I am from the UK and have worked with waiters from around the world, teaching them how to take some of the latest psychology, neuroscience and group dynamics and modify their service in an unconventional way to help the customers to enjoy their experience more.

The techniques we teach help servers to drastically improve their tips, which as a measure of customer enjoyment means that customer satisfaction is high.

I have just started blogging about this and hope to release some information products for servers around the world.

This AMA is both for me to see how many servers are out there with questions about making getter tips, and to answer any questions you may have about what we teach, what we think about customer service in general and what we believe will happen as the restaurant industry continues to grow.


www.thedynamicwaiter.com/blog https://twitter.com/dynamicwaiter https://www.facebook.com/thedynamicwaiter

Ask away!


Thank you everyone for the great questions, the positive responses and the more challenging ones. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and I'm sorry if I didn't get around to your question. I tried to ensure that I didn't answer the same types question too many times and not just focus on the good ones - such as by responding to requests for justification of my qualifications & the relevance of neuroscience to waiter tips.

Over the next few days I will try and answer some more of the questions at the bottom of the list, but I won't be answering questions left after the 16th July as the cut off.

Thanks again for a great first AMA experience!

Comments: 886 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

C0FFEEBLACK994 karma

Have you released a book? If not, would you consider the title "Just the Tip"?

thedynamicwaiter1249 karma

I haven't released a book yet, but I love the name! Maybe for the x-rated version!

Funguss229 karma

I took some clients out to dinner last week, and I noticed a spoon in the shirt pocket of our waiter as he handed us the menus. It seemed a little odd, but I dismissed it as a random thing... until our busboy came with water and tableware. He too, sported a spoon in his breast pocket. I looked around the room, and all the waiters and busboys had spoons in their pockets.

When our waiter returned to take our order, I just had to ask, "Why the spoons?"

"Well," he explained, "our parent company recently hIred some Andersen Consulting efficiency experts to review all our procedures, and after months of statistical analyses, they concluded that our patrons drop spoons on the floor 73% more often than any other utensil at a frequency of three spoons per hour per workstation. By preparing our workers for this contingency in advance, we can cut our trips to the kitchen down and save time - nearly 0.5 extra man-hours per shift."

Just as he concluded, a "ch-ching" came from the table behind him, and he quickly replaced the fallen spoon with the one from his pocket. "I'll grab another spoon the next time I'm in the kitchen instead of making a specIal trip," he proudly explained.

I was impressed. "Thanks, I had to ask."

"No problem," he answered. Then he continued to take our orders. As the members of our dinner party took theIr turns, my eyes darted back and forth from each person ordering and my menu. That's when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a thin black thread protruding from our waiter's fly. Again, I dismissed it; yet I had to scan the room and, sure enough, there were other waiters and busboys with strings hanging out of their trousers.

My curiosity overrode discretion at this point, so before he could leave I had to ask. "Excuse me, but, uh... why, or what, about that string?"

"Oh, yeah," he began, in a quieter tone, "not many people are that observant. That same efficiency group found we could save time in the Men's Room, too."

"How's that?" I asked.

"You see, by tying a string to the end of our, uh, ourselves, we can pull it out at the urinals literally hands-free and thereby eliminate the need to wash our hands," cutting time spent in the washroom by over 93%!"

"Hey, wait a minute. If the string helps you pull it out, how do you get it back in?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the other, guys, but I use the spoon."

Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser, Boonville, California

thedynamicwaiter144 karma


Rhodesians194 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. Just a few questions.....

1) How should a server react when the kitchen gets behind or messes up an order?

2) What is the single most important thing a server can do to increase tips?

3) When asked by a customer what the server recommends, how should this be handled. Recommend a high dollar item to get a bigger tip, or be honest and hope that the honestly leads to a better tip?


thedynamicwaiter1385 karma

Hey, thanks for your question

1) Two main things I'd say. First, the more the server can regulate their own emotions the better. I teach a technique called reappraisal where you can quickly change your mood and prevent your automatic response of anger or frustration. As an example of this technique, think about it in this way: "This delay/mess up/chaos gives me a chance to test myself and get better at handling situations like this. If I can still keep my customers happy through the delay and have them still like me and the restaurant, then I win". That will help to eliminate the anger and put you in the best position to deal effectively with the problem. Second, in dealing with the customers I would suggest being as honest as possible, saying "I'm really sorry but there's been a mix up in the kitchen and there's a delay". Give them a 'time-stamp' and tell them how long it will be. On a logistical level, I'm sure the manager will have their own policy about what you do and when with complaints. From a psychological perspective though, lower yourself to their level (physically or emotionally) and then quickly lead them into a better state; could be by offering a free drink, smiling, or simply increasing the pitch of your voice towards the end. Personally, I will generally act as if I am the semi-hero trying to fix the mistakes made in the kitchen, letting the customers know that I'm equally disappointed by the mistake and letting them share in the 'fixing it' process.

2) Mirroring. Simply the best way to quickly create strong connections with customers, and therefore tips on average. Try mirroring their mood/body language/voice & wording etc. We're the first trainers to publicly say that servers should not 'smile at everyone all the time'...instead they should 'smile at customers who should be smiled at and not at those who shouldn't, until you have brought them into a place where they should be smiled at."

