Service Staff Training

Backstage Pass: Service Choreography Explained

Course Outcomes

This etiquette course for service staff will:

  • Discuss the importance of choreographing service.
  • Explain a staff member’s role in providing great service.
  • Offer instruction for serving meals.
  • Provide tips for caring for service items.
  • Suggest tactics for dealing with the unexpected during an event.

Course Overview

Parties, luncheons, dinners, and receptions that appear effortless rarely are.  Behind the scenes, a cast of characters ensures the production runs smoothly.  This course is designed for people who support those who entertain for business, diplomatic, or social reasons.  During this hands-on workshop, participants will learn how to choreograph the mechanics of an event for the purpose of supporting a host’s entertaining goals.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Explain their role in the entertaining process.
  • Recognize service pieces and the appropriate use of each.
  • Care for service items.
  • Set a table for a variety of events.
  • Create and use service checklists.
  • Take coats, open doors, pass hors d’oeuvres, and perform other service functions.
  • Serve and clear formal meals.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline 

Invisible and Available: The Role of Staff in Entertaining

Whether for a social, diplomatic, or business purpose, when people entertain, guests should feel comfortable and the host and hostess appear gracious and at ease.  Well-trained staff members have a lot to do with achieving those goals.  These people think five steps ahead, plan for the unexpected, and work with the utmost discretion and skill.  Perhaps a guest has used the wrong fork, leaving him with no utensil for his next course.  Maybe someone has failed to show for a seated dinner.  Perhaps one of the guests has had too much to drink.  The scenarios are endless. In this introductory portion of the workshop, we will explore the role of staff and dozens of surprises anyone in service should be prepared to handle.

From Forks to Finger Bowls: Understanding the Elements of Service

A coffee cup with no saucer, a soup bowl with no under plate, or a soup spoon placed for use with ice cream – those types of mistakes have no place in a well-run residence. This portion of the course offers an overview of the elements found on a formal table and the role of each.  Once class members have an understanding of a place setting’s components and their purpose, we will discuss how the meal being served should influence how a table is set.

Sterling, Silver Plate, Crystal, China, Linens: Cleaning, Caring for, and Storing Supplies

If you have beautiful things, you won’t have them for long if you don’t know how to look after them.  Silver ruined with quick dip, vintage china destroyed by a dishwasher, and delicate linens yellowed by bleach are only some of problems that can arise if service items do receive proper care.  This hands-on segment reviews methods for cleaning, caring for, and storing entertaining supplies.  Participants will learn how to polish and store silver, iron and fold napkins, remove water stain deposits, and care for vintage pieces.

It’s More Than Knowing Where the Forks Go: Setting the Table

At this point in the seminar, participants will understand their roles in the entertaining process, the purpose of each element of a formal place setting, and methods for caring for those pieces.  During this part of the program, we will talk about rules for placing table elements and other considerations participants should keep in mind when setting the stage for an enjoyable meal.  For example, when should place cards be used? When are candles appropriate? What are the rules for designing the perfect centerpiece?  This part of the workshop suggests several guidelines and the reasons for them.

Five Minutes ‘Til Curtain: The Value of Checklists

Smart staff members leave little to chance.  Are there fingerprints on the front door? Are the restrooms clean and their wastebaskets empty? Did someone dust the light fixture in the entry hall?  Yes!  And how do professional service staff members know the answers to these questions?  They use checklists, and they take the time to look at every aspect of a guest’s experience from the point of view of the visitor.  During this section of the course, we will walk through an event through the eyes of a guest and develop a checklist for future use.

They’re Here!: Parking Cars, Opening Doors, and Taking Coats

A staff person’s role in an event will depend on the type of activity and the host’s and hostess’ preferences.  The well-prepared service person knows to clarify expectations long before the first guest arrives.  In this workshop segment, we will examine best practices for establishing a plan, parking cars, opening doors, taking coats, passing hors d’oeuvres, and performing other service duties.

Perfect Plates: Serving Meals

There is an art to serving formal meals and a longstanding code of etiquette. During this part of the program, we will explore the ins and outs of serving.  From knowing what side of a guest food should be presented to pouring wine correctly, this workshop segment will provide service staff with a clear understanding of how to present and clear a formal meal.

By the conclusion of this program, participants should know the role of service staff, the elements of a formal table and how to care for them, how to set, serve, and clear a table, and how to deal with surprises.

Available Formats

  • Full-Day Training Course

Onsite Training Course Reminders

Our instructor-led training courses are available to private groups.  These workshops are not offered in a public seminar format.  Please contact us to speak with a facilitator about your needs and bringing training to your organization.

We offer training in the following US states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We also travel to Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Canada, Central America, Continental Europe, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom.

Please contact us about your location.

Onsite Workshops