Training your restaurant team members and management is critical to your success. But in a busy restaurant environment, who can you spare to do the actual training? I’ll give you a hint: it’s probably not your best employee and it shouldn’t be you.
For many restaurant owners and managers, they quickly jump into having their best employee in each position become the trainers. But I’m going to tell you right now, 99 percent of those great employees, your best employees in each position, often become your worst trainers. They’re usually good at their job because it comes natural to them. They’re following some kind of instinct; they just have a personality that is perfectly suited to the job, and it comes naturally to them. This instinct makes them impatient with others who don’t have it, such as in training a new employee who has a different personality.
When you start to think about who’s going to be doing the training, the logical person is you, the restaurant owner. It’s an opportunity to build a special relationship with each new team member and it allows you to establish a strong leadership presence in your place, but the truth is you need to delegate training.
While you care the most and know the most about your restaurant, your job is working on budgets, marketing, developing your managers, leading the team, holding them accountable, thinking strategically, moving your business forward. It is not to get in the trenches and teach somebody how to dice an onion or bus a table.
Before you can delegate the training, though, you must have systems in place. The systems are your process, your way of doing everything in your restaurant. You can’t have five different ways to train somebody on how to create a burger. They need to follow the recipe. There’s only one way to count out a bar drawer and serving a table: your way. You have to establish all of those systems first before you can train someone to start training. You need to get all that information out of your head and into your system, your process, your way.
Once you get some kind of training system in place—and it can be a training system without having everything else systematized—you need to then train the trainer.
You can’t just throw someone on the floor, point to someone on the shift and say follow that person—although that is common. So many restaurant owners point the new employees toward the most senior person on the shift or the person who’s been there the longest and tell them to just do what they do. That’s not a trainer and that’s not a training system.
You also need to make sure you compensate the trainer both in both the front of house and back of house. All too often in restaurants, they’ll compensate the front-of-house person, but not in the back of house. Training someone is an extremely important responsibility and whoever is doing it should be compensated. You want your trainers to feel appreciated and like they get paid for their knowledge, effort, and patience.
Find the employee on your team who does it your way, who will follow your lead and ensure people who are coming in and doing it your way. That’s the most important part. Then make sure they are trained on your training system, and you’ll be on your path having great new employees.
David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert who teaches restaurant operators how to cut costs and increase profits with his trademark Restaurant Prosperity Formula. He’s taught thousands of restaurants how to use operational systems and create a hospitality-based company culture to skyrocket their profits.