Learning how to build and maintain rapport with your guests

A friend recently sent me a message on Facebook before his shift.  He is fairly new to the serving game, but from what I can tell he is improving quickly.  He told me he was heading into a shift and needed to make good money.  He asked if I had any quick advice for him.  I thought about it for a moment and came up with a simple instruction.  I told him to smile at everyone and act like he liked them.  He wrote me back the next day and told me that it was not only his most lucrative shift, but that his manager complimented him as well.

Some of you are sitting back and thinking that story was pretty lame.  I think you might be missing the point.  Beyond simply being a competent server, there is no more important factor in your tip than whether or not you can build rapport with your guests.  How they perceive you is the difference between 10%, 15%, 20%, or 50%.  I can bore you with a bunch of studies that prove this, but instead I will share the original post on this topic.

Building and Maintaining Rapport

So if your tip is determined by how much the guest likes you, how do you make them like you?  The secret is held in the two simplest ways to make someone like you.

People like people who like them:  This is an irrefutable fact of life.  When someone dislikes us or finds us annoying, we think less of them.  When someone likes us we are drawn to them.  We feel they obviously have good taste if they like us.  This is the root of the advice to my friend.  Smiling at guests and expressing that you are glad they are there will make them more likely to think highly of you.  This is how rapport is built. 

People like people who are like them: This is the second most important factor for the guest after feeling that the server likes them.  We like people with whom we share common interests.  It could be a sports team or disliking the temperature outside.  This builds rapport, makes you relatable, and sets you apart from the generic server.

Some of you are probably thinking this week’s topic is pretty self explanatory.  Like most of the things I write about it makes sense, but is not something that we attempt about every day.  This is why it is a skill focus for the week.  Spend one week trying to show every guest that you like them and have some sort of common ground.  You will see the results in the tips you receive and the rapport you build.

Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips is the new book from the author of The Hospitality Formula Network. It contains the 52 essential skills of the exceptional server. This book teaches the philosophy to turn average service into an exceptional guest experience that will rapidly increase your tips. This book shows how you can provide better customer service and dramatically improve your tips. Enter the coupon code “squared” to receive 20% off your copy today.