How To Get More Tips: 20 Approaches That Work

Updated September 30, 2022

If you work in the service industry, tips can make up a majority of your income. There are a few common techniques you can employ to improve your service—and your customers' experiences—to increase your tip earning potential. In this article, we list the professions that commonly earn tips and list proven strategies you can use to increase your income.

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What are tips?

Tips, also called gratuity, are a sum of money given to a service worker by a customer or client that's additional to the cost of their purchase. Typically, customers leave between 15% and 25% gratuity in addition to the cost of their bill, depending on the quality of service or their experience. For some situations with no bill attached, customers decide the value of the service and tip accordingly.

Though beneficial for service employees, tips are optional payments and the choice of whether to leave one or how much to pay is at the discretion of the customer. Company rules for some service professionals, such as flight attendants, mail carriers or some food service employees, may prohibit them from accepting tips.

Related: How To calculate a Tip: Steps and Tips

Why is it important to know how to get better tips at work?

It's important to understand how to get better tips because tips help supplement your income when you work in the service industry. Though the current minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour, the actual minimum for tipped employees, according to the Department of Labor, is $2.13 per hour. This means many tipped employees may rely on gratuity to make a living wage or pay their bills.

It's possible that tipped employees can earn more money from gratuity than they do in an hourly wage, so learning about ways to get better tips can also help you increase your income potential.

Related: How To Report Tip Income

What professions accept tips?

There are a variety of professions that accept tips for their services. Some include:

  • Barbers or hairdressers

  • Bartenders

  • Cab, taxi, limo, delivery and rideshare drivers

  • Casino dealers

  • Cleaning staff

  • Disc jockeys

  • Dog walkers and groomers

  • Doormen

  • Golf caddies

  • Landscapers

  • Makeup artists

  • Massage therapists

  • Nail technicians

  • Nannies or babysitters

  • Room service attendants

  • Servers

  • Ship captains

  • Tattoo artists

  • Tour guides

  • Ushers

Related: Average Makeup Artist Salary by State

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20 ways to get better tips

Use these methods to help you get better tips at your service job:

1. Get a bigger bill

Increasing your total sales may increase your tips. For example, as a restaurant server, you may encourage a table to order an appetizer and dessert or get refills on their drinks to raise the total cost of the meal. Because customers often base tips off a percentage of their total payment, a higher bill leads to higher tips. If a customer plans to tip 20% on their bill, you only earn $8 on a $40 check, but you'd earn $16 on an $80 check.

2. Leverage busy hours

Depending on your industry, sometimes you can earn more tips by serving or helping more customers in a short amount of time. This can be especially true during busy hours such as lunch rushes or peak shopping and travel times. This may also be true for service professions where customers choose how much money to put into a tip rather than calculating it off the percentage of a bill. Focus on helping customers quickly but satisfactorily to try this strategy.

3. Personalize your appearance

Though many employees in tip-friendly jobs wear uniforms, you can accessorize or find creative ways to share information about your personality with your outer appearance. Consider wearing buttons, jewelry or other items that could serve as conversation starters with customers. This may help you find common interests that lead to a personal connection and a more friendly or relaxed atmosphere. Feeling comfortable may encourage clients to give better tips.

4. Provide entertainment

Though not applicable for every tip-friendly position, providing a source of entertainment to clients and customers may be a way to increase your tips. In places like restaurants or waiting rooms, you may show customers where they can find things like magazines or electronic games. You may also offer to bring children coloring pages or activities to keep them occupied while adults wait for their service. Providing entertainment may make a more hospitable experience for customers and feel you're giving them personalized attention, which can lead to more tips.

5. Personalize the receipt

Leaving a tip is often one of the last steps in a customer's service experience. They often wait to complete this step until after they've received their item, change and final receipt. Writing a friendly note or including a small drawing on the last receipt may encourage people to leave a tip. Even writing something as simple as "thank you" or including a smiley face may help increase the rapport you've built with the customer over the service and increase your chance for better tips.

6. Call your customers by name

Whether you know your customer or you just see their name on their driver's license or credit card, thanking someone for their business by name could increase your tips. Stay professional and use courtesy titles like Mr. or Ms. along with the customer's last name. Hearing this polite exchange right before deciding to leave a tip could increase your payout.