3) I prefer honestly. Yes you may miss out on the few dollars separating the price between your favourite and the most expensive dishes, but you can talk honestly and with no guilt about the dishes you really like. This then positions you as a server who speaks honestly and enthusiastically about dishes that are good, such that you can make up (and exceed) the price difference when it comes to upselling side dishes and desserts (and of course the higher tips simply for being more likeable)

Hope that answered your questions. Thanks!

hellohoney216 karma

Thank you! Finally someone who understands that its best to be real with a customer rather than always faking a smile! I have been pulled aside many times by managers who don't understand this. I love this term, mirroring. I'm gunna use that, thanks!

thedynamicwaiter173 karma

Glad you liked it :)

Sacriliciousmmmm41 karma

I learned early in my hairstyling career to not treat people the way you wanted to be treated but rather to treat people the way they want to be treated. It's just another way to tailor the experience to them and make them feel important and wanted. The more you can do this with someone the more they want to give you their billions. Glad the theory is being put to good use elsewhere.

thedynamicwaiter113 karma

I've had hairdressers tell me how much they would love this type of stuff. Do you know of anyone teaching this in that space?

Mr_Branches29 karma

in regards to the backup in the kitchen, it always seems like a bad idea to put the blame solely on the kitchen and SHARE in disappointment with the customers. You work for a company or business as a team. Never throw anyone else under the bus unless you want the same type of treatment. You want your business and workers uniform throughout sharing in the responsibilities

fat_at_heart53 karma

While I understand the sentiment, the kitchen staff will not be paid less because the guest is unhappy with them, but the wait staff will. I am all for blaming the kitchen if it gives the server an opportunity to turn around a potentially negative guest experience and make them a little money.

internet_observer11 karma

The guests also almost never actually interact with the kitchen staff. If the guests are mad at the kitchen it doesn't really matter. In a shared tips scenario the kitchen even gets paid more if the blame results in a higher tip.

thedynamicwaiter118 karma

I'm with you here, the goal is to make the customer have the best experience possible. If they don't have any interaction with the kitchen then you are the one they are relying on for that experience, so you can't afford to take the blame unless it is genuinely your fault.

I should point out though, as you 'throw them under the bus' you should never be doing it by saying things like : "that idiot in the kitchen/stupid staff/etc."

There is value in showing integrity by identifying the cause of the problem, being clearly worried by it, but not victimising an individual or group to do so.

something like: "The kitchen is slammed and for some reason your ticket didn't get seen by the chef's, but I've checked on it and put a rush on the order so it shouldn't be longer than 5 more minutes".

That way you remain the good guy but without implicating and/or chastising a bad guy.

PiqueYo3 karma

I work in a customer service role that regularly deals with upset customers, and what you are saying is logical but in practice if you are a good person, so you don't insult your company but you truly empathise with and understand the customer they will appreciate and remember this more.

This is where tact comes in to play big time, so you acknowledging the mistake is a bad experience is important as long as you don't make the people who made the mistake seem like bad people, as the customer is more likely to trust and respect you, because you have shown yourself to be a smart person in their eyes by understanding where they come from. You can't just say 'I understand' because not everyone but most people will know this is bullshit if you don't prove it.

EDIT: It's not about throwing people under the bus it's about throwing peoples mistakes under the bus, a lot of managers don't realise how effective this is.

thedynamicwaiter12 karma

Completely agree, see my post above about this.

I don't think I made that clear in my original response but I am not an advocate of throwing others under the bus.

You throw the mistake under the bus, as you say, and ensure that there are no scapegoats. But you can still be the hero to the mistake without throwing others under the bus

addctd2badideas-5 karma

As an example of this technique, think about it in this way: "This delay/mess up/chaos gives me a chance to test myself and get better at handling situations like this."

This sounds like typical corporate nonsense. Not everyone waiting tables wants to test themselves. They simply want to get through the day, do a good (or adequate) job and go home.

I will generally act as if I am the semi-hero trying to fix the mistakes made in the kitchen

Most customers tend to see through this as an act. Which it is.

Try mirroring their mood/body language/voice & wording etc.

Credit where it's due. This is good advice.

thedynamicwaiter125 karma

I agree with other commenters that if a server doesn't care about their job then they probably won't want to learn anything from me.

I disagree that it's typical corporate nonesense. It comes from David Rock's field of NeuroLeadership, a course based on how to take findings about our neurology in the last 10 years to make better decisions and enjoy our work more, what you are refering to as corporate nonesense was mostly done in the 70's and 80's before they knew what our brains were actually doing. The full technique involves re-appraising the impact of the situation so that it is less emotionally charged. Whether its reframing it into a test for yourself, or any other frame. The point is that you change your map from "the kitchen has ruined my day" to "I can deal with this" so that the huge spike in cortisol is minimised and your brain can continue to think rationally.

I am not saying that every server should think like that...only the ones who keep getting angry at things and want a better handle on their emotional world. The outcome isn't to please some corporate boss, its to live a life with less anger and annoyance.

But I understand the associations with the corporate world, to me its a shame that it's tainted some interested psychology.

