5 Tips on How to Train Restaurant Servers
Posted on August 8, 2018 by Danny Leffel
As an owner or other senior staff at a restaurant, it’s imperative to understand that every restaurant server you hire represents and embodies the values of your company. Regardless of whether your establishment serves up fine dining, fast food, or home-cooked fare, you can’t overstate the value that well-trained waiting staff and good service can deliver to the dining experience.
Doing your best to hire people who you believe are a suitable fit for your particular restaurant business is a good start. However, implementing a structured training program for restaurant servers is a great idea to ensure maximum customer satisfaction, repeat business, and an enhanced reputation. Here are five tips on restaurant server training.
1. Encourage Team Communication
A pivotal aspect of server training is encouraging team communication between restaurant staff. Order placement, inventory control, scheduling, and bookings are all potential problem areas in the smooth operation of any restaurant business.
Issues often stem from a lack of a centralized platform for communication between managers and wait staff, and between the wait staff themselves. When training wait staff, stress the importance of team communication and highlight what can happen when barriers to effective communication exist.
Furthermore, take steps to leverage technology and train restaurant servers in using a team communication app, such as Crew, which gives companies and frontline employees a new way to communicate more efficiently. With features that make it easy to get shifts covered, track and request time off, and find out employee availability, the Crew is a communication app designed specifically for teams that don’t have ready access to effective communication technology on the job.
2. Train Your Servers on Menu Knowledge
Servers who know the menu inside-out are in a much better position to interact with customers, answer their questions, and make recommendations. You can prepare staff with this knowledge by putting together a brief presentation highlighting the dishes and beverages available at your restaurant.
It’s also a good idea to give each restaurant server a copy of the restaurant’s menu and ask them to look over it during their free time. You can even quiz your waiters and waitresses as part of server training to prove how well they know the menu. An important note is to convey the importance of allergen and food safety information during server training.
Lastly, let the servers sample some of the food on offer at your restaurant. Think of it this way — someone could study and remember everything about an apple, but they’d never truly know an apple until they tasted one. Similarly, servers can greatly enhance their menu knowledge by simply trying some of the food.
3. Teach Proper Serving Etiquette
Not every new waiter knows the exact details of proper serving etiquette, and it’s a good idea to include etiquette tips as part of your training program. While the specifics of restaurant etiquette differ in fine-dining restaurants versus local family-oriented eateries, a few universal guidelines apply, including:
- Convey the importance of being pleasant and greeting diners warmly as they enter the restaurant.
- Train restaurant servers to always watch out for guests that need attention. The key is to focus on attentive serving rather than intrusive serving.
- Teach servers to always bring the dishes from each course to all guests simultaneously.
- Make sure servers know to serve from the left with their left hands and clear from the right with their right hands.
4. Encourage a Professional Appearance
During server training, prioritize the expected appearance of servers, including dress code requirements and expected standards. Emphasize clarity when it comes to things such as attire, facial hair, jewelry, and piercings.
Be consistent with the dress code and remember that front of house staff should look professional. Customers who see well-dressed staff are more likely to infer that the owners of a given restaurant are serious about their business. Moreover, food critics, competitors, and other guests in the restaurant business typically have a keen eye for the small details — don’t give them a reason to criticize before they’ve even sat down and tried the food.
Simplify communication and turn up teamwork!
Improve team communication and scheduling all in one place. Manage schedules and shift covers without the hassle, stay organized and informed and save time with Crew.
5. View Training as Continuous
The restaurant business is demanding and high-pressure for everyone involved, and it’s vital not to overload new servers with too much information when they just begin working for you. Take a continuous approach to training and refine your methods, for example, by using feedback from mystery guests.
By constantly honing the skills of your restaurant servers, you help them become more efficient, more tuned in to what guests want, and better at achieving the all-important balance in how much they interact with guests.
Implement these tips for training your restaurant servers, and you’ll go a long way towards offering a memorable service at your restaurant that delights guests, increasing loyal repeat customers as well as your restaurant’s bottom line.