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How to Hire Restaurant Waitstaff

Learn how to hire restaurant waitstaff from restaurateur Paul Bolles-Beaven in this Howcast video.


Wait staff or service staff for your restaurant are very important to select properly and you're going to need a bunch of them. Unfortunately, turnover is a part of our business and it's especially true at that hourly level position.

So you want to do a great job of selecting and here is one place, and it's true in all hiring, where hiring hard makes it possible to manage easy. And hiring easy means you'll be managing hard.

You need to look for people who not only have the skills that are required to provide the level of service and quality of service and hospitality that your restaurant requires, but also people who can work together with different types of people, under stressful situations, and do it consistently day-in and day-out.

It is true that often times people become servers to pay the bills while they figure out what they want to do with their life, or to support their interest in another avocation that they're pursuing. It's certainly the way I started as a waiter in the restaurant business.

And that's okay, as long as when they come to work, they're committed to excellence and to being a part of the team, and being a dependable part of the team.

Now it may mean that when they get that great show and that great role that they've been hoping for, that you lose them as a member of your staff. But they can be a great part of your team and a great part of the excellence that's delivered to the guests in terms, of the experience.

Servers can be found through many different hiring websites, through advertisements in newspapers and on the web. They also can be found, quite frequently, through word-of-mouth.

It's important that the word on the street be that you're fair, and a good person to work for; that your restaurant is a good place to work. In this way, people will share "Hey, I work at this restaurant. It's a great place to work. I'm having a good time. I'm making good income. They take good care of me." Then top quality service people will want to come work in your restaurant.

It's also true that good reviews don't hurt. When someone moves to town and they are a server and looking for a position, they look for the places that are getting good press and good reviews because then they know they'll be part of a successful and vibrant restaurant.

When you are picking people to be on your staff, remember that if everyone were the same, you'd end up with a bad team. You need some servers who are really good at all of the details and all of the tasks. And you need some servers who are really good at being warm and friendly and chatting up the guests; creating a great feeling of a party.

If you have all one, or all the other, you're not going to have a good team. Different members of your team will have different strengths and weaknesses. What's important is that you create a whole that fits the feeling and spirit and level of excellence that you want to achieve in your restaurant.

So when you're hiring wait staff, it's very important to do an interview, check references, and it's also an important step to trail the person.

Trailing someone for a position essentially means that you've hired them and you are paying them, but they may not be a full member of the staff at this time; it's during their training period.

During that training period, they should work with someone who is a senior and experienced member of your service staff. They should learn the ropes, see how things are done, understand the different steps that need to be taken in the dining room. And then, they should begin to do them themselves under the close supervision of the full member of the staff.

It is necessary for them to understand that, any time during that training period, you may not feel that they actually have the skill that's required for that position. You may not know that from the interview or from their resume; you may need to see them in action to know if they can do the job.

Trailing is the last step, and a vital step, in preparing someone to be successful as a member of your service staff.

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