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How to increase your tips as a bartender

Tips. Tips are the lifeblood that fuels the dreams of bartenders across the globe. In most cases, bartenders don’t make a great salary. Often, they get paid BELOW the minimum wage. How is this possible? Because of tips, of course. Great bartenders, (and even crappy bartenders) can make a great living on the tips their patrons leave them on a nightly basis.

girl-bartenderSo how much can you make in bartending tips when starting out? There’s not really a definite answer to this. A good estimate is up to 200 dollars a night in a smaller establishment, and in a larger bar you may be looking at around 600 a night. Of course, the volume of business a bar does is an important determining factor in the amount of tips you’ll make…A small bar in the country may not yield as many tips as a bar in bustling downtown atmosphere. The yearly salary of a bartender could range anywhere from 20K-80K a year, all dependent on location, experience and demographics.

Now, how can you increase your bartending tips? Let’s take a look at a few proven techniques that help to improve your guests’ experience and therefore the tips they leave to you, their bartender…

Say hello! Your customers are entering your bar, and you’re their ‘host’. Make sure to make them feel welcome, and to let them know their needs will be attended to in a good fashion. If your bar is full & busy, be sure to let the arriving customers know that you’ve recognized their arrival and that you’ll be attending to them in a few minutes once you’ve got a chance. No customer wants to enter an establishment & be ignored. Most people are sympathetic to the fact that you may be busy, but they still deserve to be acknowledged as a paying customer. Something simple like placing a coaster or bar napkin in front of them and stating ‘Howdy, welcome to (bar’s name). We’ll be with you in a few moments” can go a LONG way when it comes to guest experience. And be sure to honor your end of that bargain…don’t forget about them! Make sure to get back there and take their order in timely manner. By greeting your customers and acknowledging them, the customers are more likely to stay & spend money at your bar. If time permits, get to know your customers by engaging them in conversation. Do your best to remember their names for the next time they stop in.

People are coming to your bar for a good time, or as the song says “to forget about life for a while”. These customers don’t deserve a grumpy, angry bartender. In the service industry, you must learn how to put aside your personal issues and bad days, and still offer up good service and a smile to those you are taking care of. By displaying a great attitude, you’ll get better tips than if you display a poor attitude. It’s that simple. Don’t be a grumpy a jerk!

The big game is on TV. …there’s 10 minutes left, and you’re texting with your buddies about that last play. Meanwhile, there’s a bar full of customers that are waiting for you to turn around and take their drink order. Remember, you’re at work! You should be fooling around on your own dime, not the bar’s. While bartending can be lots of fun, you still need to take care of the people that are keeping your bar in business. By offering quick & attentive service, your tips will thank you. And speaking of ‘thank you’….

When a customer leaves a tip, or even when they place their order, say ‘Thank You’. Even if the tip isn’t great, by showing appreciation you will leave a goo impression on the customer. That customer holds more power than you think. They will tell others of the experience they had at your bar, and if it was a good one, you’ll wind up with more customers over time. If your bar (specifically the service you give) leaves a negative impression on them, you will lose them and others as paying customers. By being polite and using words like ‘thank you’ when a customer leaves a tip, you increase the odds that the customer will return and leave you another tip, and hopefully they’ll tell others about your great service.

Wash your hair. Keep your fingernails clean. Don’t wear dirty clothes. Make sure you don’t smell, or wear overpowering scents. Brush your teeth. Get it? Nobody wants to receive service from someone that is unkempt. Be attractive, and show off your good assets if necessary. By dressing & grooming yourself appropriately, you’ll see better tips than if you don’t.

People are expecting quick service. Do your best to get them their drinks without making them wait exceedingly long times. It’s hard when you have many customers & even servers that need drinks for their tables, but as a bartender this is a challenge you will often face.

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