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How to Prep Your Waitstaff for a New Restaurant Menu

October 01, 2020

Developing and unveiling a new menu requires considerable work. There’s new product to secure from your wholesale food and restaurant supply vendor as well as educating your staff on the changes. More restaurants are switching up their menus to increase sales, navigate COVID-19 industry changes, and stay on-trend. Training restaurant employees on your new menu is essential to make the transition smooth and profitable. 

Why Is Restaurant Server Training Important?

Servers are integral to a successful restaurant. Their demeanor and knowledge shapes the experience of every customer that walks through your doors. In the eyes of customers, servers are experts on all facets of service, including the menu. That’s why it is crucial to spend the time training restaurant employees on all aspects of your restaurant, especially when rolling out new menus. While it may seem cost-prohibitive to train staff every time a menu change takes place, having a knowledgeable workforce will help increase sales and foster customer loyalty. 

How Should You Train Your Staff On Your New Menu? 

Restaurant owners decide to switch up their menu for a multitude of reasons. Some restaurants that focus on seasonal cuisine will innovate their menu offerings frequently. Other restaurants have decided to pivot their menus for the first time to adapt to the effects of COVID-19. 

No matter what your reasons are for updating, there are tried-and-true ways to get your staff up to speed: 

  • Communicate the reasons behind the change. It’s necessary to let the front-of-house staff know your rationale behind your new menu. Are you adopting a new food industry trend, making changes based on exciting products from your wholesale produce supplier, or adding new vegan options to meet customer demand? Giving them the full details will help them answer customer questions more effectively.
  • Schedule an in-house staff tasting. Servers should be able to accurately answer any question they get about your new dishes. The most effective way for your team to understand a menu item’s intricacies is to try it out. Have the kitchen prepare all the latest offerings and invite the waitstaff for a tasting. It’s best to dedicate a specific time where the entire team can focus on the dishes. The start of a shift when everyone’s mind is preparing for service isn’t ideal for this kind of tasting. Invite the chefs to talk about flavor profiles, note any food allergens, and field any waitstaff questions.

Schedule a menu tasting with the waitstaff.

  • Go over the four Ps. Make sure your servers know the following about each new dish:
  1. Portion size
  2. Preparation
  3. Presentation
  4. Price. This includes how to answer questions about any price increases on previous menu items.
  • Don’t spring the change on the staff. Give staff ample time to learn about all the menu changes. Training restaurant employees on your new menu takes time. Don’t wait a day or two before the debut. A complete menu overhaul should be planned in advance, whereas seasonal changes might not have as much lead time. 

How Can You Guarantee Menu Retention During Your Restaurant Staff Training?

Telling the servers about the new menu is one thing, ensuring all the information sticks is another. You can help your staff members retain the intricacies of your new menu in a few fun ways:

Host an employee trivia night for the new menu.

  • Host an employee trivia game with questions all about the new menu. Give gift cards, extra paid days off, or other fun prizes.
  • Have a pop-up refresher at the start of every service with mini-rewards for the winners.
  • Tell a story about your new menu. Did your trip to Tuscany inspire your new menu? Sharing a story will help servers remember the menu items better, plus it aids them in creating an exceptional experience for the customer. 

Need Wholesale Restaurant Food Supplies For Your New Menu?

Are you looking for a wholesale food store and restaurant supplier to help save you money on your new menu? At Smart Foodservice, we carry choice meats, fresh produce, and dry-goods for all your menu revamp needs. We invite you to browse all of our fresh, high-quality products online.

What’s more? With Click&Carry, you can order all your products online, freeing you up to work on your menu unveiling. You can also take advantage of the wholesale food delivery services we offer through Instacart and Shipt. Have your new menu items delivered right to your door!

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