If you’re one of the many people in the United States who rely on tips for income, you know a bigger tip is always better.

 

Here are five, scientifically proven ways to get higher tips. They’re backed by insights we’ve gathered from the 2,000+ restaurant we work with, too. Turns out there are little things you can do from when a customer comes in, to the moments right up to adding the tip to the bill that can increase your tips.

 

Start with a Smile

Studies have shown that a large, open-mouth smile, instead of a smaller, closed-mouth smile, can increase tips by up to 140%. Smiling goes a long way, especially if it’s the first step you’re taking to personalizing your service. Making your customers feel welcome is one of the ways to make sure that not only their experience is great, but their tip is, too.

 

Add a Personal Touch

The first thing you can do to personalize your service? Introduce yourself by name. At a Charlie Brown’s restaurant in Southern California, waitresses’ tips jumped from $3.49 to $5.44 when they introduced themselves by name.

If your restaurant allows it, find some way to personalize your outfit. The most common example is wearing a flower in your hair, but other accessorization works, too.

Squatting, or even just being closer to customers when you take their order, can also raise your tips. Doing this allows you to make eye contact, and create more of a connection with your customers. To further this connection, you can also compliment people on their order, by saying something like, “that’s a great choice!” or “that’s one of my favorites.”


Include Tip Suggestions on The Bill

Not everyone can do the quick math for a good tip, and not everyone is aware what general guidelines for tipping are. If your restaurant prints tip suggestions on the bill, it primes the customer to think about what a good tip is, and leads to them leaving a better tip than if suggestions weren’t printed.

 

Include a Drawing or Short Note on the Bill

Writing a short “thank you!” on the bill can go a long way. Adding a small personal note, or even a small comment about upcoming nice weather, increases the connection with your customers and encourages them to tip more.

A smiley face drawing, or something like a lobster if you work at a seafood restaurant, accomplishes the same thing. Keeping your service personalized through the end of the meal makes customers feel welcome, and like they have a real connection with you.

 

Give Nifts to Customers

Antonio, a waiter at Masa Latin Kitchen and Tequila Bar, gives Nifts to his customers to increase tip amounts. A Nift is a gift to another local business–by explaining this to customers he gives them to, he makes them feel special, and is giving them the opportunity to have a great experience somewhere else, too.

Nift brings great customers into all types of small businesses, not just restaurants. Businesses that use Nift get more, better customers, and as a result, see higher tips.


Making sure a customer’s entire visit feels personal and welcome is the best way to improve tips, and some of them probably come naturally if you’ve been in the service industry for a while. Plus, you can always try different suggestions and see if you can find a big difference.