Anyway, thanks for your comment and all the best.

raziphel25 karma

on #3:

if they want you to be more direct, recommend three, with emphasis on the best the kitchen offers. "the burger are really good, and I really love the steak, but the lobster is my special-occasion treat. is this a special occasion?" how they respond to a leading three-option question will inform you on what is the best choice. usually, people will take the middle option of a 'good, better, best' sales presentation.

if they do say 'special occasion', talk to the manager about comping a dessert or some wine.

if you know that one of the chefs does something particularly well, suggest it while playing off of his expertise. "one of our chefs, Steve, makes a wonderful medium rare filet mignon. You should try that." if you do this, remember to tell that particular chef that he was requested so he'll be on the top of his game (plus they appreciate feedback). if it comes out shitty, you'll both look like fools.

thedynamicwaiter113 karma

If you want to make that even more powerful use can use repetition to make it more likely that they order the one you're trying to upwell:

e.g. Server: "Desserts? Well there's the cheesecake, chocolate cake & ice cream, the cheesecake's the best/most popular/most delicious/etc"

Saying the name of the dish twice has huge effect on which they choose if they are undecided.

Rockanrolo13169 karma

What about flair? How many pieces should I have? Is 15 too little?

thedynamicwaiter156 karma

Definitely more than 50 is a must.

fragglefraggle112 karma

Does this include distracting the customer by talking to them while they're writing/calculating the tip? I've noticed this happening more and more recently

thedynamicwaiter1148 karma

I'm not a fan of that. If the customer is going to tip me well I want them to be fully aware of it. A tip that is given by a distracted person will only introduce the chance that they will leave and later regret the size of the tip - less likely to then come back, less likely to tip well/at all next time etc.

Instead, I want customers fully aware that they are tipping me the amount they are, and fully glad of the decision to leave that tip! That's the hard part, but its easy once you know how.

Thanks for the question

Sle08109 karma

I am a server in a high end restaurant and choose to do this over using my degree in music education. I give good service to my guests and it's proven by the tips I receive (I average 18% on bad days but normally have outliers of 25%ers). I consider my work fun and enjoyable, however, I am struggling to with the actions of our manager/owner who uses the restaurant as a hangout and means to entertain his friends and smooz with rich clients. He micromanages us daily and gets in our way, messes up our orders when he expos and condescends us which has been tearing away at our morale. Do you have any suggestions on dealing with this kind of boss?

He does acknowledge that he needs to hire a manager but refuses to and expects some of the servers to work as managers at the last minute when he wants to do something that night. This puts those servers in horrible moods because they won't make the money they need to and servers who would normally act genially and enthusiastically now feel abused by the situation.

thedynamicwaiter188 karma

This is tough, no matter how strong we are sometimes we can just get overloaded with nonsense and lose our flair.

The first thing I would do is think about working somewhere else. As he is the owner there's no one higher to file any grievances with. I would find it difficult working for someone like that.

If that's not an option, then you have to decide whether you're going to change the way you interact with him or change the way you deal with the situation. This could be by deciding that you will speak up more when you think he is being unreasonable, preparing some one-liner sentences that will help to diffuse a threat, and/or deciding that you will struggle on and change your own emotional state regardless of what he throws at you.

The feelings of misery partly come from a lack of control over the situation. So you can either take control and make some decisions, or accept your fate. Sorry to be dramatic, but it sounds like its causing some real pain, and it would be worth making yourself a plan!

Hope that helps and thanks for the question.

cookiecutter69 karma

Any tips on suggestive selling? I'm looking for ways to up my bar sales without sounding pushy.

thedynamicwaiter1133 karma

A simply one would be to nod while upselling. People instinctively will want to mirror you, so they will start to nod themselves, then their brain will think they must agree with you, then they are more likely to order it.

Can work quite well in a bar, particularly as the nodding can be done in beat to the music :)

Remember though, only works if the customer genuinely wants a drink and the drink you are upselling is something they might consider/like. Its good that you don't like pushy-ness, me neither.

Thanks for the question

snugy_wumpkins39 karma

I realized this happened to me the other week. Wow! That is incredible. I was at a restaurant/bar that I had never been to before, they had a wide selection, and asked for a couple of recommendations, and he started to nod when selling one drink, but not the others.

Sagadon11 karma

I've noticed not all of them are doing it on purpose, but mimicing behaviours from good waiters without understanding the timing.

One guy nodded for the small brownie dish versus the overpriced cheese cake. I still got the cheese cake.

thedynamicwaiter119 karma

Brilliant! Or maybe he was nodding just because he liked that one more and didn't even realise the nod.

sfzoo42028 karma

I like the mirroring aspect. i've alway done it but never noticed it.

I find that another good tactic is to ask a simple question that pertains to their preferences. This gives them the notion that you're actually considering what they would enjoy rather than you pushing some product in their face.

=What would you recommend for dinner? can be followed with: -Well, are you looking for something hearty? little lighter? -Are you in the mood for steak(Fish)? -Will you be having wine? (I really like this one, it sets up another upsell) -Do you have a strong appetite? or are you a light eater? -Are you spice sensative?

These types of questions do 2 things. It gives you more information to make an honest recommendation. And it gives you credibility.

Once you establish trust/credibility it becomes easier to suggest a higher priced dish, with a nice wine to pair ;)

Another thing that I try to do is to find something that I don't like, or is an unpopular seller, and tell the guest exactly that. =What would you recommend?

Can be followed by: -ah, the calamari isn't as fresh as i'd like it. otherwise, everything is quite tasty. -eh, the guy on the grill today seems to be torching all the meat...but the fish looks amazing! -I'm not a fan of farmed fish, which our salmon is. But our Seabass is always line caught and is outstanding!

Trust. Upsell. That's my motto. (i just made it up)

thedynamicwaiter113 karma

Really good motto. In a way the mirroring serves to create emotional trust, whilst the questions create more rational trust.

