Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Step By Step Guide to Increase Your Tip Pot Total

Many people can say they have experienced a job in the catering industry, whether that’s waiting tables or working at a bar. When you start a new job, the idea of customer satisfaction is drilled into your brain. You are constantly doing your absolute best to make sure everything is on time, everyone is happy and most importantly plastering that smile on your face when all you want to do is scream! So why is it that when you check the tip box at the end of the night, it’s completely empty… or there’s some 5p coins floating about that people would rather throw away than effortfully put back in their wallet. It’s disheartening when you feel like your hard work has gone unnoticed, something I can certainly vouch for.
But this can all change. Yes, you read that right! Follow my fool proof guide below and in no time, you’ll be raking in the money and leaving a very happy person!

What I argue to be the most efficient way to get tips, simply JUST ASK FOR THEM. Have you ever been out for a meal and been handed the card machine asking, ‘do you want to tip?’. I bet it made you think a lot more about whether the waitress/waiter deserved a tip or not. Flynn and Lake (2008) found that compliance was much higher when people just asked for something, even when they thought that asking would not get them far. This was also the case in a study by Clark and Hatfield (1989). So just ask for a tip, whether that’s personally, on a receipt, or on a card machine… you have a much higher chance of getting tips than by simply not asking! You have £0 to lose and ££££££ to gain!

Another efficient way you can persuade a customer to give you a tip is by simply giving them something. It is a general rule that when someone gives you something, you feel obliged to return the favour (Cialdini, 2007). This is called the reciprocity effect. Research has found that you can increase tip numbers by giving a small favour, like a chocolate, along with the bill (Strohmetz, Rind, Fisher & Lynn, 2002). This tactic can increase the tip total by up to 14%, especially if you are generous with the number of treats you give them. To further this, when someone is given something for free they are also more likely to buy additional products (Gruner, 1996). This is also a great way to increase your business sales as people are more likely to buy more drinks if you give them something first. So, start giving customers things for free, you’ll get your tips, the company will get more revenue. It’s a win-win for everyone… other than the customer who has just left spending much more than they ever intended to!

Do you have tip boxes scattered around the bar that are constantly empty at the end of the night? Fear not, this tactic will have them full in no time! Before the restaurant opens, many waitresses visibly place some coins and notes in the box so others can see them (Cialdini, 2014), in order to persuade others to tip. This situation can be termed as social proof. People like to follow what others have done as it reinforces that it is the correct thing to do (Lun, Sinclair, Whitchurch & Glenn, 2007), so if they see others have tipped then they are also much more likely to tip too!

You must be the only person that serves a specific customer every time they come to the bar… no, seriously! The concept of mere exposure, proposed by Zajonc (1968), states that we come to like things we frequently encounter. Research supports this, as it has been discovered that continuous exposure to a face led subjects to like the person more (Bornstein, Leone & Galley, 1987). If customers are going to like familiar people, then they are much more likely to tip those familiar people. Also, it would be a great idea to place more tip boxes on the bar as people will become more familiar with them… and then tip you. Basically, you need to become familiar to them. It’s as simple as that!

Story Time:
A personal customer experience of mine taught me one of the most important tip gaining techniques. I went out for a meal with my family to a steakhouse restaurant in my home town. We entered the restaurant to be greeted by a friendly girl with a beaming smile on her face who led us to our table. She then asked our names and told us hers, proceeding to call us by our names for the whole night. When our food was brought over, she knew exactly what food went to what name. Not going to lie, I was amazed! Afterwards, she complemented my coat and I told her where it was from. We gave her a well-deserved tip along with the bill and left.

While typing this I realise how gullible my family and I now look no matter how well deserved the tip was! The waitress implemented the foot in the door technique, as we established a relationship through the name calling and smiling. It has been shown that when waitresses/waiters smile (Tidd & Lockard, 1978) and call people by their names (Rodrigue, 2012), it increases the amount of tip a customer leaves as they feel they have a commitment to their waiter. Calling customers by their names and plastering that smile on your face (no matter how fake it may be) will lead to a relationship where the customer cannot resist tipping you!

It is now clear to me that the waitress used flattery to secure her tip. Flattery is something we all use because we know it works (Cialdini, 2007). It has been found that people like those who use flattery more, compared to those who don’t (Colman & Olver, 1978). By complementing me on my coat, the waitress made me like her more (and feel better about my style), which led to me tipping her as I felt like she had done a good job! Start complementing people, it worked on me, it’ll work on other people!

I hope you have learnt many ways to earn those well-deserved tips!


Bornstein, R. F., Leone, D. R., & Galley, D. J. (1987). The generalisability of subliminal mere exposure effects: Influence of stimuli perceived without awareness on social behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 53, 1070-1079.

Cialdini, R. B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of persuasion. New York: Collins.

Cialdini, R. B. (2014). Influence: Science and practice. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Clark, R. D., & Hatfield, E. (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2, 39-55.

Colman, A. M., & Olver, K. R. (1978). Reactions to flattery as a function of self‐esteem: Self‐enhancement and cognitive consistency theories. British Journal of Clinical Psychology17, 25-29.

Flynn, F. J., & Lake, V. K. (2008). If you need help, just ask: underestimating compliance with direct requests for help. Journal of personality and social psychology95, 128-143.

Gruner, S. J. (1996, November). Reward good consumers. Inc., p. 84.

Lun, J., Sinclair, S., Whitchurch, E. R., & Glenn, C. (2007). (Why) do I think what you think? Epistemic social tuning and implicit prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology93, 957-972.

Rodrigue, K. M. (2012). Tipping tips: the effects of personalization on restaurant gratuity (Doctoral dissertation).

Strohmetz, D. B., Rind, B., Fisher, R., & Lynn, M. (2002). Sweetening the till: The use of candy to increase restaurant tipping. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 300-309.

Tidd, K. L., & Lockard, J. S. (1978). Monetary significance of the affiliative smile: A case for reciprocal altruism. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society11, 344-346.

Zajonc, R. B. (1968). Attitudinal effects of mere exposure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9, 1-27.

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