Now that you’ve hired the right waitstaff on paper and who interviewed well, what’s next?
It’s time to start with training!
Some chef staffing agencies such as Anytime Chefs can also help fill up vacancies for waitstaff for urgent needs. But if you need to strengthen your team and have the time, you need to develop and implement a knockout training program.
As with all industries, proper training of new hires is critical to avoid errors and ensure they are confident in their new role.
Realistically, many rely on seat-of-the-pants-style training for their new employees – such as having one of the senior or experienced servers teach the new hire what is considered your business’s best practices. While shadowing and mentoring are parts of a good training program, having those two strategies alone may lead to the new hire adapting what the mentor is doing, including bad habits and shortcuts. There has to be a system in place to have everyone adopt consistent and uniform practices.
Here are important points when you create or review your server and waitstaff training program:
Establish Training Goals
At the start of any training program, expectations must be known to both you and the new hire.
Set a schedule dedicated to training, typically one or two weeks, so that you can gauge how fast or how slow a trainee learns. The rate of learning and skill development that a trainee shows is just one of the variables you should consider in keeping them or letting them go.
Included in this goal-setting is creating small, realistic goals that the trainee should meet along the way. Breaking down expectations into small achievable goals can help boost the trainee’s morale.
A Server Training Manual
A Server Training Manual is a resource for your staff, both new hires and established ones. It should contain information that addresses the type of service you want to provide to your guests—the more customised, the better.
- Understanding the Menu – Servers are often the front liners of your business. Any questions about the establishment, especially the menu, are usually addressed to them. Ensure that new hires understand the menu contents from front to back, including pronunciations and ingredients. Even some of the most descriptive menu still require clarification. It is vital that servers can explain it in detail.
- Decorum Guidelines – The type of restaurant you run typically dictates the etiquette that is expected from servers. For example, diners have a casual atmosphere while fine dining has a formality specific to their service. However, it is fundamental for all servers to exhibit courteousness, humility and patience.
- Server Uniforms – Includes dress code requirements concerning uniform, hairstyle, jewellery, fingernails and overall hygiene. Ensure that this expectation is clear since most employees eventually desire to personalise their look.
- Scripts – Include welcome scripts and how they introduce themselves. Ensure that your servers can mention specific information about new offerings beyond short pleasantries or about a particular marketing event for your establishment. If you are not lucky to have hired rockstar waiters with superb conversational skills, understand that the suitable script and training can help in boosting the confidence of those who are not.
- Taking orders – Apart from saying the right words, taking orders requires a good ear. Ensure that handwriting is legible and easy to understand when handwriting orders until they can memorise orders before punching them in the Point of Sale system (POS). Have standardised and appropriate abbreviations that the kitchen understands. Have a process of tracking order or billing errors.
- Use of the POS System – As straightforward as can be.
- Upselling technique – Many people think that they have no skills in sales, but selling is something that can be learned. Include in the scripts some opening lines to introduce or identify upselling opportunities. Most people do not want to be pressured to do something; therefore, servers must have a certain finesse in encouraging guest to order desserts or appetisers. Upselling is potential profit, and to have better success at it is to know the menu like the back of your hand. Empower your servers by letting them know that upselling is a great way to educate guests and broaden their options. This is helpful because most guests trust servers who project knowledge of the menu.
- Health and Safety Policies – Restaurants can be full of hazards, and you have to ensure that your guest and staff are safe. List down all protective measures that the team can follow for everyone’s safety. Include emergency procedures and fire exit routes.
- Close-Out Procedures – Includes activities that servers should do before the end of their shift. This includes closing out of the POS system and turnover of cash to the manager.
Hold a Menu Tasting
Part of familiarising the menu is to know how each dish tastes. This helps the server make the proper recommendations and answer questions about the dish. Include allergen information and the most commonly asked menu questions.
Orient your new hire with the restaurant layout
Servers should familiarise themselves with the dining room’s layout to know which table is located and correctly serve the food. Identify critical routes to the vital parts of the establishment. Everyone has to see any bottleneck structures or critical traffic flows to be aware of their surroundings, especially during busy hours. Make sure that they identify blind spots which can be dangerous when carrying tray loads of food. Familiarise them with stockrooms as well.
Conduct knowledge and skill assessment
Testing your servers’ knowledge and practical skills is essential to identify their capability to work independently and if their performance is up to your expectations.
Testing can both be written, where memorisation of extensive information is necessary or it can be practical such as in roleplaying. When testing, make sure to include not just expected outcomes but problem scenarios as well. Not only will this show how prepared they are for such results, but it will also reflect their ability to think on their feet.
Ensure employee engagement through performance incentives to motivate and create a fun working environment.
By creating and following a detailed server and waitstaff training program, you can establish the workplace culture and set your new employees up for success.
If you are based in Perth or Western Australia, Anytime Chefs can also help you with your waitstaff needs. If you need assistance in your upcoming events, give us a call and let us remove the stress of finding the proper help so you can focus on your more important work – making your business or event successful!!!
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,