Understand the Restaurant Menu
Before they step foot on the dining room floor, wait staff should understand the menu. They should know how to describe every single item on the menu. They should know what all the dishes look like and taste like. Offering a menu tasting every few months allows new staff to sample dishes and will better equip them to make suggestions to customers and answer any questions. It is also a good idea to offer a staff a tasting of new dinner specials. A bonus is that staff usually enjoys the free food.
Understand the Restaurant Bar
Just as you want your wait staff to be knowledgeable about your menu, you also want them to be well versed in your beverage selection. Even if wait staff don’t mix and cocktails, they should know what goes into common drinks, like martinis or cosmos. This way, they can upsell to second or top shelf liquors. Servers should also have full knowledge of the wine and beer menu, so that they can offer pairings with menu items. Your liquor/beer/wine sales rep can do a beverage training (not tasting) to help educate your staff about the subtle nuances in different types of alcoholic beverages. (Important to note, that your sales rep should never charge you for a beverage training for your staff.)
Know How to Handle Restaurant Problems
Along with understanding the basics of restaurant menus and restaurant bars, good restaurant staff know how to handle any problems that arise. They also know when they can’t handle a problem and call in the manager. The biggest problems most wait staff will encounter are unhappy customers. Maybe the customer’s dinner came out over-cooked, or it took too long. Even if the server thinks the customer is just being a pain-in-the-you-know-what, they should never ever show it. Know how to deal with unhappy customers is key to return business.
Another problem staff might encounter at one time or another are customers who have had too much to drink. Knowing how to safely serve alcohol as well as knowing how to handle drunk customers, can help restaurants and their staff avoid much serious problems.