Both are good to build up and those types of questions are really good for developing rapport, getting more words said in the conversation (making it more memorable) and getting to the root of their tastes and helping them enjoy their time more. Bravo for the just-made-up motto :)

kanyesbathroommirror68 karma

What is the best way to handle a situation in which a customer thinks you're attractive/hits on you/asks you out/etc. without sabotaging yourself?

thedynamicwaiter183 karma

Depends on how open they are with it, and what you are worried about sabotaging (their customer service or your chances with them ;) )

If they outright tell you, I would advise against saying more than "Thank You", as it can quickly change their mind if you lap it up too much. It also helps you refocus on the service.

Its unfortunate, but research has shown that servers get more tips if they rate higher on the attractiveness scale. There's some great ways to get around that, but if they already think you are attractive then they will likely tip you more.

If you aren't up for it (or aren't allowed due to the policy of your restaurant) then throwing in the 'I have a girlfriend/boyfriend' is a time-tested bit. Hard to argue and helps you refocus on the actual service.

Hope that helps and thanks for the question

thedynamicwaiter168 karma

Just a note to any who have seen this twice - the first post was deleted by moderators because I forgot to link to social media accounts as proof...my bad!

ZedKilla29 karma

Do you only specialise in waiters/waitresses? If not, what else interests you in relation to psychology?

thedynamicwaiter141 karma

Currently yes. But I plan to move into other job-types as I learn more and grow the brand.

I think that by specialising I am able to better serve my clients as I have direct experience of their work and can target the (often tedious) psychology to their specific role. But I would like to expand that specific approach into other industries too.

angelust25 karma

I would be so interested to see this information applied to nursing. Patient satisfaction is really critical; we always want those satisfaction numbers high

thedynamicwaiter114 karma

Would be great to see someone do that. If it hasn't happened by the time we get established then I'd love to tackle that challenge too!

gellman55 karma

I have always thought that the waiters should write down my order to showcase their desire to get it correct. Do you think this is a commonly felt understanding, or do you see better responses to the situation if they memorize it to showcase their comprehension and skills in that fashion?

thedynamicwaiter169 karma

I've heard mixed feelings about this.

I generally try to recognise that human brains are fallible and even the best memories can fail, no matter how many mnemonics you use or other memory techniques.

As the most important thing is that the customer has an enjoyable experience, I will tend to write down anyway as the negative effect of a mistake is greater than the negative effect of them judging you for needing to write it down.

Whilst some servers (and managers) think its better to showcase their memory skills, in my experience I've never had a customer seem disappointed that I didn't, and have not seen better responses when I've memorised it.

Thanks for the question

muddymudd42 karma

As a waiter, I find myself hitting a "panic mode" when all of the sudden I have 5 tables that just sat down AND an 8 top or so. I work at a corporate crap-hole and it stresses me out when this burden is put on me.

So how do I spend equal time with each table and make sure I give great service? Because most customers do not know what a server is going through, and this stressful position I find myself in really affects my tips.

thedynamicwaiter133 karma

Some really good ideas from the other commentors about which order to do things and how to manage the situation.

From my perspective, its how you deal with the stress of the situation that is most important.

Have a look at the lecture at Google Authors that David Rock gave. It kinda summarises the technique called Re-appraisal, that we teach servers to help them deal with this kinda stress.

Choose what to focus on, commit to it and then go do it! The more you feel doubt about your ability to pull it off and get it all done the less likely you will be to actually get it done. On a neurological level this is because cortisol (the stress hormone) inhibits the activity in the prefrontal cortex (the rational decision making part of the brain).

Hope that helps and gives you places to look for more

combatrex40 karma

What is the most basic tip you can give a server to help them?

thedynamicwaiter1108 karma

Stop trying to smile at everyone.

Smiling should be given to people who want to be smiled at, and any server will know that there are many customers that instantly dislike you if you come over smiling gleefully all over the place.

Instead, take a moment to mirror their body language and build an unconscious connection with them. Then smile. The shifting of the order of the smile brings massive improvements to the quality of the interaction between you and the guest.

We have different types of techniques for different things, but pretty much everything stems from the basic principle of Mirroring. It can sometimes get me into a bit of bother with people that think that smiling at everyone is the answer to everything, but my own experience as a server tells me that many feel this is not accurate and needs revision.

Hope that helps

Thanks for the question

ben191122 karma

I love this, as someone who isn't normally all smiley even when happy. It is incredibly annoying when the server is putting on a forced smile, let alone the bubbly, smiley, loud ones that try to make everyone smile, and ask how my day is going... kindly fuck off and put my order in please, and I will leave you a good tip.

nmwj29 karma

As a server, I can tell you that we are REQUIRED by management to be like this. To be honest, I don't care about how your day has been most of the time, but management watches us to ensure we are ticking off each item on their list during our approach.

thedynamicwaiter120 karma

Part of what we hope to achieve is to remove that requirement from manager dialogue. The contrast between what we're told to do and what we actually experience on the floor means that pretty universally staff will not consider their managers to be authorities when it comes to customer service, and that puts a barrier between them that gets in the way of the customer's experience.


Is this why when you watch Derren Brown he nods his head a lot of the time?

thedynamicwaiter113 karma

Well spotted!

