Reader’s Q&A: How to train food and beverage staff

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 22, 2011 09:28

Peter Burkill, Wales: You have often written about the need to train and develop front line staff. We are seriously considering setting up an internal training programme. What subject do you think we should cover and how will they best be delivered?

Steven Brown: Can I believe my eyes? A convert to the idea that staff are worth investing in! Bless you! I have always been an advocate that the success of any retail business lies in the hands of the people your customers encounter most – your front line staff.

Many of you reading this response will acknowledge that our industry should invest more on the development of its key personnel. That said, many employers will simply employ the cheapest pair of hands available and will suffer the consequences of that action accordingly!

I believe that the training of staff, whilst having a financial impact in the short term, can have a dramatic impact on the long term profitability of your food and beverage outlet.

So what must be taught and what might be taught.

Training musts:

• Legislation (licensing law, health and safety, first aid and so on)

• Customer service/care

• Dealing with customer concerns

• Simple selling skills

• Product merchandising

• Product knowledge (particular in wines and foods)

• Product dispense

• Customer communications

• Standards maintenance

• Operational procedures (for example, till technology, cellar work, in-house procedures and regulations)

• Waste reduction methods

• Blue sky thinking (ideas generation and recommendations of how your service can be improved).

Training mights:

• Chalkboarding

• Financial understanding (implications of stock results)

• Conflict management

• Merchandising back bar displays

• Wine appreciation.

You can add to this any particular units you deem appropriate, for example, IT.

Some of these programmes can be delivered in short, sharp sessions perhaps in an hour or less. Others need a programme of activities that may run over a number of weeks.

The provision of training needs to be given out at times that suit your employees, both full and part time, and this in itself can cause problems. Perhaps the best bet is to rota training into the normal working day by adding 30 minute sessions to the start of the working day, or the end of it, whichever suits.

The best way to communicate the information you need to be remembered is by means of a mixture of visual, verbal and practical demonstrations.

Make your session fun-filled with mini tests and team activities. Offer prizes for right answers and assistance for the wrong ones. Pair less experienced staff members up with buddies to help develop them with on the job experience.

Consider rewards for increased efficiency and reduced waste.

You must comply with due diligence by keeping and maintaining training records. Investigate if any local authority funding is available to assist you with the programme but don’t be put off if it isn’t.

Remember – If you think training costs money – what does ignorance cost?

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick October 22, 2011 09:28
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