How to Train Restaurant Employees

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Restaurant employees face one of the toughest jobs in the country: pleasing restaurant owners, managers and often very picky customers. If things don't go right at a table, the waiter is often penalized even if he had no fault. Likewise, busing tables can also be difficult. And a cashier is subject to performing many of the same jobs as a waiter would do, yet is often never tipped. Jobs in the kitchen are equally challenging. Training your employees correctly can lead to a more pleasant atmosphere, even when pressure mounts during lunch and dinner rushes.

Be clear and upfront about your expectations. You need to be succinct about what you expect as far as work ethic, promptness, neatness, attendance, job duties and hours and schedule needs. Putting everything out there at the beginning can weed out problem employees before their time—and yours—is wasted.

Prevention of problems is key to training restaurant employees.Train restaurant employees on the particulars of napkin folding (if that falls within their duties), table setup, how lemons are cut for the restaurant, and other facets that are particular to your restaurant alone. While restaurant employees are a mix of experienced and those just starting out, being specific on what is unique to the particular restaurant at hand will save headaches later on.

Set service rules. An employee should be trained on service rules from the start. The host needs to know how seating is assigned. The cook needs to know the timing for prepping appetizers and main courses. The waiter will need to know if a fee is charged to serve sauces at the table, if refills are offered for free, if the kitchen splits entrees, and if there are corkage fees for customers who bring their own bottles of wine.

Help the employees learn the menu by offering tastings. While provisions should be made for the vegetarian with no desire to taste the meat dishes, offering employees a taste of everything served—including a bit of wine and dessert—will go a long way towards getting the employees to recommend their favorite dishes to others.

Foster a positive environment in the restaurant by discouraging gossip and encouraging positive feedback to others. The manager needs to be willing to listen to employees who may have conflicts and to settle conflicts with win-win solutions.

Support the staff members as they begin their jobs. The customer is not always right in a restaurant. Some customers don't pay attention when ordering, and some just can't get off the cell phone long enough to verify that their companion has ordered for them correctly. It's important to monitor an employee, but also to stand by him when he has proven himself a strong worker at those times when conflicts with customers arise.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't micromanage restaurant employees. Working in a restaurant is one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

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