In addition to reading a guest’s body language, servers can take certain
approaches with their own body language to improve their chances of a
larger tip, Smith says.
1 Pay attention to appearances. Servers’ hands should be neat and clean, and so should their clothing. “Dress for your body type,”
Smith says. “Pull your hair back, and whatever you use for a staff uniform,
make sure it looks like it’s been laundered and pressed recently. People
generalize, from what they see to what they don’t see; if I see people in
the front of the house looking neat and clean, I’ll assume that the back
of the house is also neat and clean.”
2 Don’t be too friendly. “You do not need to be a guest’s new best friend,” Smith advises. “In fact, studies have shown that when servers are a little bit more reserved, they actually get a better tip. That doesn’t
mean being rude, but establish boundaries. Have a smile in your eyes
and a little bit of a smile on your lips. Make eye contact with everyone
at the table as you approach.”
3 Know how to make first contact. “Stand up straight, with an open body posture, and briefly introduce yourself by saying something such as, ‘Hi, my name is Jodi, and I’ll be your server this evening,’”
Smith says. She encourages servers to inquire about any allergies, and
each restaurant should come up with a table greeting that can be used
consistently by all servers.
4 Don’t be in a hurry. Smith recommends waiting three to four minutes after the food is delivered to the table before checking back
in with guests. “If I ask guests if everything is OK immediately after the
food is set down, they haven’t had a chance to taste it yet,” Smith says.
“After three to four minutes, they’ll usually know if they need something
else.” After that, Smith recommends occasionally walking by the table,
making eye contact with the host of the table to make sure everything is
all right and no one is trying to get your attention.
5 Bring the check discreetly. The delivery of the bill will often lead to arguments over who will pay it, so Smith suggests being discreet
in your delivery. “Carefully and discreetly slide the bill next to the person
that you have identified as the host of the table,” she says. “If it’s the end
of the night and you’re not trying to turn the table, you can say, ‘Please
feel free to linger.’ If, however, it’s a busy night, you can say, ‘Thank you
so much for coming, and we hope to see you again soon.’”
Liz Barrett is PMQ’s editor at large and author of Pizza: A Slice of American History.