Four Ways New Technology is Making an Impact on Restaurant Training Programs
The restaurant industry has enjoyed a steady rebound since the recession—a fact reflected in hiring trends over the past few years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 6 non-farm jobs added to the economy since the recovery began have emerged in the food services and drinking places sector. The industry is growing, and with this growth comes more jobs.
Of course, with more jobs comes the need for more employee training. Restaurant training programs must efficiently teach workers—from new hires to experienced employees—the skills they need to increase productivity and customer satisfaction. The rise of tablet technology, such as the iPad or the Surface, is giving companies an incredible avenue to reach these goals. Here are four ways technology is making an impact on restaurant training programs:
1. In-kitchen training with video
Obviously, the preparation and quality of food is the most important focus for any restaurant. Teaching employees to correctly and consistently cook menu items goes a long way in determining success or mediocrity. Restaurant training programs that incorporate tablets or iPad and, specifically, the video capabilities of the technology bring a new dimension to mastering the menu. An iPad can be set up in the kitchen so that employees can watch, and follow along, with a video presentation of how something is prepared. The video can be paused and rewound as needed so that the worker thoroughly understands every step of the process. For experienced cooks, this approach is great for learning new menu items being sent from corporate. Moreover, recent hires can be taught the necessary skills without pulling managers and other cooks away from their duties for a long a period of time.
2. Instant updates, instant notifications
Recipes often change or are improved, and other processes of restaurant training programs are inevitably updated. Thanks to tablet-based training solutions, these changes can be automatically made and appear—almost instantly—on the appropriate devices throughout the company. Execs at corporate and general managers at individual locations won’t worry that an email update will land in a junk folder or that front-line employees won’t see the changes. Furthermore, instant notifications alert the tablet users of the updates. If a change must be made to a recipe, just about every base is covered to get that information to kitchen.
3. New hires catch on sooner
Employee turnover is still a major issue at restaurants, so getting new hires up to speed is imperative to help invest them in their new jobs and/or to maximize their productivity before they do leave. Restaurant training programs that include tablets quicken the pace at which new workers learn and master the skills necessary to be successful. One reason for this is that video training has been shown to be far more effective than printed materials. Hires learn faster and, thus, are contributing right away rather than needing weeks to get up to speed.
4. Bandwidth savings
Streaming video and other Web-based content would seem to be a great approach for restaurant training programs. The only problem—and it’s a big problem—is that the constant Wi-Fi connection that is required ultimately cuts into the store’s bandwidth that other systems such as the cash registers rely upon. Furthermore, many restaurants now advertise free Wi-Fi, and some of the bandwidth must be allotted to customers, who may come away with a negative impression if they can’t get a connection for their laptops. Innovative tablet-based solutions allow content to be stored on the devices themselves; the only time a Web connection is needed is when training videos and materials are automatically being downloaded. The content can then be viewed whenever convenient—and offline.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge with your restaurant training programs?