How to Ensure Your Dining Business Staff is Properly Trained

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | How to Ensure Your Dining Business Staff is Properly Trained

As any restaurateur knows, the success of a dining establishment hinges not just on the quality of the food but equally on the performance of the staff. A well-trained team not only ensures a smooth operation but also creates a pleasant dining experience that encourages customers to return. This article delves into the different aspects of staff training that can lead to a successful and profitable dining business.

Assessing Training Needs for Your Dining Business

Recognizing the training needs of your business is the first and foremost step. It starts by defining the roles within your business. The responsibilities and skills required for a chef differ vastly from those of a waiter or a dishwasher. A clear job description for each role serves as a benchmark for identifying the skill gaps that training can address.

Training needs can also arise from performance feedback. Regular assessments of staff performance can reveal areas that need improvement. If several staff members show weakness in a particular area, such as customer service or safe food handling, this indicates a need for group training. Individual weaknesses, on the other hand, can be addressed with personalized training or mentoring.

Customer feedback can also be instrumental in highlighting training needs. Reviews and feedback, both online and offline, provide insights into customer satisfaction and highlight areas where your team may be falling short. This feedback can be invaluable when shaping your training program.

Another crucial aspect of training needs assessment involves compliance with legal requirements. In many jurisdictions, staff handling food or serving alcohol are required to undergo specific training and hold valid certification. It’s essential to ensure your staff members are appropriately trained and certified to avoid potential legal issues.

Consider future needs when assessing training. As your business evolves, so too do the skills your staff needs. For example, if you plan to implement a new POS system, training will be required to ensure all staff are comfortable with the change. Therefore, ongoing assessment of training needs should be an integral part of your business strategy.

Understand that training isn’t a one-time activity but a continuous process. The restaurant industry is dynamic and constantly changing. Trends come and go, technologies advance, and customer expectations evolve. Regular re-assessment and updating of your training program can ensure that your staff remains equipped to meet these changes head-on.

The Many Types of Trainings That Are Crucial in the Dining Industry

There’s no one-size-fits-all training program for the dining industry. The type and extent of training needed can vary significantly based on factors such as your business model, the size of your establishment, the complexity of your menu, and more. However, some areas of training are universally crucial in the dining industry.

Food Safety Trainings for Kitchen Staff and Waiters

Food safety is paramount in any food service business. Training in this area encompasses understanding foodborne illnesses, proper food handling and storage, and maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen. It’s not just the kitchen staff that needs this training; servers should also be trained to ensure food is served correctly and to recognize signs of potential food safety issues.

According to Synergy Suite, one of the food safety training resources available to businesses, …Food safety training has an immediate and major impact on the health of the community and population as a whole, and it’s important to remember that.”

Allergen awareness training is vital as well. With an increase in dietary restrictions and food allergies among the public, it’s essential that staff understand common allergens, cross-contamination risks, and appropriate communication with customers about their dietary needs.

Staff should be trained in the correct response to a food safety incident. This includes understanding when and how to recall a dish, notify management, and communicate with the affected customer.

Additional Kitchen Safety Trainings for Restaurants

Apart from food safety, the kitchen can be a hazardous environment requiring additional safety training. Fire safety training, including the proper use of fire extinguishers and the protocol in case of a fire, is critical. Employees should also be trained in using sharp tools and heavy equipment safely to prevent accidents and injuries.

Slip-and-fall accidents are common in the fast-paced environment of a restaurant kitchen. Training should encompass the importance of keeping floors clean and dry, proper footwear, and safe carrying techniques.

First-aid training is a must for all staff, not just those in the kitchen. Knowing how to react in case of an injury could mean the difference between a minor incident and a serious accident.

Customer Service and Upselling Training for Front-of-House

Front-of-house staff are the face of your business. Their customer service skills can make or break a dining experience. Training should cover effective communication, conflict resolution, and the importance of a positive attitude. Role-playing exercises can be especially beneficial in this area.

