By: Dianne Heath
July 4, 2011
Tips on Creating a Food Service Training Manual
Working in a restaurant and within the food service industry can be stressful. However using the right tools such as restaurant and food service training manuals, to guide employees, can help reduce stress in the long run.
The competition to retain an established customer base and attract new customers is growing. Manta.com has almost one million U.S. restaurants listed in its directory yet consumer spending is declining. The New York research firm NPD Group reports that Southern California lost a thousand more restaurants than it gained during a 12-month period in 2009 and 2010. Consequently, it has become more important for restaurants to deliver quality service and delectable meals. The most important component to reaching these goals is training the staff properly. A well-constructed training manual can be an effective supplement to hands-on training.
List the appropriate atmosphere for your restaurant. The desired environment influences every aspect your restaurant from how the host greets the customers, the style of clothing worn by the waiters to the types of meals served. A casual setting requires a different attitude and performance than an upscale restaurant. Convey the atmosphere for your restaurant throughout the manual to solidify the message. Plan to use the atmosphere as a theme of the training manual and keep it in mind as you write your manual.
Seek guidance from experienced employees about what should be included in the manual and use other restaurant manuals as a reference. Ask the employees who train or have worked with new employees what guidelines should be emphasized in the manual. They can give you expert insight such as what customers appreciate, and the best method to serve the meals. While you read other restaurant training manuals, record the information you agree with and write ideas you're derived from them.
Relate to the employees to have better clarity on the guidance trainees need. Work your current employees during busy rushes and stressful periods. This will help you to create a feasible training manual. If the employees are not able to efficiently follow the training guidelines, the manual will be futile. In addition think about how the restaurant operates and the system used for quality control. Create a section explaining employees' role and how they should contribute to quality control and restaurant operations.
Assess the most common mistakes and research the most recurrent customer complaints. Explain in the manual the behavior and performance needed to prevent the frequency of errors. Bring attention to overlooked issues and emphasize standards using bold, underlined or italic fonts. Read about the complaints that prevent customers from returning from restaurants. The LA Times reports that customer complaints stem from how they were addressed, being asked by servers if they wanted the change and checks being given too soon to the customer.
Be as detailed as possible but exclude unnecessary information. Leave room for the trainees to develop their own style. Bring the events and training to life by describing scenarios and the suitable manner to handle them. Include charts, diagrams, statistics and images when possible to appeal to all learning styles. The variety of explanations and guidelines also makes the manual more interesting and easier to understand.
Edit the training manual. Revise grammatical errors, accusatory tones, lack of clarity and repetition. Ask your trainers and supervisors to review the manual and suggest changes. Be receptive to constructive criticism. Read over the manual several times to prevent errors.
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