Plenty of people get into bartending for the tips. Hey, who can blame them? If you get the right gig, it can be a fun and relatively easy way to earn the kind of money that can put you through college or buy a car with a little saving. However, it takes more than just landing any old bartending gig and serving up generic rum and coke drinks to rake in the big bucks.
If you’re looking to bartending to do more than just pay your bills, here are five things you can to do increase your chances of walking home with hundreds of dollars in tips in your pocket at the end of the night.
Dress to Impress
Customers frequent certain bars based on the experience they want to have and that includes the way bartenders are dressed. It might sound antiquated and besides the point, but it really does have an impact. If people are heading somewhere fancy for complex cocktails, picking up some stylish threads and making sure you look completely put together will be key to you fitting into the vibe. If you work at a dive bar, grunge it up a bit. As Gold Star Bartending puts it, “dress in a manner that suits your bar”.
Focus on Friendliness
People tip people they like more, it’s just how it is. Be as friendly as you can and, of course, always be polite. Ask new customers for their names and remember them the next time that they come it—people love to feel important and like they stand out among the crowd. Speaking of the crowd, it’s important to read your guests. Some stop by bars looking for a conversation while others belly up with a book and want to be left alone. Play to the experience they want and your tips are sure to go up.
Remember Drink Details
This is especially important when it comes to regulars, but to the extent that you can remember people’s drink preferences, always make it known. If someone comes in who always likes a lemon instead of a lime with their vodka soda, say something like “With a lemon instead of a lime, right?” and they’ll surely be pleased (and tip you accordingly) for both remembering and saving them the hassle of having to request it every time. Have a bad memory? Modern bar POS systems have features where you can add these types of notes for your VIP customers.
Strategically Offer Samples
As on bartender tells Buzztime, “I give tastes of new or superior products to customers I believe may be interested in them.” While you certainly have to know your customers in order to make recommendations, this is a great way to both upsell product and make your customers feel like insiders who are getting something that not everyone else in the bar does. Giving out samples or drinks on the house also establishes a feeling of reciprocity, meaning that when you give your guests something, they feel like they have to give something back—and that something is usually a larger tip to make up for the free drink.
If Nothing Else, Get Orders Right and Be Prompt
Even if you’re not at the place where you feel like you can focus on increasing your tips, there’s one sure fire way to make sure that you’re not inadvertently decreasing your tips: Get order right the first time and make them quickly. We’ve all been there, standing at a bar for what feels like forever waiting for our order to be taken, just to get an incorrect (or incorrectly made) drink once it arrives. While everyone in the industry would probably feel too guilty to stiff someone, plenty of people would feel just fine doing so—don’t give them the opportunity.