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Are you a tipping category hotel worker? Do you want to increase your tipping income by 10 to 30 percent? Yes? Then read Michael Lynn’s “Mega Tips: Scientifically Tested Techniques to Increase Your Tips.” Lynn explains 14 methods that are proven to increase your tips.

Professor Wm. Michael Lynn is a nationally recognized expert on tipping (gratuities). He teaches consumer behavior and tourism marketing at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, New York.

Professor Lynn paid his way through school by busing and waiting on tables and bartending. This experience led him to focus his research and study on tipping behavior. Professor Lynn has published over 35 papers on the subject and is frequently cited in magazines, newspapers, and trade journals.

Americans spend some $16 billion in tips a year. It makes good business sense for servers and food and beverage managers to understand why people tip. This can lead to better operational policies that can increase sales and servers’ incomes, reduce turnover, and enhance the customer’s satisfaction and experience.

Professor Lynn’s “Mega Tips” details 14 techniques which were tested and found to work in mostly low to mid-price restaurants around the country.

Some of these methods may not work in high end restaurants or may require approval by your manager or hotel. It would be a good idea to give copies of “Mega Tips” to your manager and co-workers and discuss how some of these methods could be used at your restaurant. “Mega Tips” can be freely downloaded from-- showpdf/chr/research/tools/ 

LynnMegaTipsFinal.pdf. Or call your ILWU Division Office or write to ILWU, 451 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu, HI 96814 for a copy.

Excerpts from “Mega Tips” is reprinted in the VOICE by permission from Lynn.

Being mimicked or copied can be irritating when it is obvious and prolonged. That is why mimicry is so popular among children as a means of tormenting their siblings. However, researchers have found that briefly and subtly imitating or mimicking others increases those others’ liking for and interpersonal closeness to the imitator. This suggests that you may be able to increase your tips by subtly mimicking your customers’ verbal behavior.

Rick van Baaren and his colleagues tested this possibility at a restaurant in the Netherlands. Two waitresses randomly assigned their customers to either mimicry or a non-mimicry condition. In the mimicry condition, the waitresses repeated customers’ orders word for word when taking those orders. In the non-mimicry condition, the waitresses did not repeat the orders but did indicate that they got die order by saying things like “okay!” or “coming up!” Mimicry increased the number of customers who left a tip from 52 percent in the non-mimicry condition to 78 percent in die mimicry, condition. It also doubled the average tip of those leaving tips from 1.36 Dutch guilders in the non-mimicry condition to 2.73 guilders in the mimicry condition!

Tipping practices are much different in the United States than in the Netherlands, so mimicry may not produce quite as dramatic an effect in this country as it did in the above study. However, human nature is basically the same everywhere, so that study does suggest you can increase your tips to some degree by repeating your customers’ orders. Given the low cost of this behavior, it is certainly a tactic worth trying.

MEGA Tip #11 : SMILE
 Smiling is a well known tactic of ingratiation and social influence. It is a rare person who hasn’t heard the phrase “Laugh and the whole world laughs with You,” and smiling certainly works the same way. Research has confirmed the cultural wisdom on smiling and has found that smiling people are perceived as more attractive, sincere, sociable, and competent than are unsmiling people. These interpersonal effects of smiling suggest that you may be able to increase your tip earnings by smiling at your customers.

Kathi Tidd and Joan Lockard tested the power of smiling at a cocktail lounge in Seattle. Customers sitting alone in the lounge were used as subjects. The waitress in the test randomly assigned half of these solo customers to receive a large, opened-mouth smile and the other half to receive a small, closed-mouth grin. Those customers receiving the small grin left an average tip of 20 cents, while those customers receiving the large smile left an average tip of 48 cents. This represents an increase of 140 percent!

The average bill and tip sizes in restaurants are typically much larger than in cocktail lounges, so smiling probably will not have quite as dramatic an effect on your tips as it did on the cocktail waitress’s tips. However, these results do indicate that smiling increases tips. You should try giving customers big, toothy smiles and see how much your tips improve.