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The Best Way to Train a New Employee in a Restaurant

Sep 10, 2008
One of the most important attributes a restaurant can have besides great food, atmosphere, wine and cocktail list , is a very highly attentive trained staff. This goes without saying so why is it so few restaurants get it right out there? With the exception of the grand opening when all new staff are hired and there is an outpouring of information on how the Food and Beverage Operation functions, relatively little thought is put into staff training afterwards.

In fact , most employers would rather look for someone who has all the experience necessary upon hiring so very little time and expense is needed. Yes that would be the most desirable situation but the seasoned veteran can often bring their baggage and bad habits with them that could prove to be a detriment to the employer and co-workers.

What in fact should happen is the employer take on the enthusiastic person who is willing to learn and fit in right away. This employee is more apt to stay on longer and show more dedication.

Now what I see going wrong at this time is the enthusiastic server is not given the proper attention in their first few shifts. Now I have worked in restaurants where the training took place over a few weeks and others where the training was here is your section let's see how you do.

Usually what the employer will do is stick the new person with one of the top waiters and have that person shadow them. This works well in the big restaurant chain where there is a number of employees to choose from. If it is a small family run restaurant look out because nowadays usually they are working at bare minimum staff levels which makes it hard for any waiter to train due to the fact they are running around themselves just trying to keep up. That's why very few waiters like to train simply because they do not get anything extra for it and because of the competitive nature of watering a lot of information is not passed on. The new employee is scared to ask questions so a stalemate can result.

Quickly the new keen employee turns a little timid and is second guessing himself. What is so great about working here they may ask.

My idea on how to train a new person in the restaurant or bar is very simple. As a manager I will work closely with whomever I pair the new employee up with during the service and monitor what is going on. I do this for two reasons. One is I check that the waiter I paired him up with is teaching correctly and the other is I am watching the new one and see how he handles the pressure. If neither of them like that it is too bad. After all who is going to get the stuff from the fan if the new employee doesn't work? I want them to hit the ground running and be ready as quick as possible.

As an owner or manager it is my responsibility that it works out. After all it is probably I that hired them. Too often the owner and manager will pass too much responsibility to the head waiter or bartender without so much as a follow-up until after service when the head waiter has to give his or her rendition of the song, another one bites the dust.

There should always be training provided to everyone on a regular basis. Going over concerns in the dining room from service , presentation , interaction with guests , new drink or menu items , special guests , reservation policy , and the list goes on and on. A simple pre-shift meeting each night before service can handle most of these concerns. Let me ask how many restaurants have you worked in where there was any pre-shift meeting to keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on?

In conclusion , training should never end but keep on going. With most restaurants training ends after 2 days and never returns. The great restaurants keep it going.
About the Author
His motivational speaking engagements are both funny and informative. Find out more about Steve Nicolle at his website which is at http://www.stevetalks.ca
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