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Restaurant Training – Waitress and Waitress Training Role Playing Games Tips for Hospitality Education and Learning

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Incorporate Role Play for a Winning Training Program

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Are your teams delivering their best performance with every guest that walks through your doors? Incorporating role plays into your training programs will help your guests get a special performance every time.

Role play is one of the most effective tools in the trainer’s toolbox where participants can experience real life situations and “learn by doing”. Role play can be used to train any level of company personnel, including staff, managers, and even company executives.

Role-playing allows teams to experience real-life situations in a controlled, simulated environment. With participants playing the roles of guests, employees, and managers, they can be better equipped to handle situations.

Due to the controlled environment, role play allows the trainer to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and design an action plan for growth and development. When used to master a skill, role-play builds confidence as the skill is practiced and a trainer administers the training. Since the coach is next to the student, he can easily determine if the student has mastered the newly discovered technique and is ready to work alone in her position. When role-play is used to emphasize another person’s feelings, it allows teams to acknowledge those feelings and understand the effect of their behaviors or those of others. For example, acting out a guest situation will allow teams to better understand how a guest is feeling. As a result, they will learn the level of service that must be provided to provide a quality experience. Another benefit of role-playing is helping team members understand the consequences of breaking policies, such as being late for work, and the stressful impact it can have on the entire team. As a result, they will learn the importance of being on time.

How to start

Prior to the scheduled training date, company assessments should be conducted to determine specific areas of performance/improvement to be addressed. Next, the business facilitator needs to determine the overall results to be achieved and how the issues will best be addressed. For example, the trainer must determine if the problems are more related to emphasizing feelings or strengthening a skill.

Next, the business facilitator should determine the specific characters associated with the problem and the particular roles they will play. There are many roles that can be played, such as guest and service representative, manager and team member, service representative and kitchen team member, or similar combinations.

Finally, the company facilitator, armed with the necessary scripts and scenarios, can develop training aids and other training tools to address the overall goals of the program.

As a starting point, we have listed some suggested scenarios to help you role-play with your teams. Before beginning the role play, always ask for volunteers so that shy or less experienced teams can observe each other first to help build their confidence.

Suggested scenarios

1. Cashier on the phone and not acknowledging a walk-in guest

2. The server is abrupt and rushes a guest while taking an order (asks questions in a curt and quick manner and shows rushed body language)

3. The server is too friendly and talks too much with a group of business guests having a meeting.

4. Waiter scolding a kitchen worker for an order placed incorrectly.

5. The host or hostess is sarcastic and moody when a guest asks for information about the menu.

6. The host/hostess tells a defensive guest, “I told you the wait was 20-25 minutes and you only waited 10 minutes.”

7. The bartender is cold and unfriendly while the only diner seeks attention and conversation.

8. The bartender chats with some regulars and ignores a guest who obviously needs something (a drink refill, a napkin, condiments, etc.)

9. Two people on the bus discussing personal matters while ignoring a guest’s service signal.

10. A member of the kitchen team loudly demands that a waiter pick up an order

11. They disrespect the dishwasher when servers throw dirty dishes without scraping them first.

12. A troublesome team member who makes co-workers do extra work; create disagreements among staff; under administration; constantly being late; and similar situations.

13. Manager tells guest “no” or “we can’t do that” without apologizing, adding explanation, and offering options

14. Manager pointing fingers and arguing with a guest when handling a complaint

15. Manager threatening the job of a team member

Alkis Crassas, president of EVOS USA, Inc., a healthier fast-food chain based in Tampa, Florida, routinely uses role-playing, saying, “Although role-playing goes further by placing participants in the spotlight, after the butterflies disappear, will soften and your team will begin to see the overall goals of your restaurant.”

If role-play is designed correctly and executed effectively, it can be invaluable to the success of any business. Most importantly, when role-playing is interactive and fun, your training goals will be sustained and result in a high return on your investment. Role play adds to the life experience of each participant and when people experience something they will take it with them more than any book, video or lecture could ever replicate.

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