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How To Create A Restaurant Training Manual (Template Included)

January 16, 2024 9 min
Author
Director of Marketing at Eat App
Reviewed by
Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

A restaurant's success depends on its employees.

Well-performing employees can help take your restaurant from good to great, while their poor performance can cost you customers; which is why training them correctly is one of the most crucial factors for restaurant success.

Every restaurant has its way of doing things. It's important to train every employee properly, even the ones with years of experience, to ensure that all of them are on the same page about the workings of your restaurant.

The best way to make that happen is to create a restaurant training manual that will help standardize the training process throughout.

Key Takeaways

  • A restaurant training manual is important for onboarding new employees.

  • It should include policies, procedures, job descriptions, and training checklists.

  • Examples of sections to include are food safety, customer service, POS usage, and opening/closing procedures.

  • Regularly review and update the manual to ensure accuracy.

  • Hands-on training should complement the manual.

  • A comprehensive training manual can lead to more efficient training and better restaurant performance.

What is a restaurant training manual?

A restaurant training manual or an employee handbook is a guide that outlines the job role, rules, regulations, policies, and guidelines of your restaurant for your new hires and helps management train them in a standardized manner.

Every time a new staff member is hired, the management can take them through all the training steps as per the training manual, making sure no important information is missed.

It also gives employees something to look back on to reinforce their responsibilities and the restaurant's ethics and etiquette without having to storm their managers with a thousand questions every day.

Creating such an important document can be challenging, though: where do you start? To whom do you involve? Just the task of conducting basic research may be enough to make even the most motivated restaurant owner’s eyes droop.

Whether you’re making a restaurant training manual from scratch or simply trying to improve an existing one, here are a few guidelines you can follow.

Let’s start with the 9 basic steps.

Download our free restaurant training manual template

1. Title page & contents

Make a clean and professional guide for training restaurant staff by starting with a title page and a list of contents.

Title Page

The title page sets your restaurant staff training guide apart by showing your unique brand identity like your logo, restaurant name, and address.

Also, include your contact information so staff know where to ask questions.

Contents

A contents list makes it simpler for staff to find things in your guide. It's really helpful when staff need to remember specific stuff, saving them time and work.

Luckily, you can easily make a contents list in most text programs like Pages or Word.

Here’s an example contents list:

1. Introduction

2. Training Guide

3. Key Responsibilities

4. Technology Breakdown

5. Takeaways

Now, to showcase what your restaurant is all about and what you stand for. 

Table of content in your restaurant training manual

2. Write down your mission statement

The first page of your restaurant training manual is reserved for the mission statement. A lot of restaurateurs aren’t aware of how often servers get questions from guests about the restaurant’s values.

This is your chance to ensure your staff is sharing your mission with your customers.

If you don’t have a mission statement, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to achieve? Gain recognition for my service? Create an irresistible happy hour menu. It could be both.
  • Who is my customer base? Who exactly am I appealing to?
  • How am I going to fulfill my mission?

When you’ve identified the answers to these questions, you’ll know what you should communicate in your restaurant training manual.

3. Introduce your concept

You probably talked about your concept a lot during the hiring process. In fact, it should have guided you in selecting the right candidates.

For instance, if you own an Italian restaurant with a jazz music theme, you’ll want your servers to have some knowledge of jazz.

If your restaurant is popular for offering an expansive wine list to its guests, you’ll want your staff to be educated about various wines, particularly those on your list.

This section of the manual is where you can introduce your concept again and reinforce it.

Posts from the restaurant
community on Reddit

4. Provide your restaurant's history

When writing your restaurant training guide, don't just focus on the day-to-day tasks. Let your history (and culture) be the special ingredient that brings your team together.

Restaurant training manual expert quote Frame 2608398

Culture is the glue that holds your team together, and it starts with onboarding and training.

Jonathan Nelms, CEO of 7shifts

Here's how you can add your restaurant's history to your training manual:

Make the menu special: Share stories about where your best dishes come from or what inspired certain drinks. This makes the menu more interesting than just a list of choices.

Follow your values: Show in your history what's important to your restaurant. If you care about the community, talk about your charity work or local partnerships. If you focus on being eco-friendly, talk about how you're committed to using sustainable practices.

Make the team strong: Tell stories about past employees who did well, showing how there are chances to grow and be recognized at your restaurant.

Our history isn't just about the past – it's what our future is built on.

When you include it in the training guide, you're not just teaching skills, but creating a group that feels like they belong, have a purpose, and are proud.

