Training Read time: 13 minutes

How to train restaurant staff: 8 ways to build excellent service

Image of Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander
Published: Feb 07, 2024
Updated: May 03, 2024


How to train restaurant staff: 8 ways to build excellent service

In the fast-paced and demanding restaurant industry, having a well-trained and efficient staff is crucial for excellent customer service. A restaurant's success heavily relies on its staff members' performance. From taking orders and delivering food to providing exceptional customer service, restaurant staff play a significant role in creating a positive dining experience. 

This article explores the various techniques and strategies to train restaurant staff effectively, the training process, and ensuring they are equipped with the necessary skills to deliver top-notch service consistently.


What should you know about training restaurant staff

Training restaurant staff is a vital aspect of running a successful establishment. It involves teaching employees the essential skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to perform their job roles effectively. Through comprehensive training programmes and the continuous development of new employees, restaurant owners can ensure that their staff members can meet their customers' high expectations.

When training restaurant staff, there are various factors to consider. One such factor is the importance of consistent and standardised training across all job roles. Whether the restaurant training manual front-of-house staff, such as waiters and hosts, or the back-of-house staff, including chefs and kitchen assistants, each team member plays a crucial role in delivering a memorable dining experience.

Effective training programmes equip restaurant employees with the necessary skills and instil a sense of pride and professionalism in them. By investing time and effort into training, restaurant owners can create a positive work environment where staff members feel valued and motivated to excel.


Understanding the dynamics of restaurant service

Before diving into the techniques for training restaurant staff, it is crucial to understand the dynamics of restaurant service. Service involves much more than serving food and drinks in a restaurant setting. 

It encompasses various elements such as:

  • customer interaction
  • teamwork, upselling
  • complaint management
  • food safety
  • technology integration

A well-rounded training programme should cover all these aspects to prepare staff for any situation that may arise during their shift.


Aspect 1. Customer interaction

Customer interaction is a fundamental aspect of restaurant service. It is not merely about taking orders and delivering food; it is about creating a memorable dining experience for the customers. This involves greeting customers with a warm smile, engaging in friendly conversation, and ensuring their needs are met throughout their visit. A well-trained staff knows how to anticipate customer needs and provide exceptional service, going above and beyond to exceed expectations.


Aspect 2. Teamwork

Teamwork is another crucial element in restaurant service. A successful restaurant operates like a well-oiled machine, with each staff member playing a vital role in the overall dining experience. Everyone must work together seamlessly to ensure smooth service, from the host who greets and seats customers to the kitchen staff who prepares the meals. Effective communication, cooperation, and coordination are key to creating a harmonious team that can handle any situation.


Aspect 3. Upselling

Upselling is a skill that can significantly impact a restaurant's profitability. It involves suggesting additional items or upgrades to customers, increasing their overall spending. A well-trained staff can make persuasive recommendations without being pushy or intrusive. They understand the menu thoroughly and can highlight the most appealing options to entice customers to try something new or indulge in a premium dish or beverage.


Aspect 4. Complaint management

Complaint management is an inevitable part of the restaurant industry. No matter how excellent the service, there will always be instances where customers are dissatisfied or encounter issues. A well-prepared staff is trained to handle complaints professionally and efficiently. They listen attentively to the customer's concerns, offer appropriate solutions or compensation, and ensure that the customer leaves feeling heard and valued. This skill is crucial in maintaining customer loyalty and reputation.


Aspect 5. Food safety

Food safety is of utmost importance in any restaurant. A well-trained staff understands the importance of proper hygiene, handling, and food storage. They are knowledgeable about foodborne illnesses, cross-contamination prevention, and the correct temperatures for cooking and storing different types of food. Adhering to strict food safety protocols ensures that customers are served safe and delicious meals, free from any potential health risks.

8 effective techniques for training restaurant staff

Training restaurant staff is essential for ensuring a smooth operation and delivering exceptional customer service. While the provided techniques offer a solid foundation for restaurant training, there are additional strategies that can further enhance staff training and development.


1. Role-specific training programs

As mentioned, tailoring training programs to specific roles is crucial. However, it is also beneficial to the training plan to provide cross-training opportunities for staff members. This allows them to gain a broader understanding of the restaurant's operations and fosters a sense of versatility among the team.

For a restaurant employee, for example, waitstaff can benefit from learning basic kitchen skills, such as food preparation and plating techniques. Similarly, chefs and kitchen staff can benefit from understanding the front-of-house operations, better coordinating with waitstaff and providing a seamless dining experience.


2. Enhancing customer interaction skills

While building rapport and maintaining a friendly attitude are important, it is equally essential to equip staff members with the knowledge to handle various customer situations. This includes training on handling difficult customers, resolving conflicts, and managing special requests or dietary restrictions.

Additionally, staff members can benefit from learning about cultural etiquette and customs, enabling them to provide a more personalised experience to international guests. This attention to detail can leave a lasting impression and contribute to positive word-of-mouth recommendations.


3. Emphasising teamwork and collaboration

To foster a strong sense of teamwork, consider organising team-building activities outside the workplace. This could include group outings, team sports, or volunteering opportunities. These activities promote collaboration and create a positive and supportive work environment.

Furthermore, implementing a mentorship program for new hires within the restaurant can be highly beneficial. Pairing experienced staff members with newer employees allows for knowledge sharing, skill development, and a sense of guidance and support.


4. Incorporating upselling techniques

In addition to training staff on suggestive selling, educating them about the restaurant's menu through in-depth online training can be valuable. This includes information about each dish's ingredients, sourcing, and preparation methods.

By equipping staff with this knowledge, they can confidently answer customer questions and make personalised recommendations based on individual preferences. This level of expertise adds a touch of sophistication to the dining experience and builds trust between staff and customers.


