If you desire to maximize your tips, pay attention to the details. Restaurant critic Elizabeth Downer believes better restaurant service comes from professional training. If you work for a restaurant that offers only minimal training, find training manuals and videos to train yourself. The quicker you develop professional skills, the sooner you're likely to increase your income.
Maintain a positive attitude regardless of what is going on around you. According to food critics at Chef Seattle, after reviewing hundreds of restaurants, the ones with memorable service were those with happy, smiling servers with real personality. If you define your personal mission as providing your customers with a pleasant dining experience, then attitude really is everything.
Know your menu. While having a great personality is a must, it won't make up for not knowing the details of the products that you sell. Make sure you can explain how the food is prepared, since many restaurant-goers suffer from food allergies.
Listen. One of the greatest compliments you can give another person is to really listen to what they are saying. A customer will know you have heard them when you can repeat what they said to you and when you ask intelligent questions.
Know your location. An excellent waitress serves the same role as a hotel concierge. If you work in a restaurant that is frequented by tourists or business people, become an expert at answering frequently asked questions such as the directions to key landmarks or businesses. Tourists, traveling businesspeople and convention-attendees typically appreciate and will pay for your assistance.
Give your honest opinion about your favorites on the menu. If you present yourself as an expert and a professional in your job, you are more likely to be rewarded accordingly. As Grant from Chef Seattle says, "The one thing that we absolutely hate to hear from our server when we ask for recommendations is, "Everything is good. This really translates to: "I'm too lazy to tell you," or "I haven't personally tried any of the dishes," or "I'm scared of recommending a meal that you won't like (and thus stiff me on a tip)."
Provide service that is prompt, efficient and cheerful, but respect your customers' boundaries. Learning to anticipate your customers' needs is part of being efficient. Make sure to ask if they need catsup or another condiment with French fries or for their steaks. Watch when the drinking glasses are low, but never fill them without asking first.
Notify customers of changes in menu, out-of-stocks or other delays to their order immediately. This gives them time to change their order, if they desire it.
Do that little bit extra for your customers. An excellent example comes from Stacy of "Make More Tips!": "Go the extra mile to accommodate the (iced) tea drinker. Ask if they want extra lemon (bring them a small plate of lemon wedges if they do). If your restaurant offers different types of tea (iced, hot, herbal), be sure to ask the customer which type of tea they want—don’t assume!"