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How to Train a Server

How to Train a Server

Picture of Nikol Moen
Nikol Moen

Your frontline staff has the opportunity to make a lasting impression on guests. Which is why making sure your servers are properly trained can boost customer satisfaction and  loyalty. Learn how to quickly and effectively create an impactful server training program.

When it comes to the restaurant industry, the quality of service can make or break a dining experience. Imagine going to a restaurant and being treated like a ghost. No one provides an enthusiastic greeting when you walk through the door. Your server barely makes eye contact with you. And you’re never asked about your dietary restrictions when placing an order. With a dining experience like this, you’re bound to feel invisible — and likely never return to dine there again. 

Properly training your servers is not just a box to tick off; it’s a high-priority investment that enhances your restaurant’s performance, provides an enjoyable dining experience, and keeps customers coming back time and time again. Whether you have an extensive server training program or not, make this the year you invest in developing a modern server training program to create a consistent, 5-star dining experience for your guests. You can start by implementing the following best practices into your current server training program. Let’s begin!

Why you need server training for new hires

Before diving into the elements of a successful server training program, it’s important to consider why you should take the time to create an organized training methodology for your employees. Here are a few key reasons to invest the time and resources to develop a proper training program for your new and current servers. 

  1. Creates consistency in daily operations. A well-structured training program ensures that every server understands their role and responsibilities, leading to a consistent level of service. Whether you have one restaurant location or several, consistency is key to providing a reliable dining experience that customers can count on no matter where they decide to dine.
  2. Ensures brand compliance. Every restaurant has its unique brand identity and standards. Proper training ensures that all servers represent your brand accurately, from the way they greet guests to the specifics of menu descriptions and upselling techniques.
  3. Boosts efficiency and productivity. Trained servers are more confident and capable, which allows them to handle busy shifts more efficiently. This increased productivity can lead to shorter wait times and higher table turnover rates, ultimately boosting your restaurant’s revenue.
  4. Enhances customer satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals. Knowledgeable servers can better anticipate and fulfill customer needs, leading to higher satisfaction levels. Happy customers are more likely to return and recommend your restaurant to others.
  5. Reduces employee turnover. Labor turnover can be costly. A strong training program tends to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover rates. When employees feel competent and valued, they are more likely to stay with your restaurant longer, saving you the costs associated with hiring and training new staff.

How to create restaurant server training courses for your brand

Now that you understand why restaurant server training matters so much, next you’ll need to determine how to update or create server training for your brand. This step may sound overwhelming — after all, you have a million other things on your to-do list to keep operations up-and-running. However, creating an effective restaurant server training program doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy. In fact, there are AI-powered restaurant training platforms that make it easy to develop custom server training courses that adhere to your brand standards. Old-fashioned printed training manuals are cumbersome to keep up with and are rarely used correctly during the new hire training period, especially if you’re a multi-location restaurant. Here are a few ways a digital training platform can save you time and resources in the long-run:

  • Operational changes can be automatically updated. Changes in operations happen frequently — especially as you adopt new technologies for your restaurant. Instead of keeping up with the correct printed version of the training manual, a digital training platform can apply operational updates automatically for every role and every location.
  • Digital training empowers employee learning. A digital database of server courses and brand materials allows employees to look up answers to pressing questions, getting them information they need quickly while saving managers time.
  • Tracking progress provides coaching opportunities. With a digital training system, managers can easily see employee training progress and jump in when employees are not progressing quickly enough or not grasping key concepts.


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What to include in your restaurant server training program

When it comes to creating an effective and comprehensive training program for your servers, you’ll want to include the following courses and modules:


In your orientation course, you’ll want to introduce new hires to your restaurant’s culture, values, and mission. Share your backstory to provide context around how your restaurant came into existence. List your values and what you stand for, so servers understand the “why” behind the brand. 

In addition to your culture, values, and mission, share an overview of the menu and your restaurant’s unique features. Make sure new hires are familiar with the menu — though you can provide in-depth menu training in another course or module — and key in on any unique selling points of your restaurant.

Finally, make sure to cover any housekeeping items. Share practical details such as the uniform policy, scheduling procedures, and how to request time off.

Staff Shadowing

While digital training can be useful in many ways, you’ll still want to incorporate shoulder-to-shoulder training to provide hands-on learning to new servers. When new hires have the opportunity to observe experienced servers in action, they can ask questions on the fly and get great tips from your most seasoned staff members. Remind new servers to be active participants during the shadowing period. They should feel comfortable asking questions and actively engaging in the learning process. 

The great thing about incorporating in-person training into your digital training program is that you can track progress! When you include in-person learning into your new hire digital checklist, new hires and their trainers can sign off digitally that the learning was completed.

Menu Knowledge

One of the best ways to equip your new servers? Make sure they know your food and beverage menu inside and out! 

Menu training ensures servers understand the ingredients, preparation methods, and presentation of each dish. With a digital learning platform, you can incorporate auto-graded quizzes to test whether your new hire knows menu details. 

In addition to quizzes, you may want to host tasting sessions for your team. Allow servers to taste the dishes so they can accurately describe them to customers.

Customer Service Skills

Train servers on key interactions with guests. Cover greeting guests, delivering the menu, taking orders efficiently, delivering food and beverages, and handling special requests such as allergies and dietary restrictions. One effective training method to teach customer soft skills: role-play. Practice handling difficult customers, managing complaints, and other challenging situations.

Restaurant Technology Training

Technology has revolutionized restaurant operations and guest experience — especially in the past decade. Now more than ever your team needs to understand how to operate your restaurant technology. Here’s a short list of technologies you’ll need to teach to new servers:

  • Point-of-Sale (POS) System: Provide detailed instruction on using the restaurant’s POS system for order entry, billing, and payment processing. Ensure there is ample time for practice to ensure proficiency.
  • Training Platform: New hires will quickly learn how to use your training software as they ramp up. Make sure they’re informed on how to access ongoing learning after the new hire period ends.
  • Scheduling Software: Train servers on any additional technology tools used for scheduling and other tasks.
Two colleagues training at a restaurant on a tablet

Training beyond the new hire period

As you build your server training program, make sure to include ongoing learning opportunities for more experienced team members. Not only does offering specialized skill courses boost retention, but it also develops experts on your team who can train your next generation of servers. 

Ongoing learning can include refresher courses to reinforce key skills and update servers on new menu items or procedures. It can also include advanced skills courses such as upselling, wine service, and handling large parties. Including specialized courses in your server training program can set your team up for success and ensure they provide a consistently excellent dining experience for your customers.

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By now you know that effective training is the cornerstone of excellent service, satisfied customers, and a successful restaurant. However, the hardest part of starting a server training program is simply knowing where to begin. Investing in the right restaurant training software can help propel you forward and save you time. ExpandShare, a Restaurant365 company, can help you create a custom training program for every role, at every location. The Marketplace of included courseware allows you to quickly and easily add premade video courses to your learning tracks. Plus, you can quickly generate a course outline using AI to create a tailored course specific to your brand needs. Start exploring how training software can get your employees on the same page. 

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