with your table if they are paying this way. If there was a bill for $172.50 and you see $100 cash and a card you just ask:

So would you like to pay $100 in cash and the remaining $72.50 on the card or do you need a certain amount on the card then change given?

Clear communication with your guests here is key. In some circumstances, they may want to pay $120 or $140 on the card and the rest is for you etc. Just ask the question.

Automatic gratuity

I’ve worked in a few places that allowed the servers to add a gratuity to a table if they thought they might not get a good tip, it was for a number of reasons servers did this, but in the end it came down to servers profiling their guests (I have a post Profiling Your Guests – Why You Shouldn’t which is an important lesson).

Just because a table has an automatic gratuity on it doesn’t mean you should give that table anything less than your best service, even though you know you already have your tip secured doesn’t mean you should do the bare minimum for them.

If a party is paying a bill in cash with an automatic gratuity on it you should remind them that the gratuity is already on the bill (I don’t like servers who try to be sneaky to see if they can get another tip on top of the auto gratuity), not to say that the ones who don’t mention it are that way, but I find that reminding your guests is the courteous thing to do.

Also, some people may not have been aware of it, in one circumstance I remember another server at a restaurant I worked at had a woman tip her $20 on her credit slip on top of her automatic gratuity which was around $18. She called back the next day and asked to have the $20 tip on the credit slip to be removed because she was unaware of the auto gratuity. To avoid this possible headache and just remind your guests about it.

I know I’ve rambled on a lot about this topic on giving change but I like to explain why I do each of these so you get an idea of how it can also benefit you.

If you have any questions be sure to ask away.

Thanks for reading.