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Cornell Professor Publishes Updated and Expanded Techniques to Improve Restaurant Tips

publication date: Jan 30, 2014
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author/source: Michael Lynn, Burton M. Sack Professor of Food and Beverage Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration
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Cornell Center For Hospitality Research



By: Michael Lynn Ph.D. author-image

Executive Summary:

Approximately two million waiters and waitresses in the United States depend on tips for their income. These servers would benefit from knowing and using techniques to increase their tips. This manual offers twenty such techniques. All twenty techniques listed here have been experimentally tested and found to increase tips. Not all the techniques work for all servers in all situations, but many are universally applicable. The techniques are as follows: use makeup (for waitresses); wear something unusual; introduce yourself by name; squat down next to the table; stand physically close to the customer; touch the customer; smile; compliment the customer's food choices; repeat the order back to the customer; build the check with suggestive selling; entertain the customer; forecast good weather; write "thank you" on the check; write a patriotic message on the check; draw a picture on the check; call the customer by name; use tip trays with credit card insignia; give the customer candy; provide tipping guidelines; and play songs with pro-social lyrics. The techniques are described in detail, together with the experiments that demonstrate their effectiveness and the reasons I think they work.


Free tool (in the form of a booklet) from Center for Hospitality Research aims to improve servers' incomes

The Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) has issued an expanded booklet of techniques that waiters and waitresses can use to improve their tips. The booklet, "Mega Tips 2: Twenty Tested Techniques to Increase Your Tips," by Michael Lynn, is published with the intention of improving the incomes of the two million people who wait on guests at restaurants in the United States. "MegaTips 2" is available from the CHR at no charge, http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu/research/chr/pubs/tools/2011.html.

Lynn, the Burton M. Sack Professor of Food and Beverage Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, has both conducted his own research on tip-enhancing techniques and examined studies conducted by numerous other researchers. "In this booklet, I present twenty specific techniques that have been shown to increase servers' tips in many cases," he explained. "Of course, not all these techniques will work for all people in all restaurants. Most are particularly suited to the fast-casual restaurant environment. However, some will work in almost any restaurant. The main point here is that these techniques have been tested and proven to work in at least some environments, so that servers can be confident that the techniques are worth trying to see if they work for them as well."

"MegaTips 2" adds six new techniques to the original fourteen outlined in Lynn's original "MegaTips" manual. The added techniques are as follows: use makeup (for waitresses); stand physically close to the customer; compliment the customer's food choices; write a patriotic message on the check; provide tipping guidelines; and play songs with pro-social lyrics. 

Lynn also provides additional explanation about one of the more intriguing of the original techniques, squatting at the table. "It turns out that not all customer groups will appreciate this, because some customers have greater personal-space needs," Lynn said. "I explain how this works in the booklet."

Lynn describes the techniques in detail, outlines the experiments that demonstrate their effectiveness, and suggests the reasons they work. Lynn stresses that he would very much like to hear from waiters and waitresses who have tried the techniques. For those interested in seeing whether the "MegaTips" work for them, the booklet explains how to test the techniques, and Lynn is willing to analyze data from servers who conduct their own experiments.


About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 79 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.




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