November 22, 2022

Removing “The Binder Method”: How Restaurants Should Be Modernizing Their Staff Training

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you’ve most likely received at least one binder during your new-hire training. You know, the stack of papers outlining core values, mission statements, general information, handbook, menu matrices, etc.

Handing over a massive stack of papers may seem like the most efficient way to make sure new employees literally HAVE all of the information they need for their new gig, but in reality this isn’t the smartest way to train.

Let’s talk about removing The Binder Method, and how to modernize staff training in your restaurant.

In This Article:

  • What Does The Binder Method Do? Outlining Your Training Goals
  • The Cons of The Binder Method
  • How To Modernize Your Staff Training

What Does The Binder Method Do? Outlining Your Training Goals

So you’ve hired a new employee. They start training tomorrow, and you want to make sure they cover all of the bases and learn what they need to be successful. They are going to be training with your star employee, but it’s important that they have material in-hand to review and study with. You put together a training binder for them, with any combination of the following:

  • General Information about the restaurant (hours, dress code, payment forms accepted, phone number, staff contact information, etc)
  • Mission Statement/Core Values
  • Menu details
  • Uniform Guidelines
  • Table Layout/Floorplan
  • Sidework Duties
  • Health and Safety Guidelines
  • Scheduling Information
  • Steps of Service, or “How To Be A Server”

By the time you’ve added everything, the binder has gotten pretty thick!

In my own personal experience as a waitress, these binders were always WAY too long. Honestly, I never read through all of the material. I skimmed through and focused on what I needed to know, which primarily was how to sell the product, AKA the menu!

I’m not saying that the other material isn’t important, it is! But we all know that after the first week, that binder may never get picked up again. Put yourself in your staff’s perspective for a minute, and really outline the goals of their training. Decide what the most important and useful information is, and leave out the fluff.

The Cons Of The Binder Method

You’ve worked hard to put together the material you want your team to know, and it’s important that you communicate it with them. While handing everyone a binder seems like the easiest solution, there are a few downsides to the traditional method.

1. It’s easy to add too much information

Like I mentioned above, it’s pretty easy to pack too much information into your binder, just because you can. No matter how many times you ask, nobody is going to read 50 pages worth of proper etiquette techniques and open-handed service. Sorry, but they won’t. 

2. If something changes, you have to reprint the whole thing

How often does your menu change? What if there’s a massive typo, or the address is incorrect? Are you going to spend the time and money to reprint a new packet for everyone each time there’s an update? Although having a booklet in-hand may seem like the easiest way for new-hires to learn during their training, having the wrong information is never useful. Also, if you are walking them through the binder and having them correct information as you go, that makes you look pretty sloppy and unorganized. 

3. It will most likely get lost/misplaced/forgotten about

After the first week of training is over, where does the binder go? Maybe your staff has lockers and they can store it there forever. Otherwise, you might as well assume that those binders will find their forever home at the bottom of a filing cabinet, or even in the garbage can. Trainees might even lose their binder before training is over, and ask you for a replacement. There has to be a better way!

How To Modernize Your Staff Training

Okay, so The Binder Method is outdated and inefficient. You want to find a better way to train new employees, and provide continuous training to your staff.

Use Technology

Modernization pairs with technology. The restaurant industry is under a bit of a technological revolution, with an abundance of new platforms designed to streamline processes from inventory, ordering, waitlists, guest experiences, and POS systems. It’s time we take the same approach to our staff training and communication.

For a deeper dive on this, check out 5 Reasons To Use Technology in Your Restaurant

YelliApp: Made For Restaurants

Keep it simple. Everything in one place!

Find one app or platform that works for you. Lots of teams use Google Suite to share documents and relay information. Updates are saved in real-time, and they have mobile apps for all of their file types (sheets, docs, slides, etc).

There are lots of staff training platforms out there, but not many designed exclusively for restaurants. In food and beverage, we have high turnover rates and constant changes that need to be communicated, meaning we need low-cost training programs that actually work for us.

Check out Simplify Your Restaurant: Why Your Team Will Thank You

YelliApp: Made For Restaurants

I developed YelliApp to solve this exact problem, so I am going to shamelessly plug it here! As a waitress and training lead, it became very clear to me that training restaurant staff was different from other industries, and we needed our own unique platform. 

YelliApp gives your team simple, clear templates for all of your material. Your team is notified when things change, and the mobile app makes updating information extremely easy. Everything you need to add to that training binder can be found in YelliApp, and all your staff needs to do is download it. 

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Conclusion: The future of restaurant training is paperless.

Our industry is changing in front of our eyes. Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have had to adapt and grow like never before. The current labor shortage is shifting the power to the workers, who are now able to pick and choose where they want to work. 

Successful restaurateurs are doing everything they can to make the lives of their employees better and more lucrative. This has to start with your training program, your first impression when building a solid team.

It’s time to get rid of The Binder Method, and replace it with modern technology that’s built for our industry.

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