Waiters are more than just employees. They are the face and representatives of your establishment. Even if you hire a server with many years of experience, they might be accustomed to how things are done at their previous job, which means you will still have to guide and teach them how you want tasks to be carried out in your restaurant.
The initial training stage should cover all the information they need and have them prepared to give customers excellent service. To make sure you have covered everything during the training process, take a look at our tips for training waiters.
1. Create A Training Manual
Whether your waiter is experienced or not, a training manual will allow them to always reference instructions or look up answers to their questions. Every waiter training manual should have the following information.
- Mission Statement- This section should explain to your servers what type of experience you want to give your customers. Describe the type of environment you want to create, what type of food you plan to serve, and the prices customers should expect.
- Dress Code Requirements- Specifically describe what type of clothing employees are allowed to wear or if uniforms are mandatory. Inform employees of what constitutes a professional appearance in your establishment.
- How To Provide Service:
- Create A Server Script- Your script should include how you want servers to greet customers, take orders, explain the menu, make suggestions, and offer the check.
- Upselling Instructions- This section should teach servers how to sell expensive food items or add-ons in a subtle and friendly manner.
- Etiquette - All of your waiters should strictly follow dining room manners which can result in excellent customer service and might even earn waiters higher tips. Your etiquette guidelines should include things like:
- Being courteous
- Never refusing assistance
- How to handle tableware
2. Hold A Server Orientation
This doesn’t have to be an all-day event, but as the restaurant owner, it’s a good idea to sit with new hires and give them some one-on-one time with you. This is especially important if you are not at your restaurant every day, as it allows them to see and get to know you as a person. Tell them about your background, the restaurant’s history, and any other background information you can.
3. Shadow A Server
New employees should shadow your best and most experienced waiters, so they know what to expect during their own shifts. Ensure they are shadowing waiters during different types of shifts such as:
- busy hours
Make sure to inform experienced waiters that you are matching them with a new server for training. Remind them to show the new server where the supplies are stored, the opening and closing procedures, and how to get side work done.
4. Have A Menu Tasting
A deep understanding of the menu will give your servers the skills to become great at upselling. By holding a menu tasting for your new servers, they’ll quickly become familiar with food items and be better prepared to answer any customer questions. Not to mention, memorizing food items will become a lot easier. Keep in mind to have a menu tasting with every new dish that is added.
5. Hold A Roleplay
By having yourself or another staff member play the role of the customer, you will have an opportunity to teach your new server how to deal with real-life situations. This is also a great time to answer your new employee's questions. During the roleplay, make sure your server has learned how to:
- Deal with an unhappy customer
- Knows when to get the manager involved
- Knows how to serve multiple tables
Never Stop Teaching
As mentioned before, things like your restaurant menu, seating layout, or ordering system may change over time. Every time you are faced with a major change, you must teach every server how to adapt to these new situations. Make sure you update your training manual as well so your employees can have a reference in case you’re not around. Keep in mind not to overwhelm employees with changes as it can be difficult to remember all the new policies. And remember, happy employees can lead to happy customers.