They say, always be nice to people who bring your food! That’s as applicable for restaurant owners as it is for customers. When a new employee joins your restaurant as a waiting staff, you can’t just expect them to get to work and “get acquainted” with how your business functions on their own. Each employee deserves a proper orientation into the restaurant where they come to grips with how it is your restaurant functions, what your expectations of them are, and how they will be evaluated come judgment day! The best way to train your employees is always having a proper plan of action in place i.e. employee handbooks, job descriptions, preparedness testing and having a qualified trainer. If you think you’re ready to train the waiting staff on your own, save the hassle of hiring a trainer or promoting one from your staff and start the training yourself. Let’s look at some restaurant waiter training tips to help you do exactly that. After all, you wouldn’t want waiters in your restaurant spilling food and drinks, embarrassing you, and also costing you money in the process now would you?
Don’t forget, if you’re starting a new restaurant, you need to go through the comprehensive Checklist for starting a Food Business in India which requires you be up to date on compliances like FSSAI license.
The waiters at your restaurant should be job ready before they even hit the floor running. They should feel confident to be able to give your guests a fine dining experience, otherwise what’s the use? Apart from the obvious customer satisfaction, having well trained waiting staff can help improve efficiency, lower your costs and help your restaurant make more money and help it flourish.
Restaurant Waiter Training Tips
Studies have revealed that 43% of restauranteurs don’t offer new hires a training manual or and over 52% don’t offer any kind of safety training. This is a big issue and could put obstacles in the path to providing a seamless customer dining experience and it could also sometimes end up costing money and reputation. So without any delays let’s jump into what you can do to train your waiters and servers better.
- Adopt a Communication Plan
A system of transparent and open communication between your staff members (staffers, bussers, hostesses, cooks) is pivotal to running a smooth operation in the restaurant business. It’s analogous to the “buddy system” implemented for restaurants. Many times you might have noticed the staff in restaurants addressing each other as “buddy”. Its to ensure open communication and transparency along with incorporating accountability on each other.
- Develop an attitude of Service and Hospitality
In addition to good food quality, restaurants have the responsibility of delivering a pleasant and memorable dining experience. In order to do that, your waiting staff has to inculcate a sense of service and hospitability. They need to understand their customers suggest them food according to what they like and dislike, connect with them and help them have a great meal without any worries. How a customer is treated by the waiting staff impacts the customers experience the most. Make sure your waiters don’t end up just being ‘human vending machines’ and offer a great outlet to customers.
- Be frank with your Staff / Share your thought Process
This has been seen and reported by many industry experts that many times the waiting staff doesn’t care about the missions and objectives of your business model. Sometimes, the staff has an attitude of “us against them” with regards to the upper management. In such cases, any trick, any innovative training idea will fail and the staff won’t adhere to a single word you say. Managers are under a lot of stress and are often over-worked but if they relayed that stress and told the staff why it is that they have to do something a certain way, a human element of the manager relates with the staff highly and they might comply seeing how under the gun you are yourself.
- Responsible Alcohol Service
Of course, serving alcohol in compliance with appropriate Liquor Licenses at your restaurant is beneficial. However, your staff should be aware of the risks of serving alcohol to the population, help prevent endangerment of other guests, identify age violations by minors, detecting fake IDs, Criminal and Civil liabilities of doing things under the effect of alcohol eg. Driving is all part of a training routine all waiters handling alcohol should be aware of.
- Hire Staff with Restaurant Experience
It’s imperative that you need to implement a training program catered to your restaurants’ needs. However, you might have to invest lesser into the basic vocational training of the staff if they have previous experience in the foodservice industry. Deploying an “employee of the month” rewards program will also encourage a better, more competitive working environment.
- Welcome the Staff with Open Arms
It’s a simple formula- new Joinees and Trainees who feel wanted and welcome will do their best not to let their manager down. It is important to cater to the human and social side of your staff before you even pass any orders down on them. Day one- orientation is about getting to know people and learn new names and faces as much as it is about learning about the restaurant. For the first few days, you should make sure your waiting staff gets to know the people in the kitchen well enough.
- Emphasis on Details
The devil is in the details and as a restaurant owner, it is of paramount importance that the waiters understand this thoroughly. Something as minute and minuscule as a smudge on a plate or a disorganized table, or not enough sauce or condiments can turn a fine dining into a disaster. Once the customer notices something not up to the standards, they start questioning everything for eg. chef’s cleanliness and food preparation techniques.
