server recruitment

Why Server Recruitment, Training And Retention Strategies Don’t Work

There are plenty of server recruitment & training reports and articles that show national turnover rates for restaurant servers are as high as 70%.  They talk about how you should offer competitive compensation packages, build better employee engagement and invest in your staff.  These are great ideas that have one thing in common:  they don’t change the fact that restaurant servers have no pre-job training that is comprehensive in any way.

When recruiting for restaurant servers, even the best candidates had their training on a previous job, with these limitations:

  • Training is commonly 3-5 shifts, with no continued training afterward
  • Training checklists & training manuals are read once if they’re read at all and are seldom enforced
  • Restaurant server training programs most commonly consist of new hires shadowing another server, who also has had no further training beyond the 3-5 days of training they had when they started
  • Server training focuses on menu knowledge, greeting the guest, taking orders and order-systems


The ‘mechanics’ of restaurant service do not focus on sales, the guest experience, or

hospitality related language & communication.

There are little to no restaurant server recruitment & training activities or ideas that include personality identification to address better service.  There are no training activities or ideas using language to conduct a productive conversation designed to achieve a particular result, or that will enhance the restaurant’s sales or the guest’s experience.  In most cases, the trainer and trainee aren’t even in the same room together for more than half of the server training shift.  There’s no discussion around mindset or what a server’s goals are with each step of the guest experience.  They’re given the “steps of service”, and wind up going through those motions.

Is your language Guest Centric or Server Centric?

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

  • Responding to a “thank you” with “no problem”, rather than the more hospitable “you’re welcome”
  • Using phrases like, “how’s everything tasting?” have replaced “how is everything?”
  • Referring to their ‘tables’, rather than their “guests”

Most professions have come to recognize the importance of ongoing training.  Even the most successful professionals today have coaches themselves.  So, why do we continue to settle for less in the restaurant and hospitality industry?

When a restaurant server begins the job after their 3-5 days of training, they are at best a new employee with much to learn about your restaurant, and in some cases, about sales & service in general.  Once they’ve been on the job for 6 months or a year, they’ve simply been repeating that performance, most often with no additional coaching or ongoing training.

What Opportunities Do You Offer In Order To Recruit & Retain?

  • What skills are servers learning & adapting to increase sales for your restaurant, which of course would increase their own income (tips)?
  • What opportunities do your serving teams have to improve the service they’re giving to guests?
  • What opportunities are there for servers to continue to grow and become exceptional?

The answers to these questions are what you need to recruit and retain the team

of sales & service professionals that you and your restaurants deserve.

Gaining a reputation as a restaurant where the training is excellent, where servers make the most money and where they can grow their skills to become exceptional  – this will have recruits seeking you out, and the existing members of your serving teams stay with you for long & healthy periods of time.