AtlantaFan40 karma

What are your thoughts on server scripts? For instance, when you go to a chain restaurant like say, Longhorns, and the server follows an introductory script filled with suggestions and recommendations. I can't stand this. It amazes me that so many corporately run restaurants adopt such horrible, phony scripts to implement across their business as a whole. I hate this because it makes me feel like my server has no personality, and are being forced to up-sell from start to finish. I call it robot serving. Have you ever consulted for a company with similar business practices? If so, how did you implement your ideas alongside it?

Edit: a word

thedynamicwaiter132 karma

I call it robot serving too. I have worked with a company who has had a practise like that and it's really hard to get them to see the error in their ways.

A common problem is that some executives think that all waiters are stupid and incapable of doing anything right unless you hand them step-by-step instructions.

I disagree wholeheartedly, and think that the only reason a server might not be doing things right is that they have been taught stupid things or taught in an ineffective way.

As a consultant I have to fight this often, and so far the best method I've found is to simply throw out the scripts and start anew. To convince them to do this takes some work, but I typically will give them some metaphors and case studies to show both how bad scripts are and how much better a more broad but effective toolkit is for avoiding the production of robots.

Thanks, really interesting one!

heart_it_races21 karma

Could you give a brief explanation of how you use empirical data to track things like increased customer satisfaction? What sort of baseline data or post-intervention data do you collect? Thanks for doing this AMA!

thedynamicwaiter125 karma

Great question. As a former physicist is really bugs me that I can't be more empirical just yet.

Essentially I try and split-test wherever possible, but its hard making sure that servers within a split restaurant don't share the techniques, pick things up unconsciously etc.. I'll also try to get servers to keep records for two months before any big training sessions, but again this is quite unreliable.

In terms of the customer satisfaction measures, this is mostly done through tracking tips and spend-per-head, which together indicate how much customers on average are experiencing their time in the restaurant. It is an averages game though, as tips and spend will vary greatly table to table. I'd like to add more official measures of customer satisfaction but I simply don't have the resources or time just yet.

As I'm just really starting out I have to rely quite a lot on studies from Cornell Hotel & Restaurant Association, but eventually I would love to set up my own experiments and microtests for each technique as well as all of them together.

Until then, I have to trust that my trainees keep good records.


ReceiptIsInTheBag19 karma

They were talking about something similar on a Freakonomics podcast recently. What's the most counter intuitive method for increasing tip rate? And does the advice work worldwide, or are some only applicable to individual countries?

thedynamicwaiter113 karma

Not smiling at someone is probably the most counter-intuitive thing we teach.

Some of the techniques we teach will change across cultures if they relate to specific actions/sentances/etc.

In general though, the guts of our methods; Mirroring, is a universal human phenomenon so yes it works anywhere.

Thanks for the question

natronmooretron14 karma

Dishwasher/barback/food runner here: Do you have any advice on how to keep you dignity when you have to clean up puke or unclog a toilet?

thedynamicwaiter112 karma

Go to your special place :)

but seriously, you will perceive more of whatever you pay attention to. Try to focus on singing a song in your head, or thinking about your next vacation while doing it and distract yourself from the full sensory experience you'd have if you thought things like "i hate this job, look what I'm doing, bloody vomit, etc."

Thanks for the question

Janet_Coquette14 karma

For the people that you have worked with, how much do they say that their tips have increased?

thedynamicwaiter115 karma

Generally speaking, increases of anywhere from 5% to 30% in the total amount of tips have been seen.

A challenge is that only servers who work for larger companies that measure tips can get really good data. Those who do it by hand are few and far between, but qualitatively they have told me that their average take has gone up by sometimes 50% for the beginners.

We base a lot of the techniques on studies from researchers in hospitality, so quite often they will have numerical values associated with specific techniques that they were testing. For example, by lightly touching customers on the shoulder at some point during the meal can increase tips from 12% of the bill to 17%, which over a shift can total to a big increase in the total cash taken home.

As we teach quite a few of these techniques, its hard to know the cumulative effect, but I'm always trying to encourage more people to keep good records so I can answer this question more informatively :)

Thanks for the question

bluehat920 karma

Man that is crazy..I know many people who do NOT like to be touched by their waiters.

thedynamicwaiter114 karma

And a waiter trained by me should be able to spot that kind of person and use a different technique instead.

Unlike some restaurant chains I try not to simply tell waiters what to do, but teach them the reasons why the things I'm suggesting the do actually work, so that they can adapt to the many different customers they serve rather than blindly touching everyone or sitting down with everyone etc.

In my experience, servers learn quickly how to conduct the touch in the most tactful and appropriate way - and the few who don't just use another technique instead.

Thanks for pointing out how varied it can be when serving many different customers.

8832712 karma

How do you make money doing this?

thedynamicwaiter115 karma

I plan to make some audio courses and maybe a video product.

Restaurants also sometimes pay me to run training courses in their companies. But I'm doing this because I don't think there are enough resources for waiters starting out, and that the ones that are there are based on quite old mindsets about people. I do my best to distill the research I read in ways that help people.

soccerdude201411 karma

How should waiters deal with "freeloaders"? For example, A few weeks ago, I saw a customer order something, ate THE WHOLE PLATE, then complained that the food tasted horrible and wanted a refund.

thedynamicwaiter127 karma

  1. Remember their face, if they come in again and do it again then you could get your manager to step in and tell them not to come back if they don't like the food.

