How to Create a Restaurant Training Manual for New Employees

As a general rule, restaurant owners always have plenty of work to do.

So, when it comes to training new employees, it is certainly tempting to simply have one of your star employees show the new hires the ropes than to spend extra time and energy creating an official training manual.

But creating a formal restaurant staff training manual has significant benefits that you shouldn’t ignore.

Without a written policy, you can’t be sure that the employees you’ve tasked with doing the training are following all the procedures as they actually should, which means they could be spreading the use of processes that lose the restaurant money or degrade the customer experience.

Following a training manual keeps things focused and makes sure nothing important is missed during training. It also gives employees a document they can refer to if they need clarification or want to review what they’ve learned.

A good manual makes the training process easier, too, because you don’t have to reinvent the process each time. It may help to reduce overall training time, because new employees can learn a lot on their own simply by reading it.

In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know to build a solid restaurant employee training for your staff.

Employee Handbook vs. Restaurant Training Manual

First, let’s clarify what doesn’t need to go in the handbook. 

The goal of the server training manual is to make sure that employees have the official instructions they need to do their core work well. 

When it comes to other information for new hires that’s employment related but tangential to their primary, day-to-day work, it’s probably a better fit for the employee handbook.

The employee handbook should clarify all the policies related to employment, including but not limited to:

  • Employment benefits information and enrollment instructions
  • Scheduling practices and procedures (including how to request time off and how time off requests are prioritized)
  • The official dress code for each position
  • Workplace behavioral standards
  • Policies and procedures for discipline and termination
  • Performance review procedures
  • How employees should formally report unethical behavior, such as harassment and discrimination, or make a formal complaint 

The main goals of the employee handbook should be to protect your business legally and make employee onboarding as smooth as possible. It is educational for employees, as well, but most of the instructions they need to use regularly will be spelled out in the training manual, not the employee handbook. 

Keep in mind that there can be some overlap between the two documents, mainly on big picture topics like mission and vision statements, which affect both how employees perform their job duties and how they should treat one another. 

But for the most part, the employee handbook and training manual should be distinct documents with distinct purposes.

What to Include in a Restaurant Training Manual

When it comes to the content of the training manual, we suggest starting with the big picture content and then drilling down to the detailed step-by-step instructions. Here’s some ideas about what to include in each section.

Mission, Vision, Concept

New hires will hopefully already be familiar with what makes your restaurant unique from doing a bit of research before their job interviews. 

However, it’s still important to spell out your restaurant’s mission and values at the very beginning of the training manual. This sets the right tone for the training and gets everyone on the same page about what they’re actually helping to accomplish in the big picture.

It’s ideal if the mission statement makes it clear that each employee is contributing to something bigger, something unique and interesting that they can be proud of. Emphasizing that the restaurant’s mission can only be accomplished as a team can energize people and make them feel appreciated.

It’s OK to keep this section relatively brief so that you don’t dull the impact of your message. Start with a few lines about the type of experience you want to offer, follow up on how you plan to succeed in delivering that experience, then add a few lines about your restaurant’s role in the marketplace. 

By the end of this section, new employees should understand how your restaurant is positioning itself from a business angle as well as a customer experience angle.

You may draw on copy that you have already added to the “about” page of your website and even add a bit about the restaurant’s history to give employees an even better sense of its character as they get started.

Here are a few examples of what your opening section might look like:

  • At Z Bistro, we provide business district employees with healthy, delicious and convenient beverages and meals that they can enjoy on their way into work. We like to think of it as our job to start our city’s day off the right way and to provide a sense of comfort and familiarity that make difficult days a bit easier. We are proud to serve a group of loyal customers because we work as a team to make their experiences as quick and friendly as possible. Our bistro has been proudly serving this area since 1991.

  • At X Restaurant, we provide the most authentic Mexican dining experience in the entire metro area. We strive to give all of our customers a true taste of another culture when they walk through our doors, and we think they keep coming back not just because of our delicious food, but our experience that transports them to another place and time. Each member of our team is an ambassador who plays a unique role in bringing this vision to life. Chef Y, who brought this concept to live in 2010, still leads the culinary team at X Restaurant today. 

