Improve Waitstaff Training to Grow Restaurant Profits

improve waitstaff trainingProviding good customer service is essential to running any profitable business, and the restaurant industry is no exception.  A study done by found that 81% of people are more likely to work with a business again after good service.  The study also notes that negative interactions spread to two times as many people as positive interactions.  Successful restaurant management is essential to providing quality customer service and therefore driving high sales.

One of the most important duties of restaurant managers is waitstaff training.  Your servers are the face of your restaurant to customers, and the impression they make will determine your clientele’s opinion of your restaurant and the likelihood they will come back.  Therefore, you need a good training program for your waitstaff to make them successful, and in turn drive higher profits to your establishment.  Here are some tips to help improve your restaurant’s waitstaff training:

1)  When recruiting, focus on personality and willingness

Specific skills such as learning the POS system and service can be taught to new servers, but it’s much harder to change their personality.  To improve your waitstaff training and satisfy your customers, hire servers whose personalities reflect the atmosphere you want at your restaurant.  Also, look for ambition, a hard work ethic and a desire to grow with your business, which will reduce your staff’s turnover.

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2)  Organize your priorities

To improve your waitstaff training, make a list of everything they need to be taught, and make sure everything is in order.   Start with the basics, showing them the restaurant’s floor plan and how you like the tables to be set up.  Then move on to tasks such as how to serve drinks and ring up orders. You should pay close attention to customers and servers on a day to day basis to identify common issues that occur so you can focus on these things the most when training your waitstaff.

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3)  Make the menu front and center

Encourage new servers to begin studying your menu immediately after they are hired.  To improve your waitstaff training, make sure they not only know the menu, but also can describe your dishes in a way that is likely to sell to more customers.  Quiz them on some of the most popular items on the menu.  A great way to see how well they will do with customers is to role play, pretending you are the customer.  Afterwards you can critique what they need to improve on, and praise them for what they excelled at.  This will increase their confidence for when they are in front of customers.

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4)  Have them shadow and be shadowed

Having new servers shadow your current staff during training helps not only the newcomer, but also the experienced server.  The new server gets to see exactly what they will be dealing with on a day to day basis.  For the more experience server, showing another server how the job is done reinforces the importance of all those small things involved in their job that over time can fall by the wayside.   After the new server begins to get the hang of things, improve your waitstaff training by having the experienced server turn the reins over to the new server while they supervise them.  Encourage the more experienced server to jump in if the new server doesn’t know or forgets something, and answer any questions the new server has along the way.

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Of course, one of the most important parts of successful restaurant management that will help you improve your waitstaff training is to make training ongoing.  Hold regular meetings to address any areas your waitstaff needs to work on, and encourage them to keep up the good work in the areas they are performing well at.  This will help keep your staff energized and customers happy.

Author: Jessica Cody

Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.

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