Writing from Paris, the Telegraph’s Henry Samuel claims French journalists have disclosed an impressive array of techniques used by Gallic waiters to boost their tips.
The tricks were included in an article called “Seven serving tips to increase the bill”, on the French news website rue89.
Sylvain, a waiter interviewed by rue89, said he recalls advice from a manager at the Costes restaurant group, who told him:
“Waiters are here to screw the clients, not physically but by taking his money. Everything is codified, thought out down to the smallest details to sell the most products.”
Aurélie Viry, a teacher with AV-Conseil, which offers catering and hostelry courses, said there was more to the art of serving than simply taking orders.
“Everything that can be sold means more profits. It’s all about how it’s proposed. We’re not forcing the customer, who can always say no,” she said.
Viry stressed that above all, the customer must associate the dining experience with pleasure. “Hence, you must ask, ‘Would another coffee give you pleasure?’ rather than “No more coffee?” she said.
In other words, instead of simply asking customers if they want more coffee, ask them if they would enjoy more coffee.
Here are 7 tips gleaned from the unwritten rule book on how “garçons” from Paris boost tip amounts:
7) Seat diners at a table by the front door or window in an otherwise empty restaurant to attract more customers.
6) Ask closed questions to shift customer attention away from cheaper options: “Will you have an aperitif or move straight onto wine?”
5) List wines from cheap to expensive, such as “Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Chablis?” Customers tend to remember the last wine mentioned and don’t dare to ask for a waiter to repeat the list.
4) Never place bread on the table before an order, as diners are likely to get full too fast. Bring bread after delivering the entree, even if it means forgetting it entirely so customers will be hungry for dessert.
3) Pre-meal peanuts or other salty snacks are encouraged to increase drink sales.
2) During and after the main course, always check to see if the customer is satisfied and when the main course is completed, quickly clear plates and glasses from the table to serve as psychological encouragement to order more food or drinks.
1) Never list desserts verbally. Bring the desert menu to the table. [Better yet, roll over the dessert cart for eye appeal]. And if the customer is paying in cash make sure you leave plenty of smaller bills for a tip when bringing back the customer’s change.
Too bad the manager at the Costes restaurant group suggested Sylvain establish an adversarial relationship with a customer.
Simply making an earnest attempt to enhance a customer’s dining experience is so much more rewarding than attempting to victimize patrons.
Customers can sense when a waiter is trying to sell them something, and that may negatively affect their tip.