Bad Servers Can Ruin a Perfect Event: Tips for Training Your Catering Staff

Your food might be fantastic, but if the service is lousy, no one will remember how great it tasted. That's why it is vital to train your servers properly.

So how can you ensure that your wait staff is ready for your next big event? Here are a few musts to consider when training your servers:

Don’t Skimp on Knowledge

Training new servers can be a real hassle; especially when dealing with a more experienced staff. Still, every catering company handles their jobs differently, and no matter how experienced your team, it is important that training be ongoing toe sure things are done properly –and your way.

Begin by having several in-house training classes each year where you review food handling and safety rules; customer service tips; complaint procedures; dress code; and more. You may also want to incorporate some online classes for your employees to ensure that they are constantly being reminded of the procedures necessary to handle food correctly and keep their customer service skills sharp!

Offer the Right Equipment

While it is important that your servers know how to handle the job; it is also vital that you provide them with the correct resources and equipment to do it. For instance, while you may offer food safety as part of their training, how can they be expected to keep foods at the proper temperature without the right equipment?

Every catering company should have pan carriers and heated cabinets to keep dishes hot before service. 

Review Serving Etiquette Often

No matter how good your staff, catering events can get hectic, causing even the best of us to get cranky (or at least not as friendly as we should be). One way to handle this problem is to review proper server etiquette regularly. This will help reinforce your expectations and help make proper serving techniques more instinctual for everyone on your staff. Some of the things to cover during etiquette sessions include:

  • Proper serving techniques (like pouring wine and champagne by holding the bottom of the bottle or always serving from the left)
  • Making eye contact with guests
  • Helping team members who are struggling
  • Always smiling
  • Never eating or chatting with fellow servers in front of guests
  • Keeping a professional attitude at all times

Assign Mentors to New Team Members

Teaming a new staffer with an experienced one is a wonderful way to make sure your newbies are trained correctly in every aspect of the job. Not only does working with an experienced staff member ensure that the new server will be shown how you prefer the job to be handled, but it can help to highlight weaknesses before they become problems. It also gives new team members someone to go to with questions and concerns.

Break Down All Tasks and List All Responsibilities

Never expect your servers to know what you want – make sure you are clear regarding responsibilities and expectations. One way to do this is to clearly list all responsibilities and break down tasks into manageable bites. This way everyone knows what you expect and have a list to refer to if they forget what’s needed next.

Review Performance Regularly & Offer Praise for a Job Well Done

Training should be an ongoing event in your catering business. Keep records of each staffer’s progress and be sure to review their performance regularly so that you can offer additional training and helps when needed.

In addition, offer plenty of praise for a job well done and encourage your employees with incentives like employee of the month honors; small gifts for exceptional performance; etc.

Your food shouldn’t be the only thing that stands out at your next event – so should your catering staff. Your guests deserve the experience of a lifetime. Whether you are catering a wedding or a birthday party, your staff should be ready to act, creating the kind of serving environment that people take notice of.