How to train up your restaurant staff to keep customers coming back
Rather than just an additional cost, training your restaurant staff should be considered as a real investment - building your reputation and reviving your business' energy. Many restaurants use a 'learning on the job' approach, but this can often leave staff feeling unsupported and unsure of how to address knowledge gaps. This can result in dissatisfaction and a higher turnover meaning more effort and time is spent on recruitment.
As all restaurants know, it only takes one bad review to lose customers. That’s why providing training is so important when it comes to equipping your employees to deliver an outstanding customer experience. It’s also a great way to upskill workers, provide career progression opportunities, keep them motivated and and instill some common best practices across the team.
Build your training plan around your employees
When putting a training plan together you’ll need to set out some clear goals and outcomes for each step; this will help both you and your employees prepare for the training ahead. It should include information such as what will be expected from them, how long the training will last and what they can hope to gain from it. Different plans will need to be created for different roles. For example, front of house staff will need training that focuses more on customer service, whereas chefs will need training based around food standards and delivering consistent quality under pressure.
Upskill for a more efficient workforce
Upskilling your employees is not only great for making your workers better at what they do, it also gives them an opportunity to broaden their skillset. This could come in handy upon occasions where team members with particular skills are unavailable; for instance, if your bartender is ill. In this situation, it would be useful to have other staff members who are also bar trained, and able to easily step in and cover for them.
There may also be some areas where employees need to improve or maybe they’ve asked for specific training in a certain skill that they would like to focus on. Investing in upskilling will make them feel like they progressing, and combining this with an incentive of a bonus, pay rise or promotion, will mean that they’re more likely to stay with your business for the long run and become a valued member of staff.
Mix it up to keep employees engaged
The execution of the training your restaurant staff should be engaging, useful and easy to digest. With training often a combination of both theoretical and practical approaches, it’s a good idea to mix it up.
Some examples include:
Shadowing: Getting employees to shadow more experienced members of staff can be really beneficial and can be carried out during the working day with little disruption. They can then see how to deal with certain scenarios such as processing orders, having food sent back to the kitchen or any other problems that may come up.
Instruction manuals: These are useful for the more theoretical side of training. For example, health and safety regulations, food hygiene practices, food standards and laws and any other relevant legislation that they should be aware of.
External Training: This could involve an external company visiting your restaurant to carry out the training, completing it offsite, or working through it online. Although this can often be more expensive, it’s a good option if you’re short on time or would prefer to use a specialist company that may have additional expertise in a particular area. If accessing funding is an issue, you could look into getting a restaurant loan to help you out.
Get everyone onboard with technology
Technology is increasingly becoming a part of restaurant culture. Whether it’s tablet-based ordering, restaurant apps or simply a new model of till, you need to make sure you’re able to transition your employees smoothly from the old to the new. Although implementing new technology can seem like a huge overhaul, always remember to highlight the benefits, how it can make employees’ jobs easier and how other restaurants are using it to create a better experience. Getting a digital savvy member of staff to help fellow employees use new technology will also help on the practical side of things whilst getting the whole team up to speed.
Keep it up with reviews and refresher sessions
Once the training is over, it’s time to assess how effective it was. Follow up with your employees and ask how they have found the training. Has it been helpful? Do they now feel more equipped to handle their role? Was there anything that wasn’t covered? Asking these questions will help to improve training in the future and also fill any knowledge gaps that still exist. It’s also worth booking in some refresher sessions to recap on key areas and keep up with any developments in the industry. Your employees will therefore feel supported, valued and more confident in doing the best job they can.