February 8, 2022

Building An Effective Training Program For New Restaurant Employees

In this article: Tips for creating a training program for new restaurant employees, including outlining days of training, how to keep it updated, and how to stay consistent.


When new employees join your restaurant, do they go through a rigorous training program, or do you let them hit the floor on their own right away? Most of you would most likely say you fall somewhere in between these methods.


If you’re not familiar with the hospitality industry, you may be surprised to know that oftentimes restaurant workers, including managers, never receive any type of formal training, but instead were thrown into the fire one night and just kept learning as they went until they figured things out.


“Training” in the restaurant industry is a bit different than training in other industries. Why? 

  • Restaurant workers are typically young and part-time, so training has to be efficient and affordable.
  • Restaurant environments are fast-paced and details are constantly changing. Keeping a training program up-to-date can be a huge task.
  • We’re a high-turnover industry. Sometimes there just isn’t someone to train the new kid so into the fire they go!

However, almost any successful restaurant operator will tell you that creating a thorough and clear training program (and being consistent with it!) is a must if you plan on running a decent service. Let’s take a look at how to outline an effective training program, keep it up to date, and how to execute it consistently.


How to outline each day of training

Outlining a training program that works for your restaurant starts with naming each role in your FOH staff. Each of these individuals play a different part in the success of your venue, and understanding exactly what each of them do is very important for both of you of course.

Once you have each role named, outline the steps of service for that role Keep this very specific to the steps each role follows when serving the guests. This is the most important part of their job, and you must be able to very clearly explain your expectations.

Next, start to gather other material that the employees will need to learn during their training, like menu information, uniform guidelines, table numbers, sidework duties, company info, or other details specific to the venue. This will give you a good idea of how much “learning” a new hire has to do, so you can begin to gauge the length of the training program. 

You may decide that each new employee, regardless of their job role, will complete the same training program. Or, you may decide to build programs specific for each role. Either way, decide how many days you want each person to complete so that you can then outline the tasks to be completed and learned on each of those days.


Outlining tasks on specific training days

Once you have laid out individual days of training for each job role, you can start to add tasks that you want the new employee to complete on each day. Be specific with these, and write in very clear language. Here is an example of a fully outlined day of training for a server.

Hostess final day of training clearly outlined.


Being thorough and intentional with this process is important. Remember that when your new employee is completing this training, it will be their first impression of you and your venue, so keep things organized and to the point. How you write things matters! 

Also, just a note here that creating a training program using pen and paper or a simple spreadsheet is effective, but using a system built to do just this is a great option as well (ahem, I know of one! Click here for the secret).

Related: 5 Reasons to Use Technology In Your Restaurant

Keeping the training material updated and organized

Every restaurant I work with has challenges with keeping their training program updated and organized. This is because of the nature of working in a restaurant - things change fast! We’re always rolling out a new menu, tweaking a recipe, changing a POS system, or putting new policies in place for takeout orders.

Every time something is changed, it has to be updated in the training program. You have to constantly make sure things are consistent, or else you will be looking at that training program you spent weeks building a year ago and realize it all has to be redone. This is where using some kind of technology is useful, because reprinting handbooks and manuals is expensive and tedious.

Staying organized is key to being able to update your training material. Ditch the bulky binders with 500 sheets of paper that nobody spends the time reading. In order to keep your training program lean and efficient you have to cut to the chase and make sure your priorities are organized.


Now be consistent with it!

Okay, so you’ve created a shiny new training program, you’ve gotten yourself and your restaurant organized, and you’re ready to bring in some new rockstar employees.

Being consistent with how you execute a training program is, in my opinion, what sets apart good restaurants from great restaurants. Remember that the goal is to build a team that works well and can communicate effectively, and making sure that each person receives the same level of training is the only way to get there. 

Consistent training looks like this:

  • Your management team and trainers are highly organized and confident with the material they are using to train and onboard the new employee.
  • The new employee has access to all of the training material that they will need either before or at the beginning of day 1 training.
  • Management and trainers follow through with the daily training schedules and hold the new employee accountable during training.

Remember to not overcomplicate things! If you read that list above and thought "oh, that's actually pretty simple" GOOD! It is simple, and with just a few hours of work you can set yourself and your team (current and future) up for success.

Conclusion

Although it can be challenging and time consuming to put together a thorough training program for your restaurant, it will definitely pay off in the long run! Restaurants with highly trained staff see higher profits, better reviews, and overall higher team morale and attitude. 

Running a successful training program in a restaurant is a full time job. Give yourself a break, acknowledge the fact that our world is a bit chaotic and crazy, and do your best to take yourself and your team to the next level.


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