Restaurants devote a great deal of time and energy into perfecting their menus — and rightly so. But do you devote as much time and attention to training your employees on proper service? The service your staff provides can have just as much — if not more— impact on a patron’s decision to return to dine with you again.
Take concrete action to set your restaurant staff up for success, using these three strategies.
1. Set the bar high from the start.
Employees will be much more likely to be valuable members of your staff and successes at providing stellar customer service if expectations are clearly communicated during the hiring process. Explain to candidates the responsibilities that come with the job as well as how they are expected to fulfill them. Be clear on the way servers should communicate with customers, whether they will be required to upsell, and the standard for appearance they must meet. Determine whether candidates can meet these expectations and base hiring decisions on whether they will be valuable members of your restaurant staff.
2. Clarify goals.
Once you extend a job offer to a new employee, approach training in an organized manner. Create a detailed list that runs the gamut, from menu knowledge, setting tables, navigating the floor, opening and closing, timekeeping, order management, greeting customers, and cleaning. Systematically train employees, covering all areas, to ensure consistent performance. And make sure training includes an emphasis that customer service takes priority over other tasks employees are assigned.
3. Train, train, and train some more.
Restaurant staff will require different types of training to succeed in most restaurant environments. Additionally, the more training your staff members receive when they are hired and throughout their employment, the better.
Start by assigning new servers to shadow experienced ones. Shadowing lets new hires truly learn the ropes and to gradually become accustomed to their responsibilities while gaining confidence and finding out how to manage challenges.
Another effective training method is role playing, with trainers acting as diners for new employees to serve. Take new restaurant staff through several scenarios, such as order-taking, providing refills, and settling the check. Don’t forget to throw in a few unusual circumstances to see how your employees think on their feet. Role playing is very valuable because it helps to identify and eliminate bad habits at the outset and identify any areas that need improvement.
The next phase of training involves turning the tables: Instead of allowing new staff members to shadow you, shadow them. This allows you to assess how well they handle their responsibilities, making any necessary corrections. Before allowing them to fly solo, make sure they know the menu inside and out.
At a time when competition is at its highest level, restaurant operators can’t afford to leave the success of their businesses to chance. Clarifying expectations for excellent service from the beginning of a staff member’s employment, setting goals, and engaging in careful training is the best way to position your restaurant to provide the level of service that guests will want to return for.