  2. Assume the best, for now, unless they are abnoxious and give you reason to suspect them for being freeloaders.

  3. (depends on what your boss' policy is) I would tell them that if they ate it all then I can't give a refund, but I can bring them another dish. For any normal people this will be fine and they will accept. If they protest a lot then you can be more certain of their freeloader-ness. Just give it to them for free and remember their face for next time.

These people exist partly because some corporate restaurants have been so adamant that all you need to do to get the food for free is complain, but it is hard to distinguish them from people who genuinely didn't like the food ( - in this scenario the fact they ate it all was the good piece of evidence)

My stance is that any server/company should have the right to refuse service to someone who has a track record of being an ass, whether its by freeloading, being too drunk or rude to staff. The hit to the bank account won't be as large as the damage they will cause if allowed to carry on being a douche.

One of my more expletive comments, but I hope it answered the question.

twotoneskapunk10 karma

How can one improve their diplomacy between coworkers? How do you not be an asshole to coworkers? 'specially the ones that do nothing but bitch and complain and rain on your parade.

thedynamicwaiter120 karma

I personally have an approach that I've learned is hard to adopt.

I try to assume that everyone is a nice person, that they're just trying to live their lives and not get hurt. Sometimes they mess up, other times they are outright damaging, but I cannot honestly say that they are evil or always out to get me (with notable exceptions in world politics)

I work really hard to assume that if they have been a dick to me, that there must be something that has made them really upset, and it may or may not have been caused by me. Either way, my feelings of compassion towards them for the discomfort and angst that led to their behaviour, allows me to react in a positive way more often than a negative one.

Sometimes I mess up and am a dick back, but I keep trying and hope that the times I have been kind outweigh the times I have let things slip. But practise is important, practise of mindfulness will help you to become more mindful of your reactions to bitchy coworkers.

Hope that helps

frostyakajello9 karma

Got any tips for delivery drivers? I am kinda new but personal experience seems to be act/look tired and worn out, but still like you are trying hard for the customer.

thedynamicwaiter18 karma

As with the pizza delivery guy I have no direct experience of that job, but what you said really resonates with me. Some of the best tips I've ever made have come on shifts where things are mad and I'm running around like crazy, but still making the effort to refocus, change my mood and serve the customers in a way that mirrors their mood and then leads them to better moods...then promptly returning to my headless-chicken mode when I leave.

In terms of the psychology of what you suggest, when you visibly make an effort to put aside your own problems and demonstrate that you care about their experience, you instantly create reciprocity (where people instinctively want to repay you if you do something nice for them), which may be returned in smiles, compliments, comforting words or ..yes...tips.

I'm sure the same principles apply to your work, but obviously with a much shorter time frame to work with. In your case as you're at their house, I'd probably also recommend focusing your efforts on removing the discomfort that they might feel about having a stranger at the door of their home. Including the obvious: don't stand too close, don't look menacing, hands out of pockets. Minimise their emotional threat response and you will maximise your tips.

Hope it helps you out and sorry that I don't have direct experience to draw on for that one.

SAMO14159 karma

What are your thoughts on the Sullivan nod?

thedynamicwaiter16 karma

It works well, the psychology of it is fascinating and I use it often.

But, to me its just the tip of the iceberg called Mirroring, in that it works because of mirroring but doesn't really teach you anything other than the actual technique.

The principles behind why it works underlies a lot of what we do teach, so I wouldn't call it a wonder technique. But it has a very useful function. The one warning with be about subtlety, make sure its very slight and not obvious.

Thanks for the question

bubbaloflin48 karma

I work as a pizza delivery driver. So I'm not in the usual restaurant setting because I arrive at their doorstep. I spend a lot less time with the customer and was wondering if there was something to help make better tips .

thedynamicwaiter16 karma

Without direct experience of doing that job I'm cautious to offer advice, but when I worked bar there was a similar situation where you have much less time to work with, don't take it too seriously but here's what I did:

I would try to look for clues in the customer's body language that suggest what mood they were in, such as how much they are moving their hands, whether they are smiling and how fast they are talking, then try to mirror that as best you can in the short time you serve them. But before you reach the tipping point, try to do what we call Lead in our three step method, by smoothly improving your own body language (smile more, move more and talk a bit faster), at which point if you've done it right they should mirror you back and feel better too. That makes the chances of them leaving a better tip much higher than if you just did the same thing with everyone.

As a single side note from a study done in Cornell, mentioning good weather is a great thing to do if you can and it doesn't feel weird - sunshine and warmth is so rooted in our evolutionary history that simply mentioning it can cause feel-good endorphins to be released. Then a phenomenon called reciprocity kicks in and the customer will be more likely to want to give you something back in return for that good feeling.

If it's not a nice day, suggest it might be tomorrow. Even if the weather is bad this technique can still improve your tips by suggesting the chance of good weather and therby still helping them to feel a bit better.

Hope it helps

LordNick728 karma

I've been a server for about 4 years, and I'm a pretty good server: I get moderately good tips and have many 'regulars'.

My question is What is your advice for rude customers? Y'know, the ones that put themselves on a pedestal as soon as they sit down; They complain about the wait, no matter how short; and go out of their way to make your day miserable.

thedynamicwaiter18 karma

Great question, especially given how much I've been talking about mirroring.

The big one is: are you supposed to mirror the guy whose being a jerk?

