Making dough with Diane: Five Keys to Training New Employees

Diane Chiasson
May 13, 2011
By
The quality of service you offer can determine whether or not customers will visit your pizza operation again. Your employees are a vital part of your organization and training new hires well is essential to running a successful business. Some restaurant and foodservice operators think that if you show new employees how to ring in an order and operate the cash register their training is done. This is a big mistake.

Training an employee properly takes time and patience. It is a privilege and a huge responsibility. Taking the time to do a good job could mean the difference between bringing on board a valuable new team member who stays with your operation long term and hiring someone who quits after just a few months.

Here are nine ideas to help ensure your new hires are trained right, and ready to contribute to your pizzeria’s success.

Put together a training manual
One of the most important tools for training new employees is a proper operational training manual. This manual is essential for maintaining consistency throughout your operation. Your customers expect to eat the exact same food and receive the exact same level of service each time they come into your operation, whether it’s employee A or employee B cooking or serving. The manual should contain information about uniforms, break times, setup, cleanup, the specific responsibilities of each job in the restaurant, how to handle difficult customers, coupons/promotions, and any other information that an employee may need to refer to if a situation arises. If you are unsure how to assemble a proper training manual, look online for templates that you can purchase or hire a consultant to help you put one together.

Homework for new hires
Along with your training manual, you should provide your employees with paperwork they can study at home. This can include recipes, steps of service, or any other vital information that your employees need to know to do their jobs well. You can train your employees verbally, but often 90 per cent of what you tell them will go in one ear and right out the other. It can be quite overwhelming to start a new job, so giving your employees some homework can allow them to learn your operation on their own time.

Give a proper tour
Never have the attitude that a new employee should just start working and will figure things out along the way. Make sure that each new employee is given a full tour of your entire operation, and explain how each area of your operation is set up and why.

Explain equipment and safety
Make sure that you review all the equipment in your operation, and the proper safety precautions for each piece. Show your employees how to operate each piece of equipment step by step, and allow them to practice while you watch. You can tell a person how to do something over and over again, but the only way they will really learn is with hands-on practice.

Give a proper introduction
It can be quite intimidating to start a new job where all the other employees are friendly with each other. Make sure that you properly introduce your new hire to every single person in your operation, and that your staff welcomes your new hire.

Get to know your new employee
Sit down with your new employee for lunch or a drink, and talk to them in a more informal setting. Tell him or her about yourself and discuss the history of your operation. Share any anecdotes you have about your restaurant. Tell your new employee about your Christmas parties or other staff events to show him or her that your pizzeria is a fun place to work.

Introduce employees to your food
In order for your new employees to be able to sell your food and drinks, they must have an opinion about them. Make sure your new employee tries every single item on your menu. He should also study the menu inside and out, and learn all the add-ons, preparation, ingredients and prices of each item.

Don’t leave the job up to others
Many owners and operators of a restaurant may leave training up to their best server. It’s easy to just have your new employee shadow your top server, following him or her around for a few shifts to see how things work. While this is not a bad thing, it shouldn’t be the only training your new employee receives. Your top server may also be passing on bad habits and gossip, and could even be resentful of having a shadow, and fail to do a good job training. If you use the shadowing method, make sure that you keep a close eye on what is happening. Sit down with your new employee at the end of the shift to go over things.

Give a performance review
A few weeks after your new employee has been given the green light to work on her own, be sure to give a performance review. If she is doing a good job, let her know in order to help build her confidence and attitude. If she is making mistakes, point them out immediately so they do not happen again. In fact, it is important to give monthly or bimonthly performance reviews to all employees. You may lose control of your operation to your employees if you leave them too long to their own devices.

Use these nine aspects of training to ensure your training program is giving justice to your new hire and your pizzeria.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and
promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.

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