Where to begin? The first thing to do before you even think about training is to evaluate where you are, and where, and what, you want to be, as a restaurant. Then, create the vision and roadmap with steps to get to that vision. Try to be clear in what it is that you really want your team to work on and the steps that will bring you closer to that goal. Only then can you start the journey to making that vision a reality.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, though. First, let’s take a look at what you want your restaurant to be.
Answer these questions. Describe your service vision [there is no right or wrong]
a. Casual …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Formal
b. Approachable …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Reserved
c. Know the basics …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Knowledgeable
d. Get it out fast …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Leisurely
e. Jeans & T-shirt …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Jacket & Tie
f. Fun & Sassy …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Mad Scientist
g. Grandma’s House …..1…..2…..3…..4…..5….. Emily Post Book of Etiquette
Just a little fun to get you to think about what your vision really is! Many restaurants start training without giving it much thought. Write down the vision of what your restaurant will be.
Build & Plan Your Training
Now that you have started to create your goal and vision, bringing the team together and sharing that vision is the next step. Service teams and Culinary teams must work together and support each other to be successful. Too many restaurants have two separate teams, which seem to work in spite of one another. This is not sustainable. Working as a united team is the only way to achieve your goals. This involves team meetings, team building activities, constant discussions, a clear set of goals, and a vision. Build your vision with all of the team; get them excited and passionate, use their energy, ideas, and experience to incorporate these ideas into the vision!
FOH—Server: Once you’ve thought about what your server role should be, then you can start to look at what your training plan around that will look like.
First outline the job responsibilities. Again, use your team; they usually know, are willing to help, and can be key in developing your plan. Look at side-work, station set-up, cleaning, and equipment pars. Build the day out from the time the staff arrives until they clock out.
Then begin designing your plan around teaching the team each of those basics tasks. Once you have the fundamentals, you build from there into the fun training topics that will lead on-the-floor efficiency, quality of interactions, and service expectations. Consider the following topics:
– Engagement training
– Food Service Etiquette
– Steps of Service
– Table Setting
– Voice and words
Depending on your content, this can take from a couple of hours to two days to teach. If closer to the latter, try to split it up over a couple of weeks, otherwise you will lose and bore the team!
BOH – Culinary: This is an area that I often see never even thought about, let alone discussed. One quick session of debate and discussion can avoid years of agony and frustrations. Develop training that includes communication styles, standards, recipes, hygiene practices and storage, as well as, training on customer satisfaction and agreed upon standards. For instance:
-What our standards are for: splitting a meal, substitutions, dietary questions, hurry tickets, appetizer times, entrée times, receiving feedback?
-Etiquette: How to talk to servers, guest, managers and each other. What language is ok?
-Kitchen code: establish what it is – be clear
-Food preparation, portions, and recipes
-Hygiene, storage, and food preparation guidelines
Just Do it!
You have your training plans put together. Now get started. You will need a quiet room without distraction and the ability for the room to be darkened. Use a power point slide show, or similar, and gather all handouts, props, and tools. Most importantly, who is presenting? Is it you? It does not have to be, but it should be someone that understands the material and can deliver with passion and energy! Make sure to do some hands-on training after the power point using role play to let them practice. Don’t forget that along the way, you all have fun! Have snacks, drinks, food, whatever your budget will allow, but have, at a minimum, water, and dry snacks.
Some other tips that can help:
· Get everyone started all together so that everyone is on the same page. If able, I would recommend that you train your FOH and BOH teams on both [each other’s] areas. This helps to build that compassion and understanding for what each team does.
· After initial training, you will need to complete a condensed version for each new staff member, and then hold annual, or semi-annual, tune-up or refresh sessions.
· Establish job coaches within your ranks [and pay for them extra for it] so that each new staff member has on-floor training and is taught by your best and brightest.
Lastly, training is great, but it is a complete waste of money if you expect now that you have told everyone, they will do it consistently, and you are done! Your management team must be on the floor to assist, redirect, and coach the team until the new culture is in fact the culture. This will take some time, and even after being firmly established, must be constantly embraced and monitored. This requires your team to be passionate about it and talk about it every day; it must be a new part of the daily life. But it will make a difference and the end result will be an operation that you can be proud of!
Focus – F&B can provide on-site training, training tools, and on-going assistance for all of the above sessions and more. We would be happy to customize your training plan for your needs.
Author, Russ Blakeborough, is the Managing Director of Focus – F&B, and a 30-year industry veteran who is passionate about Food & Beverage and travels the country sharing his experience.
Russ Blakeborough is Managing Director at Focus F&B. Russ works to reimagine food and beverage at hotels and restaurants. We work on refreshing your current concept and creating steps for improvement. We have the tools and resources for cost-effective and immediate improvement.
Russ, originally from England, now resides in Savannah, Georgia, in the USA, and operates worldwide.