7. Offer incentives

Including a mint, piece of candy or other small incentives with the final bill could increase your chances of getting better tips. Similar to writing thank you notes on the receipts, this gesture offers a personalized touch to your interaction. This is another way to make a good last impression on your customers to increase your chances of a better tip.

8. Introduce yourself

Introducing yourself to customers by name could increase your tips. This gesture starts a friendly rapport for the duration of the time you're working with or serving a customer. Similar to personalizing your appearance, letting your customers get to know you by name may make you feel more familiar to them, which could lead to higher gratuity.

9. Get on the customer's level

Being as close to eye level with customers as possible when interacting could increase your chances of getting better tips. In settings such as restaurants and hair salons, customers sit for their services. Crouching, kneeling or otherwise putting yourself on the same level, rather than standing above the customer, may create a more relaxed environment.

10. Smile often

Being friendly can help increase the payout of your tips. If you have an upbeat attitude about your job, this could influence the attitudes of your customers and clients. If you treat them with respect, they may be likely to do the same back to you. Smiling is one way to convey these emotions, along with your tone of voice and body language.

11. Practice good hygiene

When working with customers, presenting a clean and polished appearance may help you earn more tips. Keep your hair washed, combed and styled nicely. Consider trimming your facial hair, wearing makeup or painting your nails before a shift. You may also consider making sure you've washed your outfit or uniform so that it's stain and wrinkle-free. A professional appearance may make you more confident, which can better your performance and increase your tips.

12. Give compliments

Complimenting customers may help you earn more in tip money. You can choose to compliment the customer themself, such as commenting on their clothing. You can also choose to compliment them on an action related to your service, such as the item they purchased. This may make the customer feel more confident and put them in a better mood, which may make them feel more generous.

13. Repeat the order

When taking an order from a customer, repeating back what they ask for can increase your tips. For example, if you're in food service, you can read back a customer's order or if you're in transportation, you may repeat the expected route or ultimate destination. Doing this can help confirm you're listening to the customer and that you've heard what they said. This can make you seem more competent and make the customers more confident in your abilities and more likely to leave good tips.

14. Use a tip tray

If you work in a profession where you give a final bill or receipt to a customer, put that document in a tip tray to deliver it to the table. A tip tray is a plastic or leather book or holder with a space for the receipt, payment and sometimes a pen. Putting the last bill in a device like this may help remind customers to leave a tip.

15. Take better shifts

Depending on the industry and location, certain shifts may be busier than others. Taking shifts at certain hours of the day or on certain days of the week may yield more money in tips. Pay attention to the flow of traffic through your business and what your coworkers make in tips during those shifts to determine which are the most profitable. While you may not always have your choice of shifts, knowing this information can help when switching shifts with someone else or to if you're able to take on extra hours.

16. Change positions

Within one organization there may be many tip-friendly positions available. For example, at many restaurants, there are servers, hosts and bartenders, all positions which may earn tips. Some of these roles, even within the same company, may earn more in tips than others. If possible, ask, apply or train to switch to another job within your company with a better tip rate.

Related: Front of House vs. Back of House

17. Display a tip jar

In some establishments, it's helpful to display a tip jar to remind customers to leave extra money. This can work well in places like hair salons, window- or counter-ordering eateries or in vehicles. Making this option available can remind people about tipping and encourage them to put money inside.

18. Personalize your tip jar

Beyond using a tip jar, you can personalize it to suit your individual needs. Putting your name on the jar can let customers know exactly who is getting their money. If you're saving your tips for something specific, such as to go to college, get a new car or go on a trip you can put the reasoning on the jar. If people are interested in your cause, they may leave you more money.

19. Provide excellent service

Providing excellent services is one of the most common ways to earn better tips. The definition of exemplary service can vary from customer to customer, but generally, being polite, offering help and being prompt and professional are hallmarks of good service. Learning how to read your customers' emotions by their words and body language may allow you to provide even better service for them.

20. Ask for feedback

Ask your managers or supervisors for feedback about your performance and get suggestions for how to improve in your role. They may notice behaviors or habits you can adjust to better connect with customers. Paying attention to these notes and setting goals for yourself could improve your overall performance on the job and lead to more tips.

Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.

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