No, not fully, you should still pick one or two of what we call Signs Of State to mirror to them like their posture or speed of voice, but you definitely shouldn't mirror their rudeness.

Aside from that there's not a huge amount of advice to draw on. Some would tell you to be overly nice and apologetic to them, others that you should be rude back to let them know how it feels.

My perspective is that you hold your tongue and don't get upset by it; chances are they have something going on or some belief that is getting in the way of them including you in the small in-group that they consider worth being nice to. That makes them a person who knows less about their own brain than you do!

But if I really imagine myself in that situation, I would be polite, still use the same techniques but be slower on the smiling. I'd wait for them to start responding positively to me before smiling.

Carrying on from that thought, I'd probably set myself the task of utilising Pavlov's research in positive reinforcement, perhaps if he smiled at me I'd give him a small reward like a bigger smile, or a light touch on the shoulder. When he's being rude I would be less responsive and not let him feel good about making me feel bad.

Then, as a bonus, if he has a good day and isn't as much of a jerk to me, I might give him a free dessert saying: "You come in here a lot and I wanted to thank you for being a good customer". Chances are he's going to associate that dessert with his good behaviour and be more likely to be nice next time.

Hope that helps you

drakmar6 karma

My question would be:

What is your suggestion for the balance of the waiter getting to know the customer vs. not asking too many questions?

thedynamicwaiter115 karma

I am actually quite a shy person in real life, so I've tended to minimize the words that I have to say to my customers; hence why I built a training course about using non-verbal techniques to create connections with customers.

I'd say go with your personality, if its natural for you to ask lots of questions and really get to know people then go for that. If its not your personality then either decide to make it your personality and read read read on the topic of good conversational skills, or focus on the non-conversational things you can do to still give customers a great experience without artificially asking a bunch of questions that you don't really care about.

Thanks for the question

nicasucio5 karma

If you're from the UK, i thought tipping there was not like it is in the USA.

When I lived there a while back, I remember the first time I tipped a waitress: I was leaving the premise and she came running after me to tell me, sir, you left your money. It was lunch time and the bill was 20 quids, and I had left 3 quids on the table, and she gave them back to me. I told her it was her tip, and she was like, yea, but usually is 1 pound or less. Are now waiters/waitresses in the UK being tipped as much as in the USA?

thedynamicwaiter13 karma

Nah, the average in my old restaurant was about 5-8%. Don't think it ever rose above 10% across all customers and staff each day.

The techniques create relative increases in tips, meaning that a customer that would usually tip 15% or 5%, is more likely to leave 20% or 10% respectively.

In the UK there are laws against employers making up minimum wage using the tips, so there is less of a tipping culture around the necessity of it in order for staff to make rent. In this way is may reduce the percentages, but staff (mostly) get all of their tips or get their employer written about in the press.

I think this makes tipping more focused on the quality of service than in the US, as there isn't really a tip-out-of-duty sentiment around it.

Hope that answers your question - its interesting how the two similar countries are so different in this way!

i_cant_tell_you4 karma

i work as a server in the largest restaurant group in the world. lately there have been changes in personnel among the highest people in the company and they have been making a lot of changes to how each of our restaurants is run. cutting costs has become the most important thing that our restaurant does. we have been moving to more frozen items, gotten rid of our uniform service, cutting hours for everyone who works there, and have had 3 price increases in the past 2 years (we hadn't had any in the previous 3 years).

i like the place i work and used to be proud to work at what i considered to be one of the nicest chain restaurants in the US. now i find it difficult to stand behind some of the decisions that upper and middle management are making. do you have any advice on how to deal with this? or is it just time for me to say good-bye and move on to somewhere else?

thedynamicwaiter14 karma

Its hard when your company moves in directions that you dislike, but what you can do about it really depends on how closely you want to stick by your principles.

If you can find ways to reappraise and focus on the good things they do so that your experience isn't compromised then go for it.

But if you can't and you would feel bad about working for a company you didn't believe then there's not much you can do.

Executives often allow the numbers to trump the emotions, which causes short-term increases in their share value etc. but long-term damage to the brand. Trying to convince them otherwise can be very challenging.

I know its a bold move, but say you decide that you are happy not working there anymore and can easily find another job; email the ceo and tell him/her what you think of it. Then try to get your colleagues to do the same and maybe even your favourite customers who share your feelings.

I know that emailing a CEO can seem daunting and scary and thoughts that they won't even read it are ever-present. But I personally have had coffee with 3 CEO's of large UK restaurant chains simply by being brave and sending them an interesting email. It's do-able, and I think that chances are your CEO doesn't know just how bad things are seeming on the ground - if he does and doesn't care, then its probably time to move on.

Good luck and my feelings go out to you in such an ethically challenging situation!

GoldenTaint4 karma

Is there any way to get black people to tip well?

thedynamicwaiter12 karma

Not sure whether to reply with a joke here or to think you're serious.

I'll assume that it is a genuine question about the different tipping practices in that may exist and that it isn't a claim about race etc.

People from cultures other than your own, be it British, South African, Chinese or Korean, may have different standards or practices about tipping. But the techniques I've talked about on here such as mirroring etc. will be useful wherever the person is from as they are based on universal principles of human experience.

Perhaps if you are receiving lower tips from an ethnic group rather than a nationality group then you may benefit from altering the way you are treating that group as different to the way you might treat a white person from the same place.

