Q:The labor market is tight, and turnover is high. My financial results are slipping. What can I do to survive and thrive?

A: Turnover is expensive. Estimates put turnover of crew members at $2,000 each and managers at six to nine months of salary. Effective training reduces turnover by fostering confidence. Teach your team to “understand” not just “do.” Training needs focus on understanding, not imparting knowledge. Employees can know a lot about something but not really understand the importance of it. Why should they offer appetizers, beverages, special entrees, dessert, a legitimate greeting and thank you? Why do you want excellent product quality prepared quickly? Why is a sparkling clean facility necessary? People can forget what they know, but they never forget what they understand. When was the last time you needed a refresher on tying your shoes and brushing your hair? When was the last time you recited a few of the elements from the periodic table in chemistry? What’s the difference? Tying your shoes and brushing your hair has real meaning ad application to your life and are more important to you and you have a high level of understanding. At one point, you may have know the periodic sign for iron, but today you may not be able to recall it. They most successful companies continually train employees to a level of understanding, and where there is understanding there is breakthrough and paradigm shift. Take the time with each training technique to answer the key question of “Why?” Use these techniques to move your training to a culture of understanding:

Be Repetitive.

Every player that enters the NFL is a great player. So why do they practice? Professional coaches explain that amateurs practice to get it right, but professionals practice so they don’t get it wrong. Practice the same activity over and over and over. Use a simple technique called five steps of training: 1) Tell the trainee what you are going to train and be clear on why. 2) Show the trainee how to perform the activity correctly. 3)Have the trainee tell you how he or she is going to perform the activity. 4) Have him or her show you how to do it. 5) Discuss the result after the activity is complete. Check for understanding not just knowledge. This allows for all the learning styles to be involved: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

Use Workshop training.

This is a structured classroom-style learning and one of the most impactful and positive training techniques. Set and agenda to follow a similar format as below:

For a 60-minute session

    •  Lecture to include a dynamic presentation on the material or video 15 minutes.
    •  Work in small groups on worksheets 15 minutes.
    •  Small groups present to the larger group 15 minutes.
    •  Recap significant learning points 15 minutes.

Learning is locked in by forcing individuals to discuss the issues, find solutions, then stand in front of their peers and present their findings. Public speaking is a fear of many people. Fear has a significant influence on creating a presence in the moment. If someone may have to present to the group, he or she is likely to pay close attention and have high recall of the content. The goal is to create a teacher because those who know can do, but those who understand can teach.

Use multimedia.

One underutilized training method is video. The younger generation in the workforce is wired for visual learning mainly because they were born with a computer in one hand and a video game in the other. W live in an age where capturing video is easy and inexpensive. Video can also be watched repetitively. But don’t stop there. Use slide shows, webinars, voice recordings, presentations and other modes for learning. Use e-learning techniques and programs that require interaction, problem solving and online testing. Multimedia training must be focused on building understanding on top of knowledge.

Effective training features multiple teaching methods and a solid philosophy behind the training. If training is simply about the knowledge it will never take nor will the team realize its full potential. The goal is a workforce of people that “get it” with a high level of understanding of the real meaning of product preparation, hospitality and service. And, most importantly, they stick around.


For more information on improving profitability and driving sales, contact AMP Services at rbraa@ampservices.com. Rick Braa is the founder of AMP Services, a Seattle restaurant accounting and consulting firm specializing in helping companies grow profitability.