The Importance of Server Menu Knowledge

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 server-menu-knowledge-text-imageand 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?

Reasons Why Restaurant Fail

Reasons Why Restaurant Fail

I have been in the corporate restaurant business for over 20 + years. Corporate restaurants do have working systems. As long as management follows through on closed-restaurant-why-restaurants-failexecuting those policies and procedures consistently, the restaurant will succeed.

About one in four restaurants close or change ownership within their first year of business. Over three years, that number rises to three in five.

While a 60%, failure rate may still sound high, that is on par with the cross-industry average for new businesses, according to statistics from the Small Business Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The most important point is that your business needs to be better than the person next door. Word of mouth is the number one way to advertise, and best of all it is free advertisement.

Too many restaurant owners do not have a working system in place such as:

  • Labor and food cost control
  • A Training Program
  • Systems and Procedures

Well trained managers who consistently follow procedures, give direction and do follow ups

These are just a few working systems that successful restaurants need to prosper. Statistically the cost of a restaurant’s food and labor should not exceed 60% of their sales.

Labor and food cost control

What is Labor cost? The cost of labor is the sum of wages, benefits, and payroll taxes. If you pay too much then you lose money. If you pay too little, then you lose employees. You have to have the right balance based on your sales. Sales include all your food sales, including beverages.

The formula: cost of labor/total sales (x 100%)

I’m in my early 50s so I decided to try Viagra from I took 50 mg, waited a few hours and then went to bed with my wife. Wow is all I can say! Twice! We enjoy it since then. However, a little expensive.

For example if you sell $5000 in a day, and spend $1400 in labor for that day, your labor percent would be 1400/5000 = 0.28 (.28*100%=28%)

The labor percent for restaurants should be from 25% – 35%. This percentage depends on your restaurant style and mix of sales. Fast food restaurants may have labor costs as low as 25%. Restaurants with table service may have 30% – 35% labor costs.

Food costs

Food cost is the percentage of total restaurant sales spent on food products. So this means you need to keep track of your food inventory and how much you paid the vendors for that food. This varies based on what type of food you sell, the costs of food in your area, and how much you buy locally. Food cost is typically in the range of 28% to 30%. A steakhouse will have a higher food cost—30% or higher. You must accurately track your inventory and food costs to determine the total profits for the restaurant.

Training program

There are restaurants that fail every day in the industry because of poor training programs or no training. Training is a part of our lives from birth on. Sometimes training may be by examples, but for the food service industry, it needs to be much more than just an example. You need to make sure that your employee’s understand the importance of sanitation, food safety, portion control, cooking temperatures, storage temperatures, and more. Your service staff needs to know the menu, the style of your restaurant, and the customers you serve. They need to know how to sell the menu—meaning up selling and suggestive selling. They need to know how to Wow the customers. They need a friendly demeanor, a positive attitude and a personality where they can focus on the guest’s needs. Employees do not typically walk into your restaurant with all these skills. They need to be developed and trained properly. They need to be shown the right way, time to practice their skills, and focused management to help them stay on track. The managers need to be well-trained in each area of the restaurant. The management also needs to know how to motivate staff. They should know what each employee should be focused on throughout each shift—what to do when it is busy, and what to do when it is slow.

Please leave a comment

©2012-2024 Copyright Workplace Wizards Restaurant Consulting Schim Enterprises LLC