For new employees and seasoned staff members, high-quality training can be the element that sets a restaurant apart from its competitors. As innovative technologies — like digital signage, kiosks, and digital menus — appear in restaurants, it’s no surprise that 73% of restaurants surveyed suggested they wanted to upgrade their technology in a 2015 industry report. But, introducing the technology isn’t enough; companies must deliver a consistent customer experience that resonates with their brand to use this technology efficiently. With the right training, you can improve productivity by implementing more efficient customer service procedures, and even enhance consumer experience — increasing your chance of establishing repeat business.
Building training processes for new technology will ensure not only better service, but improve your chances of utilizing the latest tools to their fullest potential — increasing both profits, and customer loyalty. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Select Innovative Products
First and foremost, if you want your restaurant staff to have a good experience when using new technology, then the new systems you implement should be intuitive and effective. Preferably, any new application that you implement should require minimal training and rely instead on user intuition. The more intuitive your solutions are, the happier your employees will be to start using them and learning more about what they have to offer.
Step 2: Incorporate Various Training Techniques
When designing a training program for restaurant staff, it’s important to remember that different people will have different learning styles. While some employees will learn best through visual representation, others will appreciate hands-on, tactile lessons. At the same time, older employees that aren’t as used to working with technology like digital signage may struggle more than millennial employees who have grown up using technology. While it may be difficult to create a comprehensive approach to teaching — particularly if you have time constraints — there are ways you can adapt your plan to cover a wide range of learning requirements. For example:
- Establish a program that includes varying techniques, addressing both visual, and hands-on training
- Get involved and show employees how to complete an action with step-by-step instructions – allowing time for repetition and mistakes
- Try to keep training fun and upbeat wherever possible, to reduce stress
Step 3: Train Group Leaders First
Once you’ve established a plan for introducing new technology — whether it’s a digital menu that allows customers to place their own orders with the kitchen, or an updated point of sale — consider teaching a select group of leading employees first. By training employees higher in the staff hierarchy first, you reduce restaurant down-time and allow for a dynamic restaurant environment where employees can train each other. This is particularly useful in busy kitchens where it may be difficult to find enough time to spend training newer employees.
Training leaders first is not only an effective and efficient way to pass information throughout the business — it’s also a great way to encourage collaboration, while preventing one solitary instructor from being overwhelmed with questions and concerns.
Step 4: Make Technology Fun, and Routine
If long-term employees have been using certain methods for a number of years, introducing new technology might be met with some resistance. It’s important to show your staff that you’re transitioning out of an old way of working into a new one, so that your new tools become part of the everyday routine. For example, if you’ve just introduced a new electronic kiosk, ask for weekly updates on how staff members feel about using the technology.
Although it’s important to make the introduction of new tech feel natural in the workplace, remember that learning to use new equipment and develop skills shouldn’t be a worrisome experience. If you can make the concept fun and exciting, it’s likely to have a better impact. For example, show employees what rewards the new systems will bring, and get them involved in the notion of upgrading the business.
Step 5: Set a Good Example and Show off Success
Finally, don’t forget the importance of setting a good example to employees. Restaurant employees are more likely to take to new technology faster if managers set a good example by using the new systems themselves.
At the same time, as employees continue to use the technology more often, attempt to draw attention to the positive impact the change is having on the organization. Publicizing the wins in your business is a great way to show your staff that the change is successful. Depending on the size of the company, you might even consider using your marketing team to share your wins.