Customers go into a restaurant expecting that their waiter or bartender will be familiar with the menu. They want to be able to ask “is the curry spicy?” or “are your fish and chips any good?” and receive a knowledgeable response. Too often, the server will simply answer sheepishly; “I’m not really sure, I haven’t had it before”, or worse, pretend to have tried the dish when they actually have not, giving a less than accurate reply. Management needs to ensure that their waitstaff knows the menu firsthand, inside and out. A clueless waitstaff is a sure turn off to customers.
How to Do It
One sure way to get your employees eating the restaurant’s food is to offer a free meal with their shift. However, there’s no guarantee that they won’t order the same dish every time. A better strategy is to ensure that each time a new menu item is introduced, the front of house staff are gathered together and given information on that dish and offered a chance to sample it. When a new employee is brought in, try to coordinate ways for that new hire to sample as much as possible. The finest restaurants train their waiters for days before letting them out on the floor solo, and have them sample and describe each menu item to guarantee that patrons will be given the most accurate information available.
You might think you are saving money with a “no food for staff” policy. The truth, however, is that you are only hurting your restaurant in the long run by having ignorant waiters. Your front of house staff are the face of the company. No matter how amazing your food may taste, a less than stellar dining experience will dissuade customers from returning. A well informed waiter is key. When customers believe that they are patronizing an establishment that trains and respects it’s employees, they will be more likely to return.
Challenge: Take a poll from your waiters to determine how much of your staff has first hand experience with the menu.
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