In this article: How to keep training material up to date for restaurant employees by implementing technology-based systems.
If you’re managing a restaurant team, chances are that you’ve struggled to keep your new-hire training material up to date. While this can be a challenge in any industry, the restaurant industry is unique in that training is nearly constant (thank you, high turnover) and we hire a lot of entry-level employees who need thorough training.
When someone joins your team, whether as a server or support role, they need to learn the ins-and-outs of your venue. You’ll want them to memorize your menus of course, and be able to converse easily with your guests about the products you offer. In addition, they’ll need to learn your policies and procedures, steps of service, cleaning and sidework duties, and a million other small details.
Hiring in the restaurant industry is challenging enough. Over the past few years, regular high turnover has been met with unprecedented pandemic and economic events that have left many restaurant operators chronically short-staffed. In an effort to simply keep their doors open, operators are often just trying to get bodies on the floor, even if that means shortening their training (or skipping It completely).
If you’re struggling to deliver effective training to your new hires, you’re not alone! Once you’ve taken the steps to create a solid training program, you’ll need to be able to easily keep it up to date.
Let’s take a look at how to keep your training material consistently updated, and how to use technology to simplify things for everyone on your team.
Before we can get into how to keep things organized and updated, we need to define what our training materials are.
In a restaurant, there are core pieces of information that are always necessary. These include: menu details, allergy guides, uniform requirements, steps of service, sidework and cleaning tasks, phone and reservation procedures, and health department policies.
If you don’t have these created, start there! Then you will want to put together any other miscellaneous information that is specific to your restaurant, and you have your training material.
Since restaurant teams all have their own style of training, you may have some other types of training material as well. This could be videos, seminars, or third-party courses.
Make sure that you have one central place for all of your information to live, whether that’s in document or digital format. If trainees are going to need to navigate to another place to complete some of the training material, make sure it is clearly outlined.
Now that you have gathered all of your training materials, we want to make sure that it’s as organized as possible!
I’m all about simplicity when it comes to training restaurant workers. Yes, sometimes you need to repeat the same thing over and over for it to stick, but when it comes to the material you are giving to new hires, keep it short and to the point.
Make sure that you aren’t saying the same thing in 4 different ways in 4 different places of your manual. Cut out extra verbiage and write in layman's terms - or make sure to include an index! Of course you’ll want to be thorough here, but remember that we’re not going to the moon, just trying to run an efficient service. Don’t overcomplicate things.
Have one of your trainers help you with this, using feedback from their experience training team members in the past. Are there parts of the material that often confuse the trainer or trainee? Things that are missing? Parts that get skipped over completely and maybe need to be reworked? Don’t be afraid to reinvent your approach.
Ok, you’ve created your training material, and now it’s time to actually use it.
This is where you’ll want to adjust your perspective a bit. Think ahead and know that all of the hard work you just did is going to change. A lot. Like every day.
Set yourself and your team up for success by finding a system that lets you easily find and edit information. A traditional handbook/training binder is great, until you have to update each individual page and then reprint the entire thing. In 2022 we’re all shifting gears to be as technologically savvy as possible, and staff training is no exception.
Being able to implement technology for your staff training is going to make staying organized much easier than using paper training. You have a few options when it comes to platforms and software, so you’ll want to take some time to research the best option for your team.
Google Drive is a great way to share documents with the team, and you can even set up notifications for updates. The downside to using Google Drive is that it’s difficult to keep the files organized, and information can quickly get buried. Often I will see 5 copies of the same document in a team's drive, because different managers are modifying things at different times.
Another option would be using software built specifically for training material. This is a great (and oftentimes low-cost) investment in your staff, because they can easily access information at all times, and most of these platforms have extra training and communication features built in!
There are platforms like Trainual, that are not necessarily designed for restaurant training, but are more generalized for any industry. These can be great, and are definitely a step above using old-school training binders!
If you really want to take your training to the next level, use a platform designed specifically for restaurant teams. Yelli is an all-in-one digital training tool for restaurant workers, and will act as a large template for you to fill in with your training material.
The beauty of using a digital training platform (especially one built for the industry) is that finding and updating information becomes much easier! However, whether you are using pen and paper or the latest app, they unfortunately won’t update on their own.
I find that the key to keeping things updated is to be consistent, and to make updates daily. I know, that sounds like a lot, don’t freak out on me just yet.
Think about it - if there are two updates/changes made every day (let’s say a price increase and a new liquor available in the bar) over the course of the week, that’s at least 14 updates that need to happen. What about every month? Every 3 months?
Most managers that I work with aren’t updating material every week, or even every month, so the updates accumulate and eventually turn into a large project. Get into a daily habit of updating things to avoid this happening, and to make things easier on everyone. Not only will new hires breeze through their training, but veteran team members will be grateful for consistently having the info they need to get the job done right.
Your training program is an essential part of running a successful restaurant. This doesn’t mean that it has to be complicated or time consuming! Get really clear on each team member’s objectives, write it out in an organized way, and find a system to effectively deliver it to your team members.
Do yourself a favor by creating a habit of updating things as they change, instead of waiting to update everything at once. Doing this will not only elevate your training for new hires, but will help all of your team members elevate their service.