Waiters and waitresses, rejoice. Cornell University Prof. Michael Lynn, who combs foodservice academic journals in search of scientifically proven techniques that increase server tips, has uncovered six new ones. Keeping in mind that these suggestions are more appropriate in low- to mid-priced casual dining situations than elsewhere — and in fact might be downright inappropriate for fine dining — here's his list.
Use makeup (for waitresses)
Yes, this might seem a little (or a lot) sexist, but experiments demonstrated that more males tipped, and tipped a higher percentage, when their female servers wore makeup.
Stand physically close to the customer
Think this technique would make some customers uneasy? Perhaps, but researchers found guests tip 22 percent more when servers come in close.
Compliment the customer's food choice
Do customers care what their server thinks of their food choice? Apparently so, because verbalizing this affirmation produced a boost in tip percentage from 16.4 percent to 18.9 percent in one controlled study, and raised it from 18.8 percent to 20.3 percent in another.
Write a patriotic message on the check
Before you judge this one, consider the results of one experiment. The tip percentage of servers inscribing “United We Stand” on their checks was 19.9 percent, “God Bless America” yielded 17.9 percent and “Have A Nice Day” came in at 15.9 percent. The “no message” percentage: 15.5. If your restaurant is in a “Red” state, this one might be worth a shot.
Provide tipping guidelines
A study found that customers didn't respond well if servers hand-wrote one or more suggested tip amounts on the check. But when the restaurant's POS system printed a suggested amount on the check, tips increased 2.4 percent.
Play songs with pro-social lyrics
An experiment at a restaurant in France that tested this theory found that 35 percent of customers left a tip when this type of tune was played, but only 24 percent did so when different music was played. Tip amounts rose 13 percent.
Will this last one, or any of them, work as advertised? Who knows, but why not talk about trying a couple at your next waitstaff meeting?