5. Divide your manual into sections

Ideally, you will have a different manual for each position at your restaurant: servers, bartenders, cooking staff, managers, etc.

That, however, doesn't mean you will have to start each one from scratch. You can save time by including standard sections for all personnel and then adding specific instructions depending on the position.

If you have a restaurant operations manual, you can take most of these standard sections from there, including the mission statement and concept.

Examples of standard sections:

  • Expected behavior. Let new hires know what they can or can’t do when they are at work, what behavior is expected and rewarded, and what won’t be tolerated.

  • Dress code. Outline your expectations concerning hair, uniform, shoes, facial piercings, and clothing accessories.

  • Health and safety. In addition to food safety procedures, this section should convey how to best manage health-related situations, such as a customer choking on food, a colleague fainting, etc.

  • Food preparation. When servers can't answer questions about the dish ingredients, it's a letdown in hospitality. Servers should know about all menu items and even taste them during training.

  • Payroll. This part should detail everything related to work hours and payments, including PTO (Paid time off) and Worker’s Compensation.

  • Emergency procedures. In case of a natural disaster or any other emergency, employees should know what procedures to follow.

Examples of sections for a server's training handbook:

  • Customer service. Along with greeting customers with a smile, the customer service portion of the manual should include protocols for describing the menu, offering personal recommendations to guests, and upselling.

  • POS Usage. How should servers enter their sales for the shift and tip any food runners or bussers? How to record daily check averages? This part should include answers to such questions as well as links to any online resources that can help train employees without the need to use human resources.
See how Eat App brings together guest and sales data with the POS system integration.
  • Cash handling. It's important to include detailed instructions to prevent errors and losses. Cover aspects like counting cash, checking $50 and $100 bills, managing tips, and setting cash drawer limits. Don't hesitate to provide proper guidance.

  • Staff policies: This section can include several different policies: side-work duties (stocking the salad bar, cutting vegetables, etc.); tip pooling; day-to-day procedures, including those for opening and closing; customer policies for late arrivals or no-shows, table management, etc. 

6. Add checklists

With checklists you can break down a complex set of tasks into single actions, helping trainees learn faster. They’re also an excellent tool for completing several preliminary checks or reacting in critical situations.

Add a checklist to your restaurant training manual

Here is an example of a checklist for front-of-house personnel, detailing all the steps of the cycle of service.

You can expand this to cover a whole typical day, including post-service duties, opening, and closing, etc.

Before the shift

  • Check the cleanliness of your area
  • Check the cleanliness of the station
  • Check that all menus are clean
  • Check restrooms
  • Check that tableware is clean, and that glassware and dishware are not chipped
  • Check that tablecloths and napkins are clean
  • Study specials to be ready to answer customers’ questions
  • Discuss any issues with the manager

Welcoming guests

  • Greet guests with a smile
  • Introduce yourself with your first name
  • Take special care for elderly guests, guests with disabilities, children, expectant women, etc.
  • Stay within arm’s length of the customer as you’re escorting them to their table

Taking orders

  • Take orders starting from the drinks and suggestively sell an appetizer
  • Give menus to ladies first and then continue clockwise
  • When there are multiple guests at the table, take the order from left to right
  • If they seem to be in a hurry, suggest menu items that take less time to prepare
  • Let customers know if a dish they ordered requires more time
  • Repeat the order back to the customer
  • Ask guests who haven’t ordered appetizers whether they prefer to wait or receive the main course with the rest of the items

During service

  • Check back every 20 minutes to ensure everything is OK
  • Be alert for any signs of discomfort or dissatisfaction. Discuss with your manager if necessary
  • Clean the table for dessert from the guest's right side with the right hand, and then transfer it to the left hand.
  • Remove bread and butter, soiled dishes, cutleries, and condiments

7. Add training goals and a final review

Make sure you add clear goals at the beginning of each section, as that will make learning much more effective.

Examples of goals are: recounting the mission statement, knowing the ingredients of recipes by heart, or how tables are numbered. The manual should also include a final test covering all or most of the topics.

Add staff training goals and a final review

8. Include resources for cross-training

How many times have you experienced the only host call in sick and there’s no one to take his/her place?

If it’s becoming a more frequent occurrence at your restaurant, it can be very helpful to cross-train new employees so you can have them jump in where they’re needed.

Detailing the protocols of key positions in your restaurant will give personnel something to refer back to when they’re asked to temporarily work as a busser, host, or back-of-house employee.

