In today’s “customer service era,” customers more or less know by now who to blame when things don’t turn out the way it should be. When there’s a defective product that they have to return, they know it’s not the fault of the saleslady whom they bought it from—it’s the manufacturers. When their credit card bill arrives with incorrect figures, they realize it’s possibly a computer system failure. And when they eat at restaurants, they know who to blame when new servers mess up—you.
The modern diner now knows if a server is new, or when the server is an experienced one who just happened to bungle one of his everyday tasks. They’re now quick to realize that it’s not really the new server’s fault, but management’s for deploying them without proper training.
And here’s the thing: no matter how capable your new staff is, things can be mighty overwhelming for him (or her) once he sets out to start with his duties. Between memorizing your restaurants’ policies, the menu in its quality menu cover, learning how to talk to customers and the ins and outs of the trade, the job of a restaurant server can be very challenging. It’s not a job that’s just for anyone. And the worst that a restaurant manager can do both to his employees and customers is sending new servers out to fend for themselves without the proper stages of training.
Try and see if these proposed stages work for you:
A given. Always, always give an orientation after the interview and after hiring your new employees. Talk about your expectations, dress codes, conduct guidelines, policies on promotion. It’s best if you have a handbook that they can read at home and get acquainted with.
2. Hosting Job
By giving him (or her) the role of host or hostess first, you’ll be giving the new wait staff an opportunity to get to know the other employees and customers without the stress of manning tables, taking orders and delivering food. Hosting is an effective way to orient new servers about table numbers, table rotation and regulars.
3. Delivering Food
The next step could be delivering food to the customers. By now, the server is expected to have learned about the table numbers in your dining room and should know how to deliver food to the right tables. This would also allow them to get acquainted with the chefs, interact with the diners and know more about the menu.
4. Using Computers
This would work if your restaurant has a catering or to-go service. The computer is one of the more challenging tasks of being a server, and allowing your new employee to work with your cashier will help him learn step by step. He could start receiving phone calls and type to-go orders on the computer.
5. Shadowing Veteran Servers
Shadowing veteran servers for a week can give the newbie a clearer picture of how the job works. The veteran servers can answer questions and give tips. Within that week, allow the new server to start taking orders and serve the guests with a veteran server behind them to support. With this, your customers will still obtain the kind of service that they expect from your restaurant.
6. Trying Out Your Menu Items
It’s important for your employees to know exactly what they are selling to the customers, especially when they are asked about descriptions of the food items featured in your menu in elegant menu cover. They’ll be often asked for menu recommendations, too. So allow them free tastes of different menu items each night, with you or another supervisor keeping control of those that have been tasted and those that are yet to be tried.
And before you finally set them out on their own, give (or allow them to give you) a quick recap of everything that they learned—from the policies down to the food that they have tasted. This training method have been proven effective in many restaurants, trying to enhance restaurant management as well as watch over restaurant customer service—try and see what are those that you have already been practicing and those that you need to add to your current system. Remember—your customers now know who to blame.