Sales Contests to Increase Server Tips


To sell is to serve. To serve is to sell.  If your servers and bartenders can grasp this concept, they’ll go far in this business. To help them get the hang of it, you may need to provide a little incentive in the form of good ol’ fashioned competition. Here are a few sales contests that focus on increasing sales and server tips. Servers who do well will win in more ways than one! 

Big Tips

All you’ll need to get started is a notepad or whiteboard to keep track of running tip totals and prizes for those who receive the most 20% server tips.  The rules are simple: The servers and bartenders who show the most 20% tips on credit-card slips at the end of the shift win. Structure the contest so there are several winners. You might have first-, second- and third-place finishers. You could even give out a special prize for the person who earns the biggest tip.

Floating $10 Bill

Simplicity defines this incentive to increase sales and server tips. All you need is a $10 bill and a menu item you want to sell more of. Here’s how it works: Say you want to sell more appetizers. The first person to sell one pockets the $10 bill. The first to sell two takes control of the $10. The first to sell three gets the $10 from the one who sold two. The exchange continues throughout the shift. At a pre-determined time — or when the first server is cut from the shift — the person holding the $10 keeps it. Only one person walks away with the $10, but everybody has fun maximizing order-taking while increasing their sales and tips!

Balloon Your Sales

This sales contest is a little more complicated, but it will get your servers’ attention. First, determine the menu item you want to feature in the contest, and train your staff to sell it. Obtain a variety of prizes. Write each of their names on a small piece of paper, roll it up tight and place it inside a helium balloon. Attach the balloons to strings and float them in the server break room or some other out-of-the-way area. Prior to the contest shift, set a minimum number of the menu item that must be sold before contestants get a crack at the balloons. Set the minimum fairly high — otherwise you’ll need a lot of balloons. At the end of the shift, conduct the balloon-popping ceremony. If a server, for example, sells two more than the set minimum, he or she pops two balloons and wins whatever is written on the paper concealed inside. To add a little suspense to the proceedings, go for variety in the prizes — some small (like choice of stations on the next shift or lotto tickets) and some big (gift certificates, electronics, etc.). Save money by trading out your own gift cards for those of other local businesses.

Training is the Key to Increasing Server Tips

Before starting any sales contest, use a pre-shift team meeting to explain to your staff how exceptional service naturally leads to higher sales and more server tips. Train your staff on the connection between service and sales. Practice product knowledge and sales dialogue. The Service & Sales Excellence Waitstaff Training Series is online restaurant training to jump start any restaurant sales program . Click here to learn more.

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