Methods for Training Restaurant Employees


29 APRIL 2019



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Ever walk out of a restaurant, muttering about the wait staff and swearing you’ll never go back again? If you’re a restaurant owner, unsatisfied customers and bad word-of-mouth are business killers. Training employees to serve the customers well and to do it with a smile is vital for your continued success. Effective restaurant training is a must.

Start Training Early

Training restaurant employees should start before your business opens or ahead of a new employee starting work. You want all employees thoroughly trained before you make them the public face of your business. Training includes interactions with customers, knowledge of the menu (and potential allergens in the recipes) and familiarity with any tech your staff have to use. Many restaurant training methods exist, so decide which approaches work best for you and your crew.

  • Brief bursts of training slotted in around their regular schedules
  • Shadowing experienced employees to see how they deliver good service
  • Practice events where some of the staff work and the others play customers
  • Quizzes to drill employees on menu items, weekly specials and other data
  • Question-and-answer sessions. Even if you think you’ve explained everything clearly, your staff may not have it all straight yet. 
  • Digital, interactive e-learning systems. These can help if you have a mix of experienced servers and rookies, because such systems tailor the training to each employee’s level. 

Write Down Your Standards

Whatever method you use will work better if you know what you want from your crew. For example:

  • How fast do you want tables cleared?
  • If someone waits at the bar for a table, how should staff transfer the bar tab?
  • How should wait staff upsell customers on appetizers or desserts?
  • Are tattoos appropriate? Facial piercings? What hair styles are OK? 

Whatever you decide on, write it down. A good employee manual saves you having to explain the same point 20 times to 20 different staffers. It gives them confidence they’re doing the right thing. It also makes it easier for you to judge employees’ performance, as you have your metrics written down.

Don’t Stop Training

Even after your employees are proficient at their jobs, you may need to schedule regular training sessions. It’s not just about keeping their skills sharp: menus change, daily specials change and the layout or tone of your establishment may change too. Training keeps your employees current.

Pay Attention to Complaints and Mistakes

When customers complain about the staff, pay attention. If a server made a random mistake, that’s one thing; if it’s a sign the person needs more training, arrange it. Even good employees may need practice with uncommon situations to keep them at the top of their game.