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8 min read

If you haven’t read the past article on the experience that we are breaking down, start with part one of missing fundamentals – the backstory. This article will focus on training fundamentals missing within that experience and other necessary elements of a proper training program.

So what problems exist within this experience on the trainers part? (Let’s ignore the management errors for now.)

It starts with what we have been discussing this entire month a lack of fundamentals. The trainer appointed should not be in a training role. She didnt know the menu. She fought the customer that was trying to bring a concern up to her. She disliked the trainee she was training and instead of training him correctly, she set him up to fail and then was quick to throw him under the bus when he did. They had referred to him as dingus after he left for the night. Badmouthing of the new employee instead of absorbing the blame showed poor morale and elitism of veterans versus new hires. This elitism will surely raise the restaurants hiring costs and hurt long term success of the company, as anyone that doesn’t fit the status quo will be quickly outcasted.

Furthermore, she has likely been overcharging every customer for months. Someone does not typically achieve trainer status until they are with the company for a longer period of time, usually at least a year. Their “new” menu rollout was at least 4 months old as we had that menu on our previous visit. She has likely been overcharging customers for at least four months.

How many people didn’t say anything and just chose not to return? How many didn’t notice and paid significantly more than they should have? How much money has this server and other employees that also agreed the ‘special’ didn’t exist made in unwarranted tips?

This is customer theft that occured, hopefully, through negligence. If it was purposeful, that’s frightening and should involve terminations.

So how does this happen? Lack of training and lack of accountability. Every employee should be trained on every part of the menu. This includes odd combinations and small print, but should definitely include standard entrees and menu offers.

Servers and bartenders should not receive trainer status just because they’ve been employed with the company a long time. They need to be your best servers, they need to want to train, and they need to be trained on how to train properly. They should take and score highly on any test that the trainee will take. There should be a comprehensive, written, training manual that goes through what the trainee is supposed to learn on what day. The manual should be followed regardless of previous experience. Experienced new hires may need more training than someone that has never served before because they have to unlearn systems from their previous employer.

Every employee should go through the training program. If you are just creating a new training program, make sure all of your current employees can pass the quizzes and tests.

As mentioned earlier, good test scores and good service aren’t enough to make a good trainer, the person has to want to train as well. Servers that don’t want to train end up skipping important aspects, rushing through the training, or purposefully training poorly to avoid training again. This doesn’t even include if a veteran server is malicious and purposefully tries to make a new hire fail because they don’t like your hire.

Ideally, you will have several different trainers that each exhibit a different training style. Some people learn better hands on, some want you to show them once and they got it. Some servers need detailed instructions, and others want to know the ‘why’ behind certain tasks. It’s helpful if you have trainers that lean towards each one of these styles. This will give your new hire the greatest chance of success and a wider variety of opinions on the capabilities and strengths of the new hire.

After you’ve found a good server and ensured they actually want to train, you’ll need to train your trainer. Just because someone knows how to do a job, doesn’t mean they know how to appropriately train that job.

You’ll start with your training manual. Your training manual should be laid out by day. On day one they do an orientation and follow their trainer, on day two they follow their trainer and learn the first page of the menu, and so forth. That way trainers know exactly what to train for the day and the new hire isn’t rocketed through training because they say they get it, but are actually missing key elements. Every potential hire should be informed in the interview that every new hire must follow the 7-day (or however many yours includes) program before they take their own tables regardless of experience. If they know ahead of time, there are no surprises and they are more likely to follow the script than rush it.

Each day should start with an overview of what will be learned that day. The trainer will then go through the important training for the day.

Give your trainer the necessary points to cover, but allow your trainer to have a bit of flexibility as to how to teach it. This makes the trainer more invested and makes the process less dreadful for everyone involved.

At the end of the day, go back over the material that was supposed to be learned for the day. Allow the new hire to ask questions. Afterwards, quiz the new employee on what they should have learned.

This should be your process for each day of your training program with the last day consisting of a comprehensive test that must be passed prior to that server taking tables on their own.

Your trainer should know how to train each one of the day’s topics. Go through it with her and ask questions as if you were the new hire. Train important fundamentals, then train them again. Give examples of words you would say and actions you would take during specific parts of the training program. This will give servers and idea of how to train with their style without having to create everything on their own.

At the end of this, if you do not have a suitable trainer, you need to become the trainer until you can find and train an effective one. Don’t just skip the qualifications or you’ll end up with huge long term problems.

As you can see there are certain basic fundamentals that should be included in your training program. By creating, teaching, and following a full training program you will ensure that every employee understands the minimum qualifications of the job, expected service quality, and what they will be accountable for. This gives you leverage to correct and discipline when incidents do happen.

With consistent training comes consistent standards. This leads to consistently positive customer experiences and higher employee morale and that’s preferable to every one.

Getting back to the poor experience story we talked about on Wednesday, many poor aspects could have been properly prevented. With a proper training program, the errors of the trainee would have been corrected before they became problems. The trainer would not have been awarded training responsibilities as she was unfamiliar with the menu, had a bias against the new hire, and did not appear to want to be training. Further, proper steps of service would’ve taken place and when errors occured, proper damage control would have kicked in.

We will explore the fundamentals of proper service as well as damage control in next week’s articles.