Restaurant Counter Staff Training Manual: What Should You Include in Yours?

The counter serves as the vital link between your customers and the kitchen. Counter service is a crucial element in ensuring steady operational flows for both QSRs and restaurants that have embraced counter service models. In the restaurant industry, service is key.

The counter serves as the vital link between your customers and the kitchen. Counter service is a crucial element in ensuring steady operational flows for both QSRs and restaurants that have embraced counter service models. In the restaurant industry, service is key. Therefore, a faulty counter service could significantly impact your brand. This underscores the importance of thorough staff training for the success of your business and its financial health. And the best tool for this is a Restaurant Counter Staff Training Manual.

A Restaurant training manual includes the general guidelines which are:

  1. Company and Guest Overview
  1. Dress Code
  1. Customer Service Procedures
  1. Disclaimers
  1. Safety and Sanitization
  1. Roles & Responsibilities

But a Counter service training manual is somewhat different.  

Why Should I Use a Restaurant Counter Staff Training Manual?

Many restaurants conduct training workshops as part of staff inductions hoping to save time and effort. Training workshops are quite important for industry freshers, but the success rate of training workshops in restaurants is often low. Many restaurants make the mistake of incorporating methods from generic corporate workshops without understanding their own business environment. Your counter employees already know how a restaurant counter operates. What they need to learn is how YOUR restaurant counter operates.  

And here’s what your Restaurant Counter Staff Training Manual should include:

Your Restaurant USPs – What your customers would like to know

Every restaurant has its unique story, and along with that story comes certain elements or service etiquette that plays a special role in your overall service presentation. Some of these can be your unique selling points, enhancing your business outlook.

For instance, if you're an avid collector of contemporary art who displays various masterpieces in your restaurant, customers might have questions about them. In such cases, your counter staff must be aware of the artworks to share knowledge with customers.

Or, if you're running a Japanese takeout restaurant where customers place orders at the counter, you may ask your staff to welcome them with the local gesture "irasshaimase." If customers inquire about the phrase's meaning, your staff should know how to respond accurately.  

When creating this section of the manual, remember it's for your staff, not your customers. While it may be relevant for customers, it should be easily comprehensible for your staff. Here’s how to plan it:

  • Identify your physical Unique Selling Points (eg:- Tagline of your restaurant, interior, welcome gestures etc.)
  • Create blocks for each, including only about 2 points per block (Don’t overwhelm your staff with too much information)
  • Use simple language (No paragraphs)
  • Highlight or bold key words that they should remember.
  • Finally, add some colour and life into this section of the manual.  

Every role and their overall responsibilities  

Simply so that most of the junior staff understand whom they should reach out to when they need support.  

This is more specifically related to your operational processes rather than customer experience. Just because your counter staff stands at the counter doesn't mean they don't have to know what happens behind the kitchen doors, more particularly, who does what.

Firstly, identify all the roles within your restaurant operations, including the corporate office if relevant. Secondly, define their core role and describe how they contribute to the business in about 50 words. Ensure you use simple language and consider adding catchy phrases if needed. Unlike back then, with generative AI like ChatGPT, you can generate short and sweet descriptions for each role.

Safety and sanitization procedures

A restaurant revolves around food, making sanitization and safety measures crucial. While your Restaurant Service manual likely covers this, it's equally vital to include it in your Counter Service manual. Here's why:

Your counter staff represents the final link in the order delivery cycle, handling both packaged and unpackaged food. They also manage cash transactions, increasing germ exposure. While some exposure is inevitable, spreading germs through food can be avoided.

If your restaurant has specific guidelines for separate food and payment counters, ensure they're detailed in your counter staff training manual. If you prefer your service staff to wear gloves consistently, articulate this creatively in the manual. Engaging language ensures your staff pays attention to these important guidelines.

Mini ‘How to’ guides

This is the most important section of your Restaurant’s Counter Staff Training Manual. In the end, no matter how aesthetic your restaurant is, if the service is too slow or if there’s frequent complaints, it will surely impact on your productivity and sales.  

Your counter staff will not enjoy reading lengthy manuals on all the features of a system. All they want to learn is what they need to do their tasks at the counter.  

  • POS Manual:  

Point-of-sales (POS) systems are modern day cash-registers that can do more than just order- taking and cash collection. Every POS is unique, some are complex while some are easy to use. Here is a list of POS systems that we recommend.  

When creating your POS How-To guide, make sure you don’t complicate it. These are what should be included. Remember to show the exact steps for each component:

  • Order management software (if your restaurant uses any)

Order management software, also known as Restaurant management software, helps restaurants integrate their functions more smoothly. Using order management software has better benefits for a restaurant than staff, but staff must comply correctly to make the best use of it.  

These systems often require a certain level of tech-savviness. Grubtech, however, simplifies this aspect, simply connecting individual software components such as POS, Inventory, and Delivery to a unified dashboard. This integration eliminates the need for counter staff to use a separate order management system; instead, their existing POS collaborates seamlessly with the management software behind the scenes.

In cases if your existing order management system features a distinct interface different from regular POS systems, it becomes essential to include a step-by-step guide for the order-taking process.

  • Customer Service etiquette  

While this might seem like common knowledge, consider that when hiring young individuals for your counter operations, they may not be familiar with certain customer service practices. Given that there's a likelihood that 70% of your counter employees might skim through this section, keep it concise. Here are key points for your customer service etiquettes:

  • Listen attentively to customers; if unsure, seek clarification.
  • Repeat the order for customers to confirm before entering it.
  • Maintain patience and professionalism in customer communication.
  • Encourage customers to explore new menu items.

Enhance Engagement with Hypothetical Scenarios

To inject some fun into your counter staff training model, consider adding a section dedicated to hypothetical scenarios. This extra segment is designed to keep your employees engaged. Use a playful tone and straightforward language to outline potential scenarios and the appropriate actions to take.

For example, if your establishment is a high-end restaurant popular among couples, include a hypothetical scenario on how to respond when a surprise proposal occurs.

Rules and regulations

This section holds immense importance in your counter staff training manual for several reasons, including legal considerations. It outlines the rules and regulations that your restaurant must adhere to. These may include straightforward guidelines such as arriving 30 minutes before a shift or rules regarding complimentary offerings and reimbursements.

Clearly list these rules and provide detailed explanations when necessary. This can serve as a safeguard for your restaurant and employees in case of challenges.

The Closing Shift Procedure

A common oversight in many counter service manuals is neglecting the essential aspects of closing duties. When a team member is assigned a closing shift, specific tasks must be completed before leaving after the last customer. These duties include checking safety points, securing doors and windows, and setting alarms. Include these tasks in bullet points in your counter staff training manual, ensuring that anyone assigned a closing shift can easily follow the procedures without the need for additional training.  

In conclusion

The Counter Staff Manual is more than just a collection of pages, it is the sacred recipe for achieving operational harmony, ensuring that every interaction at the counter reflects the precision, warmth, and excellence you aspire to deliver. You can use a uniquely designed template or an editable counter service training manual template for your restaurant. With a Counter Staff Manual, your staff would wield the magic wand that ensures every order is a delight!

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