So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Quick tip

Always read the name on the credit card and always look at the signature block.


No, you’re not going to bust them if they haven’t signed it or compare their signature on the chit.

The first thing that you are going to do is see if it’s the wife’s name (assuming that it’s not a unisexual name like Leslie, of course). Occasionally, the husband will present the spouse’s card, or you’ll see him take the check presenter but not see him pass it to his wife. You will probably get brownie points if you notice and give the presenter directly to the wife and say Mrs. So-and-So, assuming that it’s clear that they’re married.

Which brings me to the next part. By all means, use the name. You have it right on the card. It adds a personal touch at the very moment that the tip is going to be assigned. If the name is difficult, use your disgression as to whether to say it. Most people will forgive a mispronunciation if you say, “Is it Mr. Unpronouncable”? If you’re wrong, they’ll correct you. If you nail it, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. Remember, people love to hear their own names.

You’d be surprised what else the card can tell you. For instance, the other night, I saw the corporate name under the guest’s
name. I realized that it was the name of our main purveyor. I said, “So you’re responsible for our (fill in the blank). His mouth dropped and he exclaimed, “How did you know”? I chuckled and said, “A little bird told me”. He said, “Really, how did you know”? I said, “It’s on your card”. He and his guests were really impressed that I knew and he said, “I’m going to text the owner of your company tomorrow and tell him” (whether or not he did is irrelevant). He wrote an $50 tip (on a $400 check) and left me a $100 bill on top of it. So you never know. Let’s say that you notice that the card indicates that the guy works for your bank because it’s a Great Bank of the US corporate card and that’s your bank. You might pull out your checkbook or debit card and say, “Nice bank you work at. I’m a loyal customer”. That HAS to increase your chances of a good tip.

Finally, by looking at the signature block, you might see the phrase “Check ID”. If you see that, ask for his/her ID. You can’t imagine how grateful they’ll be for you protecting them or being the 1 in 20 that doesn’t notice.

Remember, it’s the little things, especially at tip time!


6 responses to “Quick tip

  1. Michael Said August 27, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Nice advice here. I you handled me like this when I visit your restaurant I would be sure to come back (if your food is good) 🙂

  2. Kimaura September 27, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I thank you for the post it definitely is a great tip to read the name on the back of the card. However i don’t think that its appropriate for a waiter to call a customer by the name on the card. Unless the customer felt comfortable enough to tell you their name what make you thin they’ll be comfortable with you using their name? Also with credit card scams going on i know that as a customer i would be wary of anyone who took too much notice to my credit card, i mean if they remembered the name did they also remember the pin? the security code?

    • teleburst September 27, 2011 at 8:25 am

      Well, I guess inappropriateness is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve been doing it for years and my general impression is that people perceive it in a positive fashion. The PIN issue is irrelevant since a PIN isn’t given to the waiter (or shouldn’t). While people should be concerned about security, if a crooked waiter is going to steal a card number, he our she isn’t going to draw attention to it by using the name. At least that’s how I see it. Seems like unnecessary worry to me.

  3. brettgard September 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Good post! I like that you acknowledge that the little things make the difference because I absolutely agree. The little things make the dinning experience memorable and in turn make you more money, but I would suggest getting to know the customer’s name before the end of the meal. Most people love being called by their name. If your able to get this information from the host then definitely do so it will create a more “family-like” experience and who doesn’t want to take care of “family” when it comes time to tip.

  4. Caveman October 24, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Nice post. I work as a bartender and use these techniques on a nightly basis. I also like to look at the last name on the card and as I hand the guest his bill…say thankyou Mr. so and so. Guests love this little extra personal touch.

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