Achieving a 5-star Rating with Improved Service Standards

Written by Kate Engineer

“Our team is striving for 1-star reviews from our guests”, said no one ever.

As an industry, we like to lean into the idea that we are all striving to achieve 5-star service for our guests, yet this simply isn’t the truth. In addition, despite the challenges the pandemic brought about for the hospitality industry and the major loss in trained service staff, guests have not scaled back their expectations or held back their opinions on popular restaurant review sites.

Google business pages, OpenTable, YELP, and TripAdvisor are just a few of the platforms leading how restaurants are rated, and guests are eagerly using these sites to share their restaurant experiences for other guests. A 2021 consumer review study revealed that 25 percent more people turn to consumer reviews on sites like OpenTable, Yelp, and TripAdvisor than those who rely on reviews by professional food critics. 60 percent read reviews before going out for a meal — a habit that takes precedence over getting directions to a restaurant, or looking at food photos. Guests value the feedback of other guests’ experiences, and are using this information to decide where to dine, while also sharing their own experience and rating restaurants.

Restaurants need to be managing online review channels daily for:

  • New reviews
  • New ratings
  • Providing timely solution oriented feedback and gratitude to guest posts publicly.

Since the introduction of these public review sites, it has been a standard for hospitality businesses and restaurants to be rated out of 5 (5 being the best score) on reservation, travel, booking, and business digital channels. However, amongst the hospitality industry, when defining 5-star service and experiences, the industry considers fine dining, luxury and elite restaurants, and hotels. Layer in rising food, labour, and overhead costs which continue to increase menu prices, and guests are on average now paying more for the exact same offerings in many cases.

These combined factors are quickly widening the gap between what the hospitality industry categorizes as a 5-star experience and guests’ expectations of a 5-star experience no matter the restaurant category. What’s more alarming, is that poor service is a leading complaint for guests and a main reason why they won’t return to dine at an establishment again. It’s never been more critical for restaurants of all categories to get back to the core of hospitality and service excellence, to begin to lessen the gap and support the increasing valuation.

Let’s face it — effective and thorough hospitality service training has become a “nice to have” as restaurants continue to struggle with staff shortages, expertise, and time. In addition, each restaurant’s approach to service training is different, which is also creating inconsistencies across the industry. However, there is a new solution, and their mission is to rebuild Canada’s hospitality service industry with improved standardized service levels by providing effective training and support for both new and existing servers.


Servers Excellence launched in summer 2022 as Canada’s first training and server certification program designed to achieve a 5-star serving standard of excellence for every restaurant category. From QSR, fast casual, and family dining to fine dining, the fundamental mindset of Servers Excellence is to educate and train hospitality servers with an approach of excellence that helps them understand and respect the importance of their role and how it impacts the larger restaurant operation.

Servers Excellence’s extensive two-day training takes place in a restaurant setting for trainee servers to experience the restaurant flow, have visibility into all of the potential moving parts of the operation, and gain hands-on steps-of-service training. If a hospitality business is looking for a custom training program, they can also develop specific training to suit the business needs and team’s developmental goals. Their team of professional trainers can come on site or the training can be hosted off-site, allowing your operation to continue to run without impact. It’s a win-win!

“Witnessing restaurants struggle with service levels and staffing as the aftermath from the pandemic continues and listening to guests’ feedback on how they see our industry has fallen in terms of service standards, were the driving forces behind the development of Servers Excellence and our unique training approach. All restaurant categories are being rated out of 5-stars from guests, so let’s train our teams on how to achieve and support business growth with a new mindset and serving techniques based upon excellence. We’re here to not only support restaurants, but to support the server community by setting them up to excel within their roles,” shares Kate Engineer, Founder of Servers Excellence.


Restaurant owners, General Managers, Managers, and professional servers with extensive hospitality experience, across multiple restaurant categories, make up their team of passionate trainers. The programs are designed to support beginner to experienced servers, with in-depth operational knowledge, specialized training, tools, and performance techniques to develop confident servers who will focus on excellence at every step of service. Their team of trainers are mobile, and are available across Canada to support the entire industry, from small mom and pops to larger scale hospitality operations.

Improved service levels and meeting or exceeding guest expectations is the 5-star difference. A Harvard Business School researcher found that a one-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating correlated with a 5-9% increase in revenue. It’s never been more critical to hire well-trained servers, or invest in effective server training to improve guest experiences and drive more success. Visit Servers Excellence’s website to learn more and for upcoming course dates. Restaurateurs can also contact [email protected] for more information on custom training.

Harvard Business School