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Increasing Tips in Less Than Two Hours: Impact of a Training Intervention

Many studies have shown that restaurant employees who use tip-enhancing behaviors such as smiling, introducing oneself by one’s name or writing “thank you” on the bill receive more tips.

The study by Sage group of researchers was conducted on 143 employees who worked in 62 restaurants. Sixty-nine participants took part in the training intervention and after it the quantity of tips was tracked over 5 days.

Results showed that participants who followed the training intervention used more tip-enhancing behaviors, that a higher use of tip-enhancing behaviors was related to higher amount of tips and that the effect of the training intervention on the amount of tips was fully mediated by an increase in the use of tip-enhancing behaviors.

Touching, smiling, greeting, drawing happy faces, and other simple actions are the easiest and the most working path to increase servers' tips.

At La Classe we’ve studied a number of articles where key figures of industry have recommended various solutions to keep professionals, among them:

  • hiring experienced people;

  • developing career paths for hourly employees;

  • communicating the company's culture, goals and expectations through the interview process and employee-orientation programs;

  • providing day care for employees' children, as developing scholarship;

  • using reliable selection tests that identify long-term employees;

  • recruiting new employees through referrals from current employees...

But the fact is: people work to make money, and dissatisfaction with income is one cause of turnover.

In this article we will communicate several tips to the management to use it, or feel free to call La Classe to help with the 2 hour training.

Let’s start from the shocking one: Touching Customers

Touching is a powerful form of interpersonal behavior that can communicate many feelings: from affection and social support ro disgust.

In commercial settings, casually touching customers has been shown to increase the time they spend in the shop and the amounts they purchase.

Being touched may also increase the tips that customers leave their servers. Crusco and Wetzel tested that possibility at two restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi.

Case Study:

Three waitresses at two restaurants randomly assigned their customers to one of three touch conditions:

  1. customers were not touched;

  2. customers were casually touched on the shoulder once;

  3. customers were casually touched on the palm of the hand twice.

The effects of the touch manipulation were significant. Customers left an average tip of 12 percent when not touched, 14 percent when touched once on the shoulder, and 17 percent when touched twice on the palm.

The results of those studies suggest that managers should encourage servers to briefly and casually touch their customers. But many managers will feel uncomfortable with that recommendation; they will fear that customers would object to being touched.

However, researchers have found that customers whose behavior has been influenced by touches are often unaware that they have been touched.

During the tip-enhancing coaching process with La Classe we will work out the way to touch naturally showing positive attitude.

Server Introduction

Servers sometimes introduce themselves by name when greeting their customers. It make the server seem friendly and polite.

Garrity and Degelman tested an expectation to increase tips in such a way in an experiment conducted at a Charlie Brown's restaurant in southern California.

Case Study:

"Good morning. My name is Archie, and I'll be serving you this morning. Have you ever been to Charlie Brown's for brunch before?"

Of course, the selfintroductions need to be genuine and professional. That what we will train with the participants to the group at the tip-enhancing behavior two hours coaching process. Because the phrase "Hi, I'm Archie, and I'll be serving you this evening" can be irritating if said in an uncaring or automatic way.

The easiest one for today: Smiling at Customers

Smiling is a well-known tactic of social influence. Many researches has found that smiling people are perceived as more attractive, sincere, sociable, and competent than un-smiling people.

Case Study:

Customers sitting alone in the lounge were used as subjects.

The waitress randomly assigned half of them to receive a large, open-mouth smile and the other half to receive a small, closed-mouth smile.

The customers receiving a small smile left an average tip of 20 cents, while those receiving a large smile left an average tip of 48 cents.

Writing " Thank You" on Checks

Servers sometimes write "Thank you" and sign their name on the backs of checks before they deliver them to their customers.

Those expressions of gratitude definitely increase the perceived friendliness of the server, which would increase tips.

Or Drawing a Happy Face :-)

Some waitresses draw a "happy face" on the backs of checks.

Those drawings are likely to have several effects:

  1. They may personalize the server to customers and thereby increase the empathy for the server;

  2. They may communicate to customers that the server is happy to have served them;

  3. And they may simply make customers smile themselves and thereby improve their mood.

Restaurant managers can substantially improve their servers' incomes by encouraging them to take those actions, and they can call La Classe to convince servers that doing so will be to their benefit.



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