Let’s Face it: you want to provide your customers with the best experiences possible, and you want your team to maximize your restaurant’s opportunities and sales. This takes consistent and effective training. It’s the foundation for any successful enterprise and the only way to prepare for victory.
Think of your favorite professional sports team. An effective and seasoned head coach and supporting staff work with each and every player to get the most out of their talents and their game. There are endless practice sessions and teamwork exercises to ensure that each player knows the game plan and the strategy to win. And, you know that every rival team they face are training for that little extra advantage also. There is a real fine line between triumph and loss which begins with preparation. This should be your approach to your restaurant operation.
It’s no secret that training takes time, discipline and most of all follow-through. You need a game plan, an attentive and willing staff and regular exercises that keep everyone on top of their game.
Let’s first begin with the all-important foundation of your service delivery – Train everyone to be a Student of your Restaurant! I often talk about the Power of Product Knowledge. Your staff need to know their menus hands down, including a description of each dish, the wine list, specialty cocktails, along with portion sizes, the nuances and flavor profiles of everything you Sell.
But that’s not all. Recognize that restaurant knowledge is equally important. What are all the unique things that set your restaurant apart? I call these “Hooks”. Making a list of all your special hooks and training your staff to educate, inform and entertain the customer makes all the difference between being a restaurant or being a true “brand”. Again, don’t be a restaurant… be a brand!
Know that everyone’s job from the host, busser, server and manager is to not just deliver food and drink, but an “event” – every table, every time. This is the only approach and effective incentive to bring those customers back again and give your restaurant positive reviews that set you apart from the competition.
So let’s get back to one very powerful exercise: Mock Role Playing. When was the last time you role played superior service practices with your staff? I recommend you do this at least once a week. You might take 30 minutes in a more formal session where you set tables and have your team take turns sitting and serving, or a quick 10 minutes before your doors open for business. In either case, make this your game plan and routine strategy for victory. Take turns greeting, suggesting & selling, anticipating needs and making every visit to your restaurant an event. And don’t forget the bus staff and hosts as they are both an integral part of the service team. Hosts are not just there to seat guests and bussers are not only to clear plates. Much like servers, everyone’s role is interact with guests, inquire of any needs and make recommendations guests will enjoy.