How to Create a Killer Restaurant Training Manual

How to Create a Killer Restaurant Training Manual
February 6, 2020 Levi Olmstead

Employee training is one of the best investments you can make when opening a new restaurant

Restaurant staff training is where you set the stage for rules and regulations that your staff should uphold at your establishment. It’s the best time to provide employees with clear guidelines on how to maintain your brand image and ensuring all employees are on the same page.

While actual training sessions are imperative to onboarding your restaurant staff, it’s wise to create a restaurant staff training manual for employees to keep and refer to at any point while working at your establishment.

What is a Restaurant Staff Training Manual?

A restaurant staff training manual is a resource for new hires to refer to when learning the basic guidelines of working at your establishment from etiquette and safety policies to dress code and language.

Restaurant staff training manuals ease the process of on-boarding new employees for restaurants, stating all rules and guidelines staff members must follow in order to uphold restaurant policy. Training manuals help to decrease individual questions staff members have and prevent errors in dress code, procedures, and more. 

In short, they are one clear location where pretty much all staff questions can easily be identified and answered.

What to Include in a Restaurant Training Manual Handbook

A restaurant training manual should include everything you want new hires to know about your business. Some of the most popular topics to include are company background information and core values, company policies and procedures, and company-wide skills and role-specific skills. 

Section 1: Company Background and Core Values

It’s important your staff knows how your business came to be and what your core values are as an organization. Knowing more about the business background gives them insight on who your brand is and how they can help your brand uphold its core values and reach short-term and long-term goals. 

Consider the following sub-sections to include under company background in your handbook:

 – History of the business

Let your new employees get to know you better than they could by just Googling your name and brand. Share your story on how you started the business and any major events that impacted the restaurant. Sharing your background with new hires shows transparency and gives them insight into the team they’re joining – creating a more personal connection with employees right off the bat. 

 – Core values

Every brand has core values. In order to uphold these values, they should be implemented in every aspect of your business – including your employees. Every employee should be working with the same core values in mind in order to maintain your brand image and achieve business goals. 

 – Mission statement

A restaurant mission statement is a sentence or two that explains what your restaurant does and why you do it. This should be something specific to your brand image that reminds staffers regularly the vision they are helping your brand uphold.


 – Guest experience

Guest experience will be based off your your brand’s mission statement and core values. How should employees treat guests to uphold your brand image?

Some points to consider mentioning include: 

  • How to greet guests
  • How to talk to guests
  • How attentive to be to guests
  • How will guest special events be acknowledged by staff

Section 2: Company Policies

It’s important to put company policies in writing and ensuring all employees have a copy of those policies to refer to. This can help prevent employee mishaps and guarantee that all employees are on the same page as you. 

Consider the following sub-sections to include under company policies in your handbook:

 – Scheduling

Scheduling should inform employees how the manager schedules shifts, when employees will find out their schedules, how far in advance schedules are made, and shift lengths and break rules.

 – Time off requests

Time off requests are important to cover in your staff handbook, because it clarifies the regulations of requests for all employees and allows them to know how far in advance they should request time off. This can prevent understaffing in the future. 

 – Dress code

It’s likely you’ll cover dress code regulations during an orientation session. However, dress code can include a lot of regulations, so it’s a good idea to include it in the handbook to ensure all employees know what is appropriate. 

Different roles within the restaurant will have different dress codes, so be sure to clarify which dress code applies to which employees. Include any piercing, hair, nail, etc. regulations under the dress code section as well to prevent future confusion. 

 – Raises

Raises can be a topic employees feel uncomfortable asking, so including a section on the procedure to receive a raise gives a clear outline to employees on the steps to be taken on both ends and a timeline based on tenure.

Section 3: Essential Abilities and Skills for All Employees

There are certain skills all restaurant employees should have to ensure smooth-running business. 

Consider the following sub-sections to include under essential abilities and skills for all employees in your handbook:

 – The menu 

While every staff member will not deal directly with food service at your restaurant, it’s important for all employees to have a general idea of what is on the menu in case they are needed by a guest. 

 – Getting familiar with the POS system

The restaurant POS system is the one-stop-shop where all employees can access transactions and orders. Every employee should know how to use the POS system, even if they don’t need to directly work with it on a regular basis. 

 – Restaurant layout 

The restaurant floor plan layout is an important skill all employees need to know. Every staff member should be aware of the table layout and numbers in order to prevent seating and order mix ups. Ensuring all employees have this skill helps improve customer service, and, in turn, makes for better business.

Section 4: Specialized Skills for Individual Roles

While the above are universal skills all employee should acquire when starting at your restaurant, each role will have separate skills. Cover these skills so all new employees know exactly what skills to hone when starting. 

Consider what technical skills each of the below roles specifically will need and list them in your handbook:

  • Hosts
  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Cooks
  • Bussers
  • Food Runners
  • Dishwashers

6 Tips for Successfully Onboarding and Training New Staff Members

While creating a killer restaurant staff training manual is one of the best resources when on-boarding your new employees, there are many additional tactics that help quickly and thoroughly get employees ready for their first shift. 

1. Host an in-person orientation

Orientation sounds like it has to big a big, long, formal event – this is not the case. Hosting an orientation for new hires is a chance for you to get face time with your new employees and outline the manual, giving opportunity for any questions to be answered right there and then.


Additionally, it gives you and your new employees a chance to get to know one-another, which is important when building trust. They have to trust you’ll be a good employer, and you have to trust they’ll do a good job, so an orientation is beneficial for everyone! 

2. Use shadowing shifts

Shadowing shifts are when new hires shadow your best employees to learn from observation. They are best used for servers. Shadowing is a great way to show new hires what is expected of them during a shift. 

Be sure to speak with your current staff about shadow assignments so they know to prepare to act somewhat as a mentor. Schedule new hires on various shadowing shifts over various days and shift times so they can get an idea of what each shift is like.  

3. Use roleplay 

Roleplay can be used for any employee who will have direct customer interaction. Giving new hires the opportunity to practice their script with a real person on the receiving end is a great way to get rid of nerves and better prepare employees for their first shift. Plus, it does so without any negative backlash from real customers. 

Roleplay is also a great way for new hires to receive feedback and improve their skills prior to real customer contact.


4. Set goals throughout the on-boarding process

One of the best ways to efficiently on-board employees is to set goals throughout the training process for them to meet on a timeline. Setting deadlines and goals is a simple and organized way to keep new hires on a tight schedule and prepared for their first actual shift. 

It also offers an easy opportunity for you to track new hire progress and ensure they are ready for a shift. 

5. Hold a menu tasting

Holding a menu tasting is predominantly for servers. It’s a great opportunity for servers to try small bites of your menu items in order for them to give honest recommendations to customers. 

Additionally, holding a menu tasting offers a prime time to share allergen and dietary information about each dish, which is extremely important information for servers to get correct. 

6. Create incentives

Creating incentives is one of the best ways to keep workers engaged and working hard. Incentives can be used in training and during actual shifts to improve customer service and server performance. 

Some incentives to offer include a free meal, a gift card, preferred parking spot, and even raises. Plus, incentives can instill a friendly sense of competition in your staff, which can bring some additional fun to your workplace!

On-boarding Your Restaurant Staff

Employee training can seem like a hassle, but it is incredibly important in the long-term to ensure your staff provides great customer service. 

Creating a restaurant staff training manual will ease both your and your new hires’ stress during the training process, making a better working environment for everyone. Plus using some or all of the 6 tips when on-boarding your staff will better prepare your new hires for their first actual shift and improve your reputation as an employer. 

So, starting writing your staff training manual and planning those incentives to create a great work environment for your current and new staff members!


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