A thoroughly trained staff is a critical part of a profitable restaurant. A great server training program will yield staff that is confident, knowledgeable and competent, and who make diners feel welcome and comfortable.
Waitstaff who are unfamiliar with any part of their job can cause a trickle-down effect of issues. Too many mistakes lead to work slowdowns or problems that spread to other sections of the dining room, and that’s never a good thing for efficiency or customer service.
Is your staff up to par, or do they need more server training? Double check these items:
1. Knowledge of menu and weekly specials
Sometimes it’s important to eavesdrop on a server’s conversation with their tables. Can they answer questions about the menu and its dishes? Are they knowledgeable about how dishes are prepared and do they give an honest opinion when asked? Specials should always be conveyed promptly and all questions should be easily answered. If staff members struggle to remember, or they are unfamiliar with ingredients, more server training is needed.
2. The front-of-the-house shines
Front-of-the-house staff are the face of your restaurant, so they should always be neat, well-groomed and friendly. More server training is necessary if workers start showing up for work with a bad attitude or a disheveled appearance. Your front-of-the-house staff should also meet customers with a friendly greeting to set the stage for a great dining experience.
3. Your staff is upselling
Enticing people to try a side, dessert, or beverage takes some practice, but it’s a great skill to have. Check in with servers periodically to ensure they are consistently trying to upsell items that increase the average ticket. A little extra attention for each table may also translate into larger gratuities for good service.
4. Customers are leaving happy
After a meal at your restaurant, customers should be leaving satisfied with the food and service. Do your own spot checking by stopping to chat at tables randomly, or solicit feedback through surveys. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s social media and Yelp for any negative comments and address them with staff quickly, so the action that prompted the review doesn’t happen again.
Additional Procedures that May Need a Refresher Course
Also check employee performance in these areas to decide whether it’s time for a review of restaurant policies:
- Tables: Are items that are supposed to be sitting on the table (condiments, wine lists, etc.) placed appropriately? If parties are requesting more utensils right away or asking if the table can be wiped again, something is amiss.
- Floorplans: Your employees shouldn’t be bumping into each other while getting around. If this is an issue, review the proper traffic patterns before trays start crashing.
- Opening and closing: Monitor employees at the start and end of a shift to ensure opening and closing jobs are completed.
- Timekeeping: If the payroll is coming back with a lot of overtime or missing shifts, review the timekeeping functions in your point of sale (POS) system with your staff so they are clear on how to use them.
- Order management: Are orders being prepared correctly, or is your staff wasting time and ingredients remaking incorrect meals? If there are too many errors, you may need additional server training on the POS system.
- Cleaning: There’s no excuse for not completing cleaning tasks. If your restaurant doesn’t sparkle, review cleaning procedures and expectations with the staff.
A well-trained staff can keep your restaurant operating smoothly and can deliver consistent customers experiences that reflect well on your brand. It’s worth the time and effort to ensure each staff member is adequately trained and does their part to prepare and serve up the dining experiences your customers expect.