5. Managing and resolving customer complaints

While training staff on active listening and problem-solving is crucial, empowering them to make decisions and resolve issues independently is equally important. This includes providing guidelines on when to escalate a complaint to a manager and when to offer appropriate compensation or solutions.

Regular role-playing exercises that simulate various customer complaint scenarios can help staff members develop conflict-resolution skills. This practice allows them to become more confident and effective in handling challenging situations.


6. Food safety and hygiene training

While the importance of food safety and hygiene is highlighted in the provided techniques, the significance of ongoing employee training and reinforcement in this area is worth mentioning.

Consider organising regular workshops or seminars conducted by food safety training experts to update staff on the latest industry standards and best practices. This continuous education ensures that staff members remain vigilant and knowledgeable about food safety, reducing the risk of contamination and maintaining a high level of cleanliness in the restaurant.


7. Integrating technology in service

As technology continues to shape the restaurant industry, keeping staff members updated with the latest advancements is crucial. In addition to training on existing technology, such as POS systems and online ordering platforms, it is important to provide ongoing education on emerging technologies.

For example, staff members can benefit from learning about contactless payment systems, self-ordering kiosks, or mobile ordering applications. By embracing these innovations, restaurants can streamline operations, improve efficiency, and cater to customers' evolving preferences.


8. Continuous feedback and performance assessment

Consider implementing a rewards and recognition program for new employees to complement regular feedback and performance assessments. This program can acknowledge staff members who consistently excel and go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service.

Furthermore, providing opportunities for staff members to attend industry conferences, workshops, or seminars can contribute to their professional growth. This exposure lets them stay informed about industry trends, gain new perspectives, and bring fresh ideas back to the restaurant.

Creating a comprehensive restaurant staff training program

Developing a comprehensive staff training program requires careful planning and consideration. It should include a detailed curriculum, training materials, practical exercises, and assessments. The restaurant training program should cater to different learning styles, ensuring staff members absorb and retain the information effectively. Regular training sessions, refresher courses, and ongoing development initiatives should be part of the program to keep staff members updated with evolving industry trends and best practices.

When it comes to designing a staff training program, one must take into account the specific needs and goals of the organisation. A thorough needs assessment should identify the areas where staff members require training and development. This could include technical skills, customer service training, leadership, or other relevant areas. The training program can be tailored to address these areas effectively by understanding the specific needs.

Closing thoughts

In the vibrant and ever-evolving restaurant industry, the success of any establishment significantly hinges on the calibre of its staff. The strategies outlined in this article illuminate the path to empowering restaurant staff with the skills and confidence needed to deliver unparalleled service that leaves a lasting impression on patrons.

Integrating innovative solutions like Lingio into your restaurant employee training regimen can dramatically transform the learning experience, making it more interactive, engaging, and effective. Lingio's platform is designed to address the unique challenges of busy employees, offering customisable training modules that cater to the diverse needs of your staff. By leveraging such advanced tools, restaurant owners and managers can elevate the standard of customer service and foster a culture of continuous learning and excellence. Embrace these training strategies and the capabilities of Lingio to ensure your restaurant staff are not just prepared but inspired to create memorable dining experiences that drive satisfaction and business growth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why is staff training important in the restaurant industry?

Staff training is of utmost importance in the restaurant industry for several reasons. Firstly, well-trained staff members ensure customers receive exceptional service, creating a positive dining experience. This leads to customer satisfaction and encourages them to become repeat customers and recommend the restaurant to others. Secondly, proper training equips staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle various situations, such as dealing with difficult customers or handling food safely. This ensures smooth operations and minimises the risk of accidents or incidents.


2. What are the key elements of a comprehensive staff training program?

A comprehensive staff training program encompasses various key elements to ensure the development and success of restaurant staff. Firstly, it should include thorough training on customer service, teaching staff how to interact with customers in a friendly, efficient, and professional manner.

Additionally, training should cover all aspects of food preparation and presentation, including proper handling of ingredients, cooking techniques, and plate presentation. Furthermore, staff should receive training on health and safety protocols to ensure a clean and hygienic environment. Training programs should also address teamwork and communication skills, as effective collaboration among staff members is crucial for smooth operations.


3. How can technology be integrated into restaurant service?

Technology has become integral to the restaurant industry, revolutionising how businesses operate and enhancing the dining experience. There are several ways in which technology can be effectively integrated into restaurant service.

Firstly, many restaurants now use online reservation systems, allowing customers to book tables conveniently and reducing the risk of overbooking or long waiting times. Additionally, self-ordering kiosks or mobile apps can be implemented, enabling customers to place their orders directly without needing a server. This not only increases efficiency but also reduces the chances of order errors.


4. What are the challenges in training restaurant staff?

Training restaurant staff involves navigating several key challenges. High turnover rates necessitate continuous training programs for rapid onboarding and ongoing staff development, while language barriers in diverse settings require innovative communication strategies like visual aids or multilingual training. Additionally, the fast-paced restaurant environment and the need for consistency across multiple locations call for structured, technology-enhanced training schedules and standardised materials to ensure uniform quality and efficiency.

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Image of Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander is the Head of Marketing at Lingio, an edtech company specializing in a Gamified Employee Training. With a passion for technology, aviation, and the limitless potential of generative AI, Fredrik brings a creative and innovative perspective to his work. His love for travel fuels his curiosity, making him a dynamic force in the world of digital marketing.

Table of contents

How to train restaurant staff: 8 ways to build excellent service

What should you know about training restaurant staff

Understanding the dynamics of restaurant service

8 effective techniques for training restaurant staff

Creating a comprehensive restaurant staff training program

Closing thoughts

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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