Upselling is another skill that can significantly increase your restaurant’s profitability. Training staff to highlight specials, suggest add-ons or premium ingredients, or recommend pairing dishes with drinks can lead to a considerable boost in sales.

POS and Money Handling Training

The point-of-sale (POS) system is the heart of any modern restaurant operation. All staff should be comfortable using your chosen system to process orders efficiently and accurately. Training should cover not just the technical aspects of using the system, but also best practices for ensuring data security.

Money handling is another critical skill for your front-of-house staff. Training in this area should cover proper cash handling procedures, giving the correct change, and security procedures for large cash amounts or during cash drops. This not only helps reduce errors but also protects your business from theft.

Here Are Some Additional Trainings You Could Consider for Your Dining Business:

  • Wine and beverage knowledge for upselling and pairings
  • Time management and multitasking
  • Conflict resolution and stress management
  • Training on specific cuisines or cooking techniques
  • Training on dietary restrictions and cultural food preferences
  • Leadership and management training for supervisory roles
  • Social media and online communication skills

Shadowing and Mentoring: Learning From Experienced Staff

Shadowing and mentoring are powerful, hands-on training methods that can help new employees learn the ropes quickly. Shadowing allows a new staff member to learn by observing an experienced employee, gaining insights into day-to-day operations, and understanding the role’s responsibilities in a real-world setting.

Mentoring goes a step further. It involves pairing a new or less experienced employee with a seasoned staff member who can provide guidance, advice, and feedback. This one-on-one relationship can significantly enhance the learning process, building confidence and fostering a sense of belonging in the new employee.

Mentoring benefits not only the mentee but also the mentor. The mentor gets an opportunity to hone their leadership and communication skills, which can be beneficial for their own career growth. It also promotes a culture of continuous learning and mutual support within the team.

The success of a shadowing or mentoring program depends on choosing the right people. The mentors should be experienced, patient, and have a knack for teaching. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions are also crucial to ensure that both parties are benefiting from the arrangement.

While shadowing and mentoring are effective training methods, they should not replace formal training. They are best used as supplements that provide practical, on-the-job learning to reinforce the theoretical knowledge gained from formal training.

Leveraging Technology in Staff Training

Technology has revolutionized many aspects of running a restaurant, and staff training is no exception. Digital tools can make training more engaging, flexible, and effective. They can also help track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of your training program.

Online training platforms, for instance, offer a vast array of courses covering everything from food safety to customer service. These platforms often include interactive elements, such as quizzes and games, that make learning more enjoyable. They also allow for self-paced learning, which can be especially beneficial for busy restaurant staff who may find it challenging to attend scheduled training sessions.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are emerging technologies that offer exciting possibilities for staff training. These tools can simulate a restaurant environment, allowing staff to practice skills or handle hypothetical situations in a safe and controlled setting.

In addition to these high-tech solutions, simpler tools like video tutorials or mobile apps can also be effective for staff training. These resources can be accessed anytime, anywhere, making them a convenient option for on-the-go learning.

Restaurant management software can also aid in training by providing real-time feedback and performance tracking. For instance, a POS system could track how quickly and accurately orders are processed, providing insights that can guide training efforts.

It’s important to remember, however, that technology is just a tool. It can facilitate training, but it cannot replace the human element. Face-to-face interaction, hands-on experience, and personal feedback remain crucial components of effective staff training.

A well-trained staff is indeed one of the most valuable assets a dining establishment can have. From ensuring food safety and providing excellent customer service to efficiently handling orders and cash, every aspect of a restaurant operation hinges on the skills and performance of the staff.

Training should, therefore, be a top priority for any restaurateur. This involves not just identifying and addressing current training needs, but also anticipating future needs and keeping up with industry trends and advancements. While this can be a significant investment of time and resources, the payoff in terms of improved operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, business profitability, makes it well worth the effort.

It’s important to remember that training is not a one-off activity but a continuous process of learning and improvement. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, providing opportunities for on-the-job training, and leveraging technology, you can ensure that your staff remains competent, confident, and ready to deliver an exceptional dining experience.