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Every Little Bit Helps
Hereís a little storyÖ There was a man who came into the restaurant every day for an early dinner. There werenít many tables at that time so it wasnít like he was taking up table space. He ordered the same thing every day. If we were out of his usual he had a back up order and it didnít bother him at all if he had to use it. The tip was small based on the total of his bill. He would leave $1.50. This amounted to approximately 9%. Servers didnít want to serve him due to the low percentage. I waited on him every day I was able to. Hereís why: $1.50 per day, five days a week, four weeks a month, twelve months a year comes to $360.00. At the time this meant he paid just about half of my auto insurance for me, for doing nothing more than making 4 trips to his table a day.
Serving him didnít take 3 minutes out of my day in total so the wage he paid me was $30.00 per hour.
The moral of the story is that every little bit helps. Get enough nickels and you are a millionaire. This doesnít mean I aim to make a pittance for my efforts, it does mean I appreciate every extra thing I am able sell a guest.

While weíre on that subject, letís take a look at what an up sell means in real dollars and cents. When I say up sell what I really mean is extra sell. Iím not talking about the $2 extra for top shelf liquor, Iím talking about selling a dessert, an appetizer, a more expensive entrťe or something along those lines. While looking at these numbers Iím going to do the unthinkable, Iím going to assume some things: an up sell is $6.00, you serve 16 tables a night and each table has an average of 3 people. This means you serve 48 people a night. I think this is a pretty fair number. A number which is not in ďdream landĒ, you can serve this many a night without problem. Iím also going to go out on a limb and assume you make seventeen percent for your efforts. If you are not making that much, consider finding another job.
Letís talk about how much extra I think you can sell per shift. I think most servers, if they work at it, can sell an extra round of drinks, or actually serve an alcoholic drink instead of a soft drink one out of about 6 tries. That amounts to, give or take, three extra drinks a night for a total of $18.00. I think you can sell a dessert to one out of eight tables, which is two desserts, a night or $12.00. These are bare minimum numbers Iím talking about.
Another way to look at it: for every $6 extra dollars you sell, if you make 17% gratuity, you make an extra $265.00 a year. So take that a little further and you see that for every four extra things you sell a night you make an extra thousand dollars income per year. Make your own raise, or bonus or whatever you want to call it. The bottom line is you can make more money if you want to.
Be a go-getter and letís see what can happen. Letís say you sell an extra 6 items at $6.00 each per night and instead of 17% you make 20% because you go the extra mile for your guests and they leave you a little more. This works out to $1,872.00 a year. Thatís EXTRA CASH just for asking a few questions. Remember that weíre talking about low numbers as well. Many servers serve more tables and more guests than that a night so the numbers are that much higher.
Letís take a look at it another, possibly easier to follow, way. For each $5.00 item you serve, if you are making a 20% gratuity, you make a dollar for walking it to the table. Not bad in my opinion. Iíll walk things to tables for $1 each all night long. If you were to sell each table $5 more worth of stuff all night long, with the previous assumptions, you will make an extra $16 a night. Thatís $80 a week or $320 a month. What could you do with an extra $320 a month? Except for my rent and car payment $320 would pay my bills for me. Not bad for just asking a few questions.
Now letís look at the overall percentage. Letís say your guest check average is $18.00. You should know what your average is every night, strive to push it higher, youíll make more if itís higher and itís a good overall gauge of how effective you are at selling. If itís $18 and you serve 40 guests a night thatís $720.00 in sales per night, a decent number. At 17% you should be making $122.40 before tip out. If you increase your percentage to 20% you make $144.00 a night. You gave yourself a 15% raise. If you sell each guest one dollar more thatís $19/guest or $760/night amounting to $129 @ 17% or $152 @ 20%. So $1 more per guest gives you a 7% raise. Thatís just one dollar per guest! Thatís two thousand dollars a year!

Letís take a different look at it. If you serve one extra table of two you stand to sell $36 more for the day. At  20% thatís an extra $7.20. Do that every night you work and you make an extra $144 a month or $1,870 a year. All for picking up a two top, and people wonder why Iím always willing to pick up a table! Where I live, I could fly to Las Vegas for the weekend, go to two shows, eat well and spend over $300 a day gambling for $1,870.
Still not sold? Letís look at it from one last angle. Each person you serve spends $18.00 and tips you 20% thus you earn $3.60. Yearly thatís $860 for every person you serve. Still not want to take the extra table or the party of 12? Yea, thatís what I thought! Me too, bring Ďem on and do it every single day please.
Serving isnít for everyone, not everyone has what it takes to be a good server. If you are one of them you can make a great wage for the amount of education required. If you actually think about what you are doing I believe the average server can make quite a bit more than they do. All it takes is a little planning, thought and effort. Often the effort you make will in turn make your shift easier as well as make you more money.

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