During my past 30-plus years working in the front of the house at a number of restaurants, I’ve learned that when it comes to running a successful restaurant business, staff training is of the utmost importance. I have even written a book on the subject: The Secrets to Restaurant Management and Staff Training. What I’ve found is that utilizing a training tree can make all the difference.
What is a training a tree? A training tree consists of a network of training programs designed to help individuals perform their jobs to the best of their ability and contribute to the well-being of the team.
From each training program, individuals should understand how their actions affect others in order to help create a culture of unity, respect, and appreciation. Keep in mind that new hires come with their own experiences and level of knowledge, so be sure to outline your specific objectives and expectations.
Let us start with the foundation. The company sets up the foundation of core values, vision and mission statements. These must be taught and upheld in all training programs.
From there we move to the trunk or the information that everyone must know. These items may be about food, computer knowledge, table numbers and location of necessary tools throughout the restaurant.
From there we go to five different training branches. First, we have the hosts, who must be trained to be well-versed in the restaurant layout, the computer system, and general operations.
Server programs make up the second and third branches, and programs for bartenders make up the fourth and fifth branches. These branches start first with job basics, such as the steps of service servers should follow, and how bartenders should count while pouring. The next tier represents programs for individuals who already have the basic knowledge, and who may only need to learn the computer system, menu items, specialty drinks and the layout of the restaurant.
Many restaurants make the mistake of having only one training program. Employees who have done the job before can become bored and disengaged, and they may not show up for the subsequent classes.
The tree itself is representative of the managers, who must bring each part of the team together. While training can primarily focus on the basics of culinary arts, food costing, labor costs, and the like, don’t overlook the psychological aspects of “soft skills.” Are those skills not just as important? Doesn’t a server’s attitude affect service thereby affect the guest? When managers listen to staff, appreciate all that they do, understand their needs, and make sure they work together, they help the restaurant run more smoothly, have fewer problems, and create opportunities for higher profits.
The ultimate task throughout the training process is to make sure that what is taught is actually enforced. Many times, people go through the training process, only to find out that their new skills are not practiced on the floor or upheld in the office.
Once individuals have gone through the training process, remember to keep up with the learning process. Training and teaching go hand-in-hand and need to be done on a daily basis no matter how long a person is with the company.
Maintaining a culture where everyone enjoys their work will have a positive effect on a new staff member, who will be encouraged to join in and become part of that culture. It all starts with the proper training.