Brand and Customer Experience

There are certain guest experience concepts that everyone on your restaurant’s staff needs to know, no matter what their specific role is. Here are a few examples of things you might want to include right away in your employee training manual that apply to everyone on staff:

  • The exact words and phrases that employees should use to greet customers
  • Scripts for how to deal with common issues that come up with restaurant customers
  • The timing of when each customer interaction should happen from the time customers arrive to when they leave (it benefits everyone to understand the full flow of the guest experience no matter which specific role they play)
  • Reminders about dress code and appearance as they fit into the restaurant’s brand values
  • Examples of goals and KPIs that managers will use to assess the team’s success (such as customer loyalty rates, average ticket values, or even the results of customer satisfaction surveys) 

Safety, Security, and Emergencies

There are certain things that everyone who works at a restaurant must know about food safety and sanitation, even if they’re strictly front-of-house.

Any compliance issues that may apply to everyone on the team, such as the need to wash hands after bathroom use, an explanation of what constitutes proper handwashing, or other safety procedures pertaining to potentially dangerous areas of the kitchen, can be listed in this section of the training manual.

You can also list emergency procedures here for keeping both staff and guests safe. These plans may include things like evacuation routes, shelter-in-place locations, the locations of any emergency supplies on site, and instructions for how to use safety equipment such as fire extinguishers.

Software and Other Common Equipment

Everyone on staff should have a general idea of how the restaurant’s point of sale system works.

Many of your employees will have to use the POS system as part of their daily work, but even those who don’t should know how to check out customers in a pinch in case they need to fill in for someone else. Make sure employees understand how things such as a power outage or an internet outage will affect access to the POS system, the kitchen display system, and the delivery driver guidance system, if applicable.

You may also choose to include procedures in this section on things like how to operate the restaurant’s phones, security system, lights, sound system, and other shared equipment that’s commonly accessed.

All Other Role-Specific Duties

After the parts of the manual that clarify the general expectations and shared procedures, it’s time to detail the day-to-day procedures required for each role in your restaurant. 

We already wrote a full post on how to train restaurant servers and what to include in their training. Your restaurant training manual will also have to have sections with all the specific instructions for other roles, such as hosts, bartenders, baristas, runners, bussers, delivery drivers, the kitchen staff, and even managers and assistant managers. 

In fact, it’s a good idea to create a separate manual for the people who will be overseeing new employee training to make them more effective trainers.

A Few Best Practices for Restaurant Training Manuals

Not all training manuals are created equal. Take some time to make your restaurant’s employee training manual easy to use so it’s more likely to be used by employees. To make a manual easier to use, follow best practices like these:

  • Consider a table of contents and index – Longer manuals may benefit from a table of contents that allows employees to find what they need more easily.
  • Make it digital – Provide employees with a digital and physical copy so it’s easier for them to access, more difficult to lose, and easy to search by keyword.

  • Include diagrams – Showing is better than telling when possible. If you can illustrate the concepts that you’re trying to explain, they’ll be much clearer to employees.
  • Pay attention to design – Break up large chunks of texts into smaller, readable points, and use consistent fonts and header styles to make the manual easier for employees to scan. Enlist the help of a professional designer if possible.

  • Include points for review – Adding a few quizzes or assessment questions at the end of each section can be a good way to give employees a chance to make sure they’ve learned what they need to learn.

  • Keep it updated – You’ll need to keep adapting the manual as you assess new needs and challenges that the training hasn’t addressed properly in the past. An outdated or ineffective training manual can get your relationship with your new employee off on the wrong foot or signal that the training isn’t important.

It’s well worth it to take some time to make your restaurant’s employee training manual as easy to use as possible.

Use Tech to Make Training Easier

Using an outdated POS system can make it more difficult for new employees to learn how to do their jobs, even if they have the best training manual they can get. Choose a modern POS system that has a user-friendly digital interface and works on the type of tablets that your employees are already used to using.

The best restaurant POS systems can even take employees step-by-step through various procedures (such as checkout) and prompt them to make sure certain tasks are completed at the right times.

At Truffle POS, we’re committed to offering a comprehensive modern point of sale solution that is intuitive for staff to learn and use daily.

We offer a consultative onboarding process, too, so even the least technically inclined restaurant owners will feel comfortable getting their staff trained on the new system.

Click here to learn more about our online ordering features, or request a free 30-minute demo here