The Importance of Server Menu Knowledge
Servers are really your “salespeople.” They are in the customer’s eye during almost the entire visit. The server is the customer’s key person to learn about the menu, to express their needs and concerns, to order what they want, to receive their order and to pay for the order.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you walk into an appliance store looking for a new refrigerator. You are greeted by a friendly salesperson, but then when you start to ask him about the refrigerators, but he can’t help you because he doesn’t appear to know the products.
The expectation is that the sales person knows about the product they are selling. Servers are your restaurant’s salesperson.I’ve heard people say, “Anyone can be a server; it’s unskilled labor.” I disagree with that statement. The server needs to have a lot of skills and abilities.A great server must be good at handling multiple responsibilities at once. They have a good memory about the menu items and descriptions.
They are efficient and always thinking ahead. They understand the importance of keeping the restaurant clean and sanitary. They are able to make customer’s feel comfortable. They know how to communicate clearly. They have a pleasant demeanor, even under stressful situations. They are professional and polite while handling customer concerns and complaints.Let’s focus on the menu knowledge of the server. The server needs to have an understanding of the various menu items. It’s also important to know the key menu items.
They know the popular dishes, featured items, and signature menu items. The servers know menu items that may be customized. They are aware of common food allergens, and will respond to customer’s needs. They will never recommend an item that could contain allergens when a customer has expressed concern about that item.
They won’t argue with customers about the menu.Anytime food is left uneaten or barely touched on the plate the server will ask the guest casually about the food. They may ask, “Was the fried chicken cooked in the way you like it?” The customer who may have never said anything will usually respond as to whether they were full, or if the item was under-cooked, burnt, too spicy or bland. This way the server is responsive to the customer’s needs. If the customer was simply too full, and if your restaurant has carry out, the server may suggest a carryout box. If the issue is given, then the server should involve the manager, so the problem can be addressed before the customer leaves.No matter what, any issues that occur during the visit should be handled before the customer leaves the restaurant. An excellent server is always on the alert for any looks of dissatisfaction or negative body language from the customers.
They should be proactive on keeping the customer happy. These are the servers who have repeat customers, and who may actually ask for that server by name on the return visit.If the restaurant has a salad bar, hot food bar, or dessert bar, the server will be familiar with the foods. If the restaurant is buffet style, they will be clearing the table frequently. They will frequently be serving drinks.
Part of their responsibility may be checking for food items that are low. When the meal is buffet style, the entire buffet is your menu.
When they start the shift, they will ask the following questions. Is there is a chef’s recommendation for the day? Is there a special promotion going on? How much are “add-ons?”
Throughout the diner’s visit, the server should be suggesting drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts, and add-on items. If the drinks have free refills, the server won’t ask if the customer wants the refill during the meal time. The server should simply refill drinks when the glass is half-full. The customer shouldn’t have to ask for refills.
The server should suggest items for children or specialties that adults like. If serving specialty drinks or alcohol, the server will be familiar with those drinks and be able to make recommendations. Knowing the menu is a vital key in providing top quality service to each guest.
What are your thoughts on the importance of server menu knowledge?