Role-Play Ideas for Restaurant Training


Your restaurant employees have a lot to remember and sometimes, no matter how well you train them, it seems they’re still lacking in confidence or knowledge retention. Role-playing, when utilized as part of a blended-learning strategy, can help fill these knowledge gaps.  To see why role-playing is so effective in training, think back to how you learned to drive a car. 

Did you watch a quick video and then jump behind the wheel? Probably not. Someone showed you the proper techniques, then you went through the motions in a parked car until you felt confident enough to go solo around the block. It wasn’t until you received the green light that you grabbed the keys for good. 

Conducting Role-Play Sessions

Don’t give employees the go-ahead to perform important skills with customers until they’ve demonstrated a certain level of proficiency in role-play sessions. Here are steps for conducting sessions with your employees: 

  1. Write the role-play scenarios down before the training meeting. Provide specifics and “set the scene.” 
  2. On a tablet, white board, or flip chart, identify the behaviors you’re looking for. Be specific. 
  3. Call up role-players one scenario at a time, and have employees take turns playing the customer. 
  4. Give everyone a turn — having good and not-so-good responses in role-play scenarios reinforces learning. 
  5. Discuss each scenario when the role-play is finished, pinpointing good aspects and areas that need improvement. 

Server Role-Play Prompts

Need some ideas for server role-play prompts? Here are a few to get you started: 

Prompt 1: A customer at the bar orders a martini. What would you say to upsell that customer to a premium spirit? 

Great response: Our Martinis are the best in town. We have a Green Apple Twist with Jolly Ranchers and a Dirty Martini that’s perfect with Beefeater Gin. Which would you prefer? 

Prompt 2: A group of four has just been seated. What can you say to increase your check average with an appetizer? 

Awesome recommendation: Our nachos are great with guacamole and sour cream. Would you like those or a sampler plate with all our favorite appetizers? 

Prompt 3: A table of two is hesitant to order dessert. What response could you use to make the sale? 

Sweet answer: Our specialty dessert tonight is a six-layer chocolate cake with mocha filling and fudge icing. I can bring you one with two forks — it’s perfect to share! 

Restaurant Service and Sales Training

The Service & Sales Excellence Waitstaff Training Series is based on Service That Sells!, a restaurant training philosophy developed by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. Click here to learn more. 

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