9. Include a release to sign

Having new employees read the manual and sign a release stating they understand the training procedures is critical for ensuring they know its contents.

With this, you should also include a disclaimer to make personnel aware the manual is in no way a contract of employment. Give each new hire a copy of this page to retain as well, before letting them start in the kitchen or the front of the house.

Create Your Restaurant Training Manual With Our Free Template Download our easy-to-use template with step-by-step instructions to create  your own easily Download Now

5 tips to improve your restaurant training manual

Once you know the process of creating a restaurant training manual, start thinking about the ways you can make it more effective and increase its appeal.

After all, no one would be interested in reading a handbook that’s dry and boring.

Restaurant training manual

Here are a few things you can do.

  1. Name it something else. Show your lighter side by naming the manual something else like, “The Playbook” or “Our Best Secrets.” This will help create a comfortable learning experience for new employees.
  2. Include summaries and previews. Once the primary content of your training manual is ready, include chapter summaries and previews for the convenience of your employees.
  3. Relate to real-life situations. Where possible, cite real-life scenarios that new recruits can relate to in their day-to-day work. The point is not to make it feel like an outdated textbook. Including role-playing is also recommended. It requires a little more effort but can deliver tremendous results.
  4. Include visual aids. Relevant images are always helpful. For example, if the manual covers a software-based process (like how to insert data in your POS), you can capture and list screenshots of the required steps. Or you can use pictures to illustrate a tricky cleaning procedure.
  5. Don’t forget the Why. Instructions and prescriptions alone won’t go very far. Employees will be much more willing to do something if they understand why it’s important to do it and why it must be done that way.

Example of a restaurant training program

An employee handbook, however important, should be part of a wider program that includes theory and hands-on practice.

Here’s an example of a three-week program with day-by-day details for the first week, and additional goals for weeks two and three.

Training doesn’t end there, though. It’s an ongoing process that should include regular updates on menu items, procedures, and problem-solving.

Day 1

  • Tour of back and front of house
  • Lunch (menu sampling)
  • Station tour and observation
  • Study appetizer recipes
  • Employee handbook review

Day 2

  • On-the-job training shift
  • Lunch (menu sampling)
  • Study main course recipes (pt. 1)
  • Study food safety and hygiene procedures

Day 3

  • On-the-job training shift
  • Lunch (menu sampling)
  • Demonstration of food safety and hygiene procedures
  • Study main course recipes (pt. 2)

Day 4

  • On-the-job training shift
  • Lunch (menu sampling)
  • Study menu desserts and review the rest of the manual

Day 5

  • On-the-job training shift
  • Final test pt. 

1. Content of the test:

  • Dining room sections and table numbers
  • Mission statement
  • Table setting

Day 6

  • On-the-job training shift
  • Final test pt. 

2. Content of the test:

  • Food safety and hygiene practices
  • Recipe ingredients, preparation, and cooking times
  • Review with the manager

Goals for weeks 2 and 3:

  • Bridge training gaps
  • Recite the wine list and suggest wine pairings
  • Know meat cuts
  • Know possible ingredient substitutions
  • Cross-training
  • Dealing with particular situations such as:
    • An argument over the check
    • A customer who tries to leave without paying
    • A customer fainting
    • A sudden power outage
    • A customer spilled a full glass of wine over the table

Takeaways

Creating a restaurant training manual may seem like a daunting task at first, but it’s pretty easy to ace once you know what’s needed.

While it’s true that you will have to invest labor hours to write it, a poorly trained employee will probably cost you much more in the long run.

On the flip side, by spelling out how your restaurant functions internally and how personnel should conduct themselves, you can:

  • Provide a consistently high-quality dining experience, increase retention and referrals, and ultimately revenue
  • Create a safe, enjoyable, and productive work environment
  • Secure your business from legal disputes down the road
  • Reduce employee turnover

Want to get started with your employee training manual? Download our handy training manual template below.  Create Your Restaurant Training Manual With Our Free Template Download our easy-to-use template with step-by-step instructions to create  your own easily Download Now

Contents

Author

Director of Marketing at Eat App

For the past 7+ years Ryan has been focused on helping restaurants succeed with digital marketing and front-of-house operations. He is Director Marketing at Eat App.

Reviewed by

Nezar Kadhem

Nezar Kadhem

Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

He is a regular speaker and panelist at industry events, contributing on topics such as digital transformation in the hospitality industry, revenue channel optimization and dine-in experience.

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