Wobbly ground here but I hope I navigated it without saying something dumb

SeikoTime3 karma

How much of what you teach them is BS?

thedynamicwaiter12 karma

hopefully none of it. I don't tell them to ask the universe for better tips, or to visualise huge tips every day before work, or to ask a deity for the tips.

I teach them things that I can back up with specific papers or books on the subject. But thank you for the skepticism, there are so many people claiming to be scientific yet not being able to back themselves up that its hard for a newbie not to fall into that camp, but I'm always open to be proved wrong on a technique.

CrashAndBurn693 karma

As a barback for a catering hall that usually has weddings from 100-250 people, got any useful advice for me?

thedynamicwaiter111 karma

Take a look at my article about dealing with large groups of people: www.thedynamicwaiter/blog

The gist of it is that if you go over with poor posture, quiet voice and being overly nice, then as a group of people they will automatically assume that you are an outsider with lower social value. This happens simply because you are an outside-individual and they are the in-group, and unconsciously their minds think that you are trying to get their group's approval, and when you then try to be nice that will confirm it.

Be bold and assert yourself clearly, loudly and with strong posture when you first go over. This sets you up as someone of high social value and someone they should pay attention to. Then of course you lighten up and can laugh, joke and be friendly as much as you like... but the social value will stay there and they will be less likely to ignore you, be rude to you or tease you.

Hope it helps

fresh_cut_vegetables3 karma

Have you ever waited tables? Do you have a degree in psychology?

Yours answers so far have been either basic common sense, or some mumbo jumbo that sounds elegant but wouldn't actually do anything to increase tip.

thedynamicwaiter16 karma

I have waited tables yes for 5 years and counting. No degree in psychology, but I don't claim that anywhere, my degree is in physics.

Sorry if you don't think that my answers have been valuable, but there's a lot of people who aren't lucky enough that mirroring is part of their common sense, and there's a lot of managers that are pushing the always smile thing. As for the mumbo jumbo, I'm doing my best to answer as many questions as I can, so going into detail about what my techniques actually are doesn't really fit the format. If that leaves it feeling unimpressive to you then I apologise. Thanks

magicbullets2 karma

What do you think of Jamie Oliver's list of adjectives for waiters to use?

What can other businesses learn from your advice?

thedynamicwaiter11 karma

I like them. Clearly they're situational and will be different in different regions.

Coming up with a list of words that you like to use is helpful and prevents you from falling into the 'is everything ok' trap.

I personally like fantastic, wonderful and excellent, as well as cheeky if its the right crowd.

Other businesses can learn that emotional connections between client and employee is one of the most important aspects of customer service, and simply smiling at everyone is a terrible idea. We're learning a lot in modern neuroscience, so its not that hard to put some of it to good use!


fencerman2 karma

Are you responsible for some of the annoying shit I've started to see at some chain restaurants, like waiters sitting down at the table with everyone when we're ordering?

thedynamicwaiter11 karma

If its annoying you then probably not.

I try to teach soft skills that are adaptive and change for different customers. I do teach that you can sit down with some customers, and that will increase tips, but I also teach that there are many customers that you should not do sit down with.

I like to stay away from universals, as that's when it gets annoying, and instead try to teach waiters how to effectively pause and reflect before going over to the table, and use their body language to gauge their mood and react appropriately, rather than blindly doing the same thing with everyone, like smiling at everyone blindly.

The effect is that if you're someone who hates people sitting next to you, or hates being nodded at, or generally dislikes servers when they try to use techniques to improve your enjoyment of your meal, that the server would figure that out early and save you from your angst.

Thanks for the question.

moderatelygood1 karma

That's amazing! How did you get started doing this? What degrees or licenses do you have?

thedynamicwaiter11 karma

My degree is actually in physics, but I've always been fascinated with how the brain works and how people interact. I wrote a blog post on how I went from Physics to Waiter Training, www.thedynamicwaiter.com/blog

As far as being a credible source of information, I try to base as much as I can on reputable studies that I've fact-checked and seen how their reception is in the scientific space. I then distil, reorganise and sometimes translate the often challenging language of the studies to make them understandable. I think my time as a physicist helps me to be critical and careful in whose work is reputable.

Thanks for the question

caddis7891 karma

Interesting AMA. Do you attempt reinforce a correlation between the waitperson putting forth more effort in learning their products as well as your emphasis on social interaction? I don't mean to suggest that you should have courses on on food, wine, beer, etc., just an encouragement to them to take some time to learn at least the basics, and that investment will increase their income as well.

thedynamicwaiter11 karma

I try to separate between the things that their managers could tell them in a few words and the things that they could not.

I don't want to tell servers how to do the mechanics of the job and the products as I feel that they can learn that from someone who knows more about their specific situation.

Rather, I see The Dynamic Waiter as a way for me to collect really interesting and up-to-date psychology and neuroscience and package it in a way that servers can understand and apply to their work.

That allows me to specialise more and get a deeper understanding of the topic than someone who tries to teach all the aspects of the job.

But maybe in the future if I have enough people helping asking for it :)


costabrava111 karma

What is the one most influential practice I can implement to improve customer satisfaction therefore increasing my tips?

thedynamicwaiter11 karma

I apologise for restating something in other posts, but its Mirroring.

Mirror your customer's body language, facial expressions and voice and wording and then lead them into more positive moods. Of course there's some if's and but's, but next time you go to a table try mirroring the speed at which they talk, or the posture that they have, or the height of their eyebrows.