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Know it or Show it

March 1, 2007
Originally published in the QSR Side Order Newsletter

Being in the hospitality training industry for 20+ years (I started when I was 12), I've seen my share of training programs. Get out the microscope and take a good look at yours. Is the main focus seeing what the employees and managers know via testing or what they show via demonstration and skill observations?

Face it, both matter. If the customer asks a question about a menu item when ordering, the cashier needs to know the answer. Cooks need to know the recipes or builds. Those type of things can be tested. However, don't stop there...and most training programs do. ‘Train for a day or 2, pass the test and you are trained.'

The next step is the one the customer really cares about - does the employee actually do the job. Filling out a test with the proper way to greet a customer is one thing but actually greeting them the proper way is what matters to the customer. Therefore, create ‘Skill validation checklists' and observe the newly trained employee or manager on the behaviors they should be exhibiting.

Three goals are accomplished with this approach:

1) The customer is getting what they pay for - better service, more consistent food, etc
2) You can see how well the employee was trained and what else they may need to work on
3) You will see how well your trainer did. Often times, the trainee may not be doing something the proper way because that is how the trainer showed them.

Multi-unit managers must take this same approach with all their new managers as well.

Finally, remember this should not be a one-time event. Complete these after the initial training program and then at 30 days and 90 days after hire. Managers should be also evaluated twice yearly before their evaluations to give them solid, objective feedback on their performance. After all, the customer doesn't care what you know, they care what you show!