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A Well Trained Staff is Your Secret Weapon



Posted on 22-05-2013.

By feature writer Noelle E. Ifshin

Restaurant owners are often frustrated by not achieving their goals in relation to quality, customer satisfaction and financial benchmarks, yet many times they have not given themselves the appropriate tools to do so. Tools for your restaurant such as the newest, most integrated POS system, the most expensive kitchen and bar equipment, and even the best operating systems and procedures do not mean anything without a well-trained staff.

People run your business and your business is only as good as your people.  An effective training program is an owner’s key tool to ensure consistency in product and customer service, which is a basic tenant of running a restaurant. 

Here are four key elements of such a program:

Proper Training Materials – Codifying operating procedures so they make sense to you is easy, however organizing and presenting the materials in a way that your staff will understand them may not be. Your staff probably comprises a diverse combination of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures with varying levels of education; additionally, research shows that people learn in three very distinct ways: visually, auditorily or tactilely. A training program that takes all of these factors into consideration should include: job specific written manuals (perhaps in more than one language), demonstrations and/or illustrated step-by-step procedure instructions, and hands-on or role-playing exercises.

Validate & Reinforce Your Training – To validate the efficacy of your training you must quiz, test and confirm that the information has been learned and absorbed. It is also important for managers to reward and reinforce the “good behaviors” done on the job - those that follow operating procedures as trained, as we discussed in our blog Keeping Employees Happy at Work – Happy Employees Part 2. Through reinforcement, you will discover who needs more training, how effective your training is, and perhaps what changes need to be made to your program.

Train your Trainers – Many restaurants often make the mistake of assigning their best employees the task of training new staff without taking the time to instruct them on proper training techniques and methods. Just because an employee is good at what he or she does, does not mean that he or she can teach someone else how to do it. Your trainers must be fully inoculated with company culture including policies, procedures and daily work tasks, as well as customer service values; they must have a complete understanding of the written manual for the job they are training; and they must be taught how to impart information in the way you want, so that training is consistent.

ABT – Always Be Training! – Training should be ongoing, not limited to the initial on-boarding process, and incorporated into the daily routine of your operations. As we wrote in our blog Are your Pre-Service Meetings a Waste of Time?, there is an opportunity every day to share new information and keep your staff’s knowledge up-to-date. Work closely with your managers on what needs to be retrained, as they should be most aware of how policies and procedures are being followed by their direct reports.

A well-run restaurant can survive without the newest technology or the latest equipment. However, it cannot succeed without people trained to execute your vision, product and service ideals.  If you do not invest the time and energy to have a full training program, hitting your business targets becomes increasingly difficult.  As an owner or operator, a well-trained staff – from your Executive Chef to your Bussers – is your primary and most valuable tool.

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