Successful restaurants appear to customers to operate flawlessly; in reality, the chaos of food service is contained by a well-practiced and implemented chain of communication between employees at all levels. Train your restaurant employees to operate as a single unit by instructing them on good verbal and nonverbal communication practices. This approach improves customer service, sales and efficiency, which translates to better earnings for your small business and better tips for your employees.

Position Description

Every employee in your restaurant should have a complete understanding of the expectations of his position. Provide written job descriptions and verbal overviews when you hire new staff members. Cross-train employees so they are each aware of the other's responsibilities. This aids in communication and allows employees to assist one another in serving your customers.

Policies and Procedures

Ensure that your employees understand the specific way you want your restaurant run and your customers served. Introduce a typical service strategy from start to finish. This should cover everything from greeting customers to issuing the final bill. Employees who understand standard operating procedures are better able to communicate with one another in the process of service delivery.

Inner-staff Communication

Restaurant employees work in continual coordination with one another, so it is important to implement a specific protocol for exchanging and conveying information between parties. For example, formalize the way in which orders are submitted by wait staff to the kitchen staff or bartender to ensure accurate delivery of information.

Create Nonverbal Cues

Develop a system of nonverbal cues for staff members to use with one another in providing quality customer service. For example, initiate a hand signal or gesture a wait staff person can use to signal a busboy to clean a table. Create a similar gesture for wait staff to alert one another that a table is requesting additional service.

Develop Internal Shorthand

Restaurants are busy, active environments where stopping for a long descriptive conversation is not possible. Develop a "shorthand" that staff members are well versed in. For example, rather than a hostess saying to a waitress that table four is ready for a check, an effective shorthand communication might be, “Check four.” Creating this type of verbal shorthand improves efficiency and helps facilitate better communication.

Encourage Interactive Communication

Even when employees understand their roles and the specific protocol for delivering quality service, there will still be instances where a hectic dinner rush results in miscommunication. Instruct employees to provide colleagues with a “heads up” any time they alter standard operating procedure. For example, if a diner stops a wait person who is not assigned to their table and requests a change in their dinner order, that wait person should be instructed to immediately tell that table’s assigned waiter of the change.