7 Tips on How to Train Your Restaurant Wait-staff5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Restaurants work in such a fast dynamic pace, that one may think it is impossible to keep up. The wait staff is often left with no guidance and no opportunities for development. That is why according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the restaurant employee turnover rate in 2016 surpassed a whopping 70%. With a 72.5 % following in the next years. That means for every ten employees, seven will leave by the end of the year, costing restaurants precious money and time in training and re-hiring.
Except for these statistics, they also provided the reasons why people decide to quit. By no surprise, lack of opportunities to advance was the number one reason.
The costs of replacing them, have proved to be much more of a loss than a gain. So why not just conduct wait staff training properly, in order to keep them happy while they work productively!
Here are seven tips on how you can manage to do that:
Hold an orientation training
It does not matter if the staff you’re hiring has lots of previous experience in serving. Bear in mind that every restaurant is unique, with its own customer’s preferences and background history. That is why holding an orientation training session should be the first step you undertake in restaurant waiter training. Make sure you introduce the basics of your business: best practices, an introduction to the management and staff, your principle’s and philosophy of work, a tour on your restaurant’s facilities, an introduction of the menu (a tasting of it too, maybe) and other relevant first-hand information.
Cross train your servers
Being able to manage instant emergencies in serving could be of use to each member of your staff. That’s why it is recommended that you let them try and walk on the host’s shoes, to greet and meet diners, work with the chef, dishwashers and behind the bar. These possibilities will allow them to become a lot more flexible in their duties. But, what matters most is that they will all gain a sense of appropriate customer service. Having your waiters ready to jump in any time you need them will let them know what it takes to run the restaurant successfully.
Shadow an experienced server
Using the experience of your older servers is always a good idea. Because new employees will get to see in practice how the culture of your restaurant has been created. Having a consistent and uninformed way of serving is very important in the restaurant business. You can include various number of training and areas where you want them to be involved. They can shadow their colleagues on different services, like:
- How to take orders
- Learn where items are stocked
- Restaurant layout
- How to use the POS system
- Side work duties
Perform scenarios and role-plays
Some restaurants apply real scenarios they encounter in their daily interactions with unsatisfied customers in order to test employees and see their problem-solving skills. This is sometimes done by the staff only; however, it is best to invite third parties and trainers to evaluate your staff better and provide neutral feedback. Perspectives on how you handle customer service may vary, and having external opinions will do no harm.
A thing not to do is conduct just one single training session covering all there is to know; it will overwhelm your employees with data all at once! It is, in fact, ongoing training that can make a difference in the growth of your employees. When you implement an ongoing training program, you directly increase their productivity, update them on new policies or industry regulations, provide them with a refresher of their soft skills, and improve job satisfaction.
There are so many things that can be taught regularly, from the level of interaction with customers to technology items to start using. However, also do consider the form you’re delivering the training. Remember to include gamifying as an option every once in a while, to make it less formal and more fun!
One thing you should also add to your wait staff training checklist is providing incentives. To keep their motivation flowing and their productivity as well, you could offer them specific rewards for their performance. You can offer everything from their favorite parking spots, free meals, or raises. This way, you will create a fun working environment, with something they can look forward to and at the same time, you will show them that they’re being valued. Employee incentive programs have always proved successful, and they directly impact on increasing the performance of any business.
Create a server handbook
Writing an employee handbook will facilitate your staff’s behavior and daily tasks. It will let them know how the restaurant operates and what are the principles to refer to when needing it. This handbook will be their ‘go to’ every time there is an issue to be solved with customers or within the staff, or when they are in doubt of internal policies. So it will save you from constant questions, and it will be a guide for your employees to learn how to adapt to your restaurant’s culture gradually.
There are many specifics on how to train waiters and waitresses, but sometimes they also vary on the restaurant’s features. However, setting the ground for transparent communication should be added in every aspect of the training, and hopefully, these tips can help you in doing just that!