Training a Waiter the Right Way: 5 Helpful Tips

Waiters and waitresses are one of a restaurant owner’s most important assets. Not only do they set the tone of the dining experience; they also serve as a restaurant’s sales staff - they make recommendations and inform customers of current specials. So it’s not hard to believe that service staff can make or break a restaurant. A restaurant with great food has no chance if its service is bad, while a mediocre restaurant with outstanding service can thrive.

Waiters have to learn an immense amount of rules, procedures, and menu items before they can provide the level of service their employer expects, so the training period is a crucial investment for a restaurant’s success.

Too many employers in the restaurant business go about this area with the wrong attitude, or even overlook certain aspects completely. Here are five tips that will shed some light on training servers in a positive, effective manner.

1. Make Your Restaurant’s Goals Clear

First and foremost, you should introduce your employee to your restaurant’s overall theme and attitude. Things like philosophy, workplace standards, and customer demographics are all great places to start. If applicable, tell them a brief history of the restaurant.

3. Ease Them In

Throwing your new waiter or waitress to the wolves in the hopes they will learn faster is just going to make things tough on everyone. Your employee will definitely not like it, customers may get annoyed, and you as a business owner will suffer as a result of both of these.
Instead, ease them in by making them a host for a bit - they can learn table numbers, meet customers, and it will ease their nerves on customer service.

3. Shadowing

If your new employee needs help getting used to waiting tables, have them “shadow” a more experienced employee for a while. This way they can see firsthand what it’s like dealing with customer demands. After a week or so, your employees can switch roles so that your new employee can take the wheel.

4. Avoid Overloading Information

Many restaurants begin by giving new employees a book of corporate rules, complete with lists of what not to do. This, added with dress-code, service, and task expectations becomes just a big memorization game for the employee. It also sets an impersonal, don’t-screw-this-up tone for your employee’s new job: not the best foot to start off on.
Consider a more hands-on approach to teaching your employee, like actually showing them the dress code, or how to phrase things in a way that will please customers.

5. Free Meals

Because your employee will have to be able to recommend his or her favorite dishes to customers, it is important they know your menu by more than just item names. Consider offering them free or discounted meals for a while, until they have tried everything. Ask them what they liked and did not like about each dish, or what stuck out in their head the most about a particular item.

By training your servers with an optimistic and hands-on approach, you can be sure you are on the same page when it comes to service. You will also start off on the right foot - to ensure a pleasant workplace experience for both you and your employees.


We at Pink Payroll offer a variety of payroll services to our clients throughout the 50 United States. We aim to provide an affordable yet personable payroll service to small and mid-sized businesses everywhere.

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