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Get it Right from the Start - How to Best Train New Servers
By Amanda DiSilvestro

No matter how outgoing, friendly, or experienced your new employee may be, you know that being a server is not a job for just anyone. Between learning what to say to customers, your restaurants specific policies, the menu and the computer system, being a server at a new restaurant is very challenging. After you think you have found the right person for the job comes the real test-training.

The worst thing a manager can do for both his/her employees and customers is send a new server out to fend for themselves. Customer service is the key to success, so it is important to take your time and get it right from the start. These six steps are a great way to ensure the success of your business through the proper training of new servers:

1. Orientation

Always hold an orientation soon after you have interviewed and hired new employees. An orientation allows you to control exactly what your new employees are learning in terms of your customer service expectations, dress code, or promotions. If you have a handbook, pass it out on this day so that new employees can go home and become familiar with your policies.

2. Host

By hosting first, your new server will get the opportunity to build relationships with the customers as well as other employees without all the stress of taking orders and delivering food. Hosting is a great way for your new employee to learn table numbers, regulars, and exactly how your table rotation works.

3. Deliver Food

Next, have your new server deliver food to the tables. By now he/she will hopefully have a sense of the table numbers and be able to deliver food to the correct tables. This also allows for him/her to interact with customers, get to know your chefs, and familiarize themselves with the menu.

4. Computer

If your restaurant has a to-go or catering service, this is a great way for your new employee to begin learning the computer. The computer is one of the most difficult aspects of being a new server. Have your employee work with an experienced cashier, and then begin taking phone calls and typing to-go orders into the computer.

5. Shadow

Shadowing a veteran server for about a week at your restaurant will give your newbie a real look at what it is like to be a server at your restaurant. Begin by having your new employee shadow your veteran, and then your veteran shadowing your new employee. Your veteran server will be there to answer any questions, give any tips, or help out during a rush. This will ensure that even though it may be those first couple days on the job, your customers will still get the experience they deserve.

6. Free Food

The first week or two of work consider giving your new employee free food each night. It is important that he/she knows what everything on the menu tastes like in case they are asked to give a recommendation or description. However be careful! Limit your new server to each dish only once by giving them a menu that you can initial after each meal; otherwise they may order the same thing each night!

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from online marketing to business credit cards for Resource Nation, an online resource providing tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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