Every restaurant will have a different set of requirements when it comes to training their team, but training is essential. The turnover rate for employees trained for less than four hours in the restaurant business is 16% higher than the turnover rate for those trained for more than four hours.
There are so many variables that affect the successes and failures of a new employee, so you can’t afford to ignore the value of your restaurant training manual.
Unfortunately, it’s too common to resort to the “fail fast” approach for getting restaurant employees up to speed – where employees make mistakes often but are quick to learn... at the potential expense of the guest experience.
Instead of falling into this routine, develop and maintain a training plan and manual to alleviate some of the stresses that go along with training new restaurant employees.
Whether you're creating a restaurant employee manual for the first time or simply making some improvements to your manual, keep these six things in mind to ensure you train your employees well.
6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Restaurant Training Manual
1. Define your mission statement
Make sure that they know exactly what to say about your restaurant when they’re working the floor or even off the clock. We all know how word-of-mouth works in this industry. The people your employees talk to could be your future customers, future employees, and hopefully your biggest advocates.
A great way to think about starting a mission statement is by using the what/how/whom approach.
- What is it exactly you’re doing? Making delicious tacos? Creating a seamless guest experience? Maybe it’s both.
- The next step is defining how you are achieving your “what”
- And lastly, for whom are you delivering this framework? Who is your customer base?
These are the types of questions you should ask yourself when writing your restaurant mission statement. Make sure it’s clear, concise, and will provide meaning to your employees. It’s important that they understand the power of their roles.
2. Encourage employees to ask for help
It’s human nature to want to figure things out on our own — but when it comes to business, it’s extremely important that your employees know that it’s okay to ask for help.
While it’s expected that your restaurant's training manual will cover all the operational ins and outs of your restaurants, it’s equally as important for it to reassure your employees that asking for help is also part of your operational processes.
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Make sure your employees feel supported by telling them you have their back. It’ll improve their performance and the professional relationship you have now and moving forward.
3. Set clear expectations
This should be the very first thing you do when you kick off training. It’s not uncommon to have the new hires and the trainers sign off on an expectations agreement in the employee handbook.
Make sure everyone involved understands the repercussions of not meeting expectations and achieving their goals. Will they get an extra day of training? Is there another role with less responsibility that might be a better fit for them?
If there are employees who don’t meet their goals, ask yourself why. Were they given the opportunity to reach said goals? Was the person training them attentive and focused? Was the restaurant unexpectedly busy?
If they weren’t given the opportunity to reach their goals, make adjustments to your training plan. It might be worth adding a flex day to your plan to accommodate any surprises that might prevent the employee from reaching their full training potential.
4. Don’t overlook your processes and systems
Be cautious not to overlook small (yet critical) restaurant concepts in your restaurant training manual. Simple concepts that might be straightforward to you might be completely new to your employee.
Think about creating a quick guide or cheat sheet for processes and systems, such as:
- Customer service guidelines
- Food prep guidelines
- Cleaning checklist
- Side work checklists
- Closing duty checklist
- Storage checklist
Another thing to consider is which POS systems your new employees have used in the past. If they are new to your system, find out if your POS company has online resources that can help you train employees without having to use a human resource. Save yourself some time and money!
5. Clarify role goals and cross-train employees
Different restaurant roles will have different requirements and levels of complexity. For example, a cashier will require different training than servers or bartenders. Consider this when writing the “role goals” section of your restaurant's training manual.
Another thing to consider when creating a restaurant training manual is the opportunity for cross-training. I once worked at a restaurant where every employee could technically clock in as any FOH role in the restaurant.
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We’ve all had those nights when the only hostess calls out sick and there’s no equivalent available to cover. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars comping customer meals because of excessive wait times, why not cross-train your employees so you can have any employee jump in where they’re needed?
Yes, this can be expensive - but so are all those meal comps!
Laying out the framework of every position in your training manual will give employees something to refer back to when they're called to switch to an otherwise unfamiliar position for that shift.
6. Ask your best employees to train your new employees
You're only as strong as your weakest link.
This might sound a little aggressive, but it’s the truth. If you want your new employees to be strong additions to your team, put a line in your restaurant training manual encouraging newbies to train with your best team players. We all know every restaurant has them!
If you have rockstar employees that don’t want to train but are so good at it, incentivize them. Training is an investment. Hook them up with a free meal or after-work drinks. Give them a gift card. Even better, ask them what they would appreciate in return for being a trainer. Worst case scenario, ask the new employee to simply shadow or observe your all-star so that they won't impede on their work.
Handing your new restaurant hires a copy of your training manual without showing them how the restaurant operates is a classic example of telling, not showing. Make your manual come to life by involving your best staff members and the results will be better than you expected.
What’s In Your Restaurant Training Manual?
Keep in mind that your training and onboarding plan should be constantly evolving – that's why we've made this interactive template that you can update for your employees any time.
Treat each new employee as a learning experience to improve your training plan. As we know, the restaurant lifestyle is not as forgiving as we’d like it to be when it comes to setting time aside for anything but satisfying customers - but when it comes to training your team, the investment will pay for itself.