Another way to reassure your customers is to display the FSSAI license you have acquired to make them feel satisfied, however, the waiting staff needs to understand that its the subtlest of things that make the biggest difference in the business.
- Treat All Guests Equally
Its safe to say that restaurant waiters first look at a table and wonder “How much tip can I get from here” and sometimes in their pre-conceived notions they might treat different people on the table differently. You should eliminate this as soon as possible. Tell the waiting staff to not to judge a table by its covers and give a hospitable and safe dining experience to everyone despite their assumptions.
- Avoid Micromanagement
In the first week or fortnight refrain from micromanagement of the staff as it might end up giving a stifling feeling to your new hires. Give out the basic outlines and objectives for the work for the day and review it again the next day if it is not up to the standards you expect. Learn to give a little trust to the employees to discover the restaurant and various departments on their own.
- Handling Customer Complaints Gracefully
What happens when a customer is almost ready to flip their table over with rage? They’re shouting loudly and are complaining. Will your staff be able to respond to the situation and calm it down? Will they with a straight face be able to help through customer’s complaints while still being firmly cool and still help resolve the issue? These are questions that can be asked of your waiting staff at any time. Run make-believe scenarios to be able to become better at handling aggrieved customers.
- Staff should believe in Core Restaurant Values
I’m sure as a restaurant owner you might be aware of the fact that over 60% of new restaurant businesses fail! A key part of that arises from the fact that many times, the staff are demotivated, do not believe in the core values of your business and hence end up costing you a lot more than just their salary. Either hire staff who shares the values or make the current staff understand the values so they can work towards that. This might turn out to be one those golden restaurant waiter training tips which change the face of your restaurant
- Upselling Skills
While sometimes there might be a notion that selling specials in a restaurant comes off as tacky or probably even pushy, there is no way customers always know what to get. In such cases, waiters who have been groomed well to upsell the specials will help in customer retention and ensure at least a few revisits. If done the right way, upselling can work wonders.
- Preshift Meetings
Almost every restaurant business holds pre-shift meetings. This doesn’t ensure that they are always beneficial or even effective at the very least. However, using the right pitch of motivation and task allocation these meetings could give your restaurant servers the boost they needed to represent your restaurant to the best of their abilities.
- Front-of-House Staff Training
Your front of the house staff are the real doors to your restaurant’s experience. Invest an ample amount of resources to help the staff offer a hospitable, comfortable environment for your guests. The staff should have ample skills to engage and comfort guests at the same time. Adds an aesthetic touch to your restaurant as well.
- Get them Familiar with most Common Mistakes
Well, often we tend to tell junior staff what to do and what needs to be accomplished and what the goals are. However, you should also take out some time to point to the staff the pitfalls, the common mistakes, the absolutely avoidable blunders which could end up hurting your restaurant’s reputation. It could be better yet that if god forbid someone makes a mistake, you are there pointing fingers and telling the rest of the staff not to repeat what they did.
- Help Recognize Regulars
Regular visitors to your restaurants are a source of incredible opportunity as they not only spend a considerable amount of money over the years, but they bring in new business as well. It becomes important thus, to teach the staff slowly but surely, how to identify regulars and treat them a little extra special.
- Prepare a Pocket Handbook
Sometimes the instructions you gave your staff are a bit too much to remember. In such cases, you should prepare a list of absolutely have to follow checklist for a quick reference. You can also give it a funky nickname like the Server’s Bible.
- Invest a good amount of time in training for order taking
Contrary to popular opinion, it is no easy task to wait tables. There are many considerations to be taken care of like how to carry the food, how to collect after finishing, how to approach the table, how to engage the customer. Invest resources into training your employees how to do the basics right as it sets the tone for professionalism as well as good customer care in eyes of the guests.
- Make Training Exciting
Has your training regimen become crass, tedious and monotonous? Try injecting a little fun into the routines by making games out of training exercises. This will not only engage your trainees but they will learn a lot in the process as well. Be creative and introduce fun little ways to get the concepts of hospitality and service through to your trainees.
- Role Playing
In any industry, let alone the food service and hospitality business, role-playing proves to be an effective technique to train new employees on the inner functioning of the business. Putting your servers in the shoes of a guest or any other senior staff and management, employees can better understand what is expected out of their role as a part of the waiting staff
Well, I hope this comprehensive guide for restaurant waiter training tips has provided you with some insights for as to how you will train the servers at your restaurant which will help you succeed.
As I said before, to start a restaurant, you need to obtain the statutory FSSAI license. Get your license from Fssai Food License by calling +91-8750008585 or you can fill up the form on the top right of this page.