In the ultra-competitive retail and restaurant environments of today, every advantage counts. Ask store managers and employee trainers where their biggest competitive advantage is and they will tell you that it’s their people. A good price can bring people in the door but it won’t keep them coming back if your staff doesn’t deliver a good customer experience. And how is that experience delivered? Your people. You need to train your employees effectively to create an environment worth returning to.
What’s the secret to an effective employee training program? It might seem simplistic to suggest that it starts with the right employees, but it’s true. The hiring process should lead results in candidates that fit your company culture and who are interested in learning about your business. Your back-of-house employees need not be the most outgoing candidates, but your host or floor staff should be eager to please.
One good way to foster employee engagement is to keep them interested via shorter learning sessions. Think about it - do you want to sit in a room all day reading from a paper binder or watching pre-recorded training videos? The answer should be “no,” and it should be obvious that your employees don’t want to do that, either. Keep your materials mobile and the duration moderate. Mobile learning puts the training on the floor or line where they will put the new knowledge into place. Shorter training times - anywhere from a 5 minute or less “micro-learning” session to an hour-long deeper dive - help maintain interest and engagement around a targeted subject instead of mixing multiple topics. Check out our eBook on Modern Learning to see more ways to keep your employees learning.
Since people learn differently, make sure your training materials are available in a variety of formats. Some employees may prefer video, while others may benefit from a mix of text and video, supported by short quizzes to reinforce recollection. Be mindful of the location of delivery, too. A text document wouldn’t be useful on the kitchen line - video or photos are much more appropriate. Someone at a point-of-sale station may have time to read short text blocks but you don’t want to get them engrossed in a video to the point that they ignore incoming customers. Keep track of what works, and where.
Gather Feedback From Employees
Once you’ve hired the right employees and given them the tools to expand their skill set, you should have a method to measure customer satisfaction. It’s valuable to share this information with employees so they can see where they need to improve and the message isn’t being handed down from upper management. Your staff can then take that feedback and see where they need to improve in order to keep customers coming back.