How to Effectively Train Your Restaurant Serving Staff

Basic Training for Restaurant Serving Staff

Your serving staff interact more with your customers than anyone else. So, in order to ensure that customers return, it is essential that they be trained effectively.

serving staff

There is a very important step to take before basic training. It’s in the hiring.

Hire right

Before hiring, decide upon what you want in the employee:

  • Job description.
  • Job duties.
  • Personality traits of the ideal candidate.

As you are interviewing, decide how well each interviewee fits into these 3 points.Take special note of their social skills:

  • Know when to smile.
  • Cheery disposition.
  • Positive attitude.
  • Know how to say the things that make people feel good.

If someone looks like they may be good for the job, introduce them to some of the staff. The staff will give them a tour of the restaurant while you tag along. Take note of their personality, their smile & their body language.

The training in 7 steps

1. Overboarding

This should take at least two hours. The general manager should give them a tour of the restaurant and talk to them about:

  • General guidelines of the business,
  • The mission statement,
  • The core values of the business,
    • The core value section is possibly the most important part of the training.  These could be things such as
      • We serve only high quality food,
      • The server’s job is to enhance the customers’ experience,
      • We are exceptionally hospitable and
      • We honour people with disabilities

2. Organize & teach

Organize all of the points you wish to teach the server. Make sure nothing is left out. This probably includes

  • Knowing the menu,
  • Understanding important points of the wine list,
  • How to greet customers,
  • How to take orders,
  • How to present the check,
  • How to ring up orders with the POS system,
  • Floor plan knowledge,
  • How to handle complaints,
  • And anything else you want to teach them.

3. Customers with disabilities

serving staff

This is such an important demographic that it needs a special little section. According to Statistics Canada, 13.7% of the population has physical or mental disability the interferes with their daily lives. If these people come into your restaurant, they will usually bring friends or family. So, the demographic is significantly greater than 13.7%.

Often serving staff will not have a clue how to treat some of these people. If someone with a disability is not valued, they might just never come back. Their friends and family may also never come back.

An excellent way to train your serving staff is to buy the training manual called How to Serve Customers with Disabilities. This is a PDF file. Give a copy of the PDF file to each of your employees. (If they have a PDF copy as opposed to a print copy, they can go to any of the many hyperlinks for further information about the subject.)

Tell them that reading the manual is mandatory. After each chapter, they must take the online quiz.

serving staff
Learn more about this book.

If you want the e-book PDF file emailed to a Canadian email address:

$35 CAD


If you want the e-book emailed outside of Canada:

$27 USD

4. Shadow you

Have your trainee shadow your every move. After they watch you take the order, ask them to tell you

  • How you spoke to the customers,
  • What was your tone of voice,
  • What was your posture like,
  • What were your facial features like,
  • How did you present the specials,
  • Did you do any upselling,
  • Etc.

5. Serving staff ask questions

After they shadowed you, ask them questions about what they were supposed to learn. Ask about all of the above bullet points. Make sure they are comfortable answering all of the questions before putting them on their own.

6. Role play

They pretend to be a server while you pretend to be a customer. Then reverse the roles. Discuss what happened and what could be improved upon.

7. You shadow them

At this point they wait on real customers and you watch their every move. Be ready to jump in if the server does not meet your restaurant’s standards. After shadowing them discuss what they did well and how they could be improved.

Related pages

Fine dining etiquette for servers
How core values affect a restaurant’s culture
Guidelines for Training Restaurant Servers