Training Great Waitstaff: 6 Top Tips

By July 19, 2016For Companies

Anyone working in hospitality can agree: it’s a busy, bustling industry, where certain shifts demand constant movement and awareness and offer no room for idleness. So when it comes to bringing in new staff, you’ve got to be just as efficient in training them. Of course, with the reputation of your restaurant resting largely on the shoulders of waiters and waitresses, it’s important not just to bring them up to speed quickly, but also to ensure that they are set to deliver top-quality service. Follow these top tips and tricks in order to start training great waitstaff.

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Training Great Waitstaff

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1. Plan your Training Program

Create a checklist of everything that you need to cover with your new trainee, from menu knowledge and floor plan to how to ring up orders and closing duties. This will ensure that you don’t miss any important details. Ideally, create a timing plan and schedule so that you know how long each aspect of the training will take.

Having standardised training will make the process more efficient, as you can run through the same crucial aspects for every new staff member that you take on. Consistency also ensures that everyone is working to the same high standards and that the whole team is on the same page.

2. Menu Training

Menu knowledge is arguably the most important aspect of the training program. After all, nothing screams new and/or inexperienced more than waitstaff who cannot correctly identify items on the menu or describe it to the customer. Patrons expect to be confident in their servers, so make sure not to let your restaurant down by leaving your waitstaff with gaps of knowledge.

training great waitstaff

3. Use Roleplays

Once you’ve taken your trainee through the most important ‘How to’s’, a good way of testing whether they’ve retained this information is through a roleplay. You can take the role of the customer, and they can go through the entire process of greeting you, taking your order, dealing with any potential issues, and giving you the bill. You might choose to cover some more difficult situations like handling complaints to ensure that they are fully prepared.

While you won’t be able to cover every problematic scenario, a roleplay will help your trainee understand the style and approach that they should adopt when dealing with certain issues.

4. Be Proactive, not Reactive

If a customer’s glass is looking empty, offer to give them a refill before they have to ask. Check a table to make sure all the condiments are there and if not, bring the staples before they are requested. If a customer walks in with coats and shopping bags, offer to take these to the cloak room. These are the examples of the kinds of proactive behaviour that should be encouraged in waitstaff.

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5. Encourage a Personal Touch

It’s important to give patrons a personalised and memorable experience at a restaurant, so encourage your waitstaff to be attentive to an individual party’s needs. To get a better understanding of a customer’s needs and therefore deliver a better service, they could ask questions such as:

  • For morning/lunch services: “Are you in a rush to get to work?”
  • For evening services: “Is this a special occasion?”, “Are you celebrating anything tonight?”
  • In general: “Would you like your food served altogether?”

Acknowledging these details can help patrons feel more welcome and at home. When training great waitstaff, encourage them to go above and beyond what might typically be expected at a restaurant.

6. Give Constructive Feedback

A trainee doesn’t transform into a great waiter or waitress overnight. The initial training might have finished, but you can continue to guide and support them along the way. A large part of this process is giving constructive feedback so that they may work on their strengths and improve their weaknesses. Over time, your waitstaff will become comfortable and confident in their surroundings.

Good luck with your trainees! We’re interested learning more tips for training great waitstaff, so if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below.


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training great waitstaff