The restaurant industry is a labor intensive industry. No matter how many innovations come about the need for staff still remains both at the front end and the back end. Here in the USA, most of the restaurant staff are temporary workers, thus creating a unique challenge for the owners; that is providing consistency in service. Thus comes the importance of training and a comprehensive restaurant staff training manual.
In the United States, staff training is all the more important because given the nature of the labor market in the restaurant industry, training the employees in a standardized manner is the only way restaurants can ensure consistent customer service. This standard can only be set through prescribed guidelines, thus the need for a staff training manual.
The importance of a restaurant staff training manual can in no way be undermined. Even if you follow the best training practices, they will be incomplete without a staff training manual since it is not just a written version of your practical training but a resource for employees to go back to and an insight on your restaurant policies and practices which sets and maintains the work environment.
Most restaurant owners in the USA leave the creation of a staff training manual for the end which is perhaps why most training manuals are dry, stiff and not much of a thing employees look forward to reading. You must remember that most of your employees will be summer students and other hustlers until you don’t run a fine dining restaurant, which is why the staff training manual needs to be engaging and simple enough to understand, yet must get the job done.
Here we have for you all you need to know regarding training manuals for your restaurant staff, starting from what they are and why you need them, how to make a restaurant staff training manual and some tips to keep in mind to make sure that it is more than a dry read.
What Is A Restaurant Staff Training Manual?
A restaurant staff training manual is a handbook that will be given to your staff members in the form of a small handbook when they join the restaurant. It will contain rules that they need to comply with, various processes that they will be trained in, how to’s of their duties and responsibilities and other such technicalities. This manual will act as an induction read for your employees and in time be a resource material for them to come back to in case of any confusion. Thus a restaurant staff training manual is not just an introductory guidebook for your employees but a reference material to seek help from in future as well.
Why Is A Restaurant Staff Training Manual Important?
Unfortunately, a lot of restaurant owners do not see the value of a restaurant staff training manual in its entirety. This leads to poorly written manuals which can neither act as a proper induction guide nor a good resource book. Hence it is crucial to understand the true value of a restaurant training manual.
Helps Maintain Consistency
Your staff training manual will bring a written level of standardization and permanency to your training practices. As said earlier, most servers and other restaurant employees in America are students and other hustlers. They come and go depending on the school season or university timings. Hence it is very easy to lose your standard of service and become inconsistent with the type of service given to the customer. A training manual solidifies some significant do’s and don’ts for all your employees to follow, thus setting a minimum benchmark for the services offered.
Guide To Avoid Mismanagement
A staff training manual clarifies the proper duties of every job profile and member of the team so confusions or clashes regarding who is supposed to do what work is avoided. In case they ever rise, the manager can always go back to the manual in order to solve the clash.
Go-To Resource Material
The staff training manual will have precise instructions to follow for all the machines so even if an employee does not have a lot of practice, he/she will be able to handle the machinery without causing losses or hurting themselves.
A Tool To Set Work Culture
The restaurant staff training manual can be used to induce employees to your restaurant’s working culture and set a good tone of behavior for them. If an employee manual only consists of what not to do and how to run operations, it will set a mundane mood but if the same manual starts with your vision for the restaurant and how the employee fits in it, there will be a happy wave of motivation set in the employee.
A Catalyst To Training Process
It can be used to speed up employee training by giving a new hire time to flip through the manual first and then instead of you giving him another theory lesson, he can be taught on the floor with references from the manual.
How To Write A Restaurant Staff Training Manual?
Writing a restaurant staff training manual is not too difficult. Your training material can be used as a strong tool by you to not just train but also motivate your employees to work in your restaurant. Here is a step by step process of how to write a restaurant staff training manual followed by some tips you should consider to make the most of this resource.
1. Writing The Basic Staff Training Manual
The first thing while composing your restaurant staff training manual is to write a rough sketch of it. This rough sketch, however, is not notes regarding what you will include and not include in the manual but the training material without customizing it for the user itself. Here is a step by step process to write a restaurant staff training manual for the American restaurant space:-
(i) Assemble All Information
The first step is to assemble all the information that must go in your manual. Sit down and jot down everything that needs to be covered. Start from various operations then go into the nuances of conducting the operations. Even if something seems extra or useless write it down at this point. It can always be edited and removed later when you are structuring the manual but if you forget something, it will be difficult to add it to the finished version. The major areas that your restaurant staff training material should talk about are:-
Front of the house operations
- Order taking and delivering
- Table management
- Cleaning after tables
- Etiquette to greet customers
- Table etiquettes to follow
- How to ask for customer feedback
- How to respond to negative feedback
- How to handle dissatisfied customers
Back of the house operations
- How to handle technology being used
- Cleaning duties and hours
- How to check, order and unload inventory
- How to manage vendors and raw materials coming in
- How to operate various machines in the restaurant How to process the orders coming in from the front of the house
(ii) Decide The Flow
Once you have all your information ready, next is to decide the flow of the information. Where do you start the manual and where do you end it. You can choose what to explain first and what to keep for the last depending upon the nature and format of your restaurant. Our advice is to keep your mission statement first,then go onto what you expect from the employee, how he fits your vision and what he can get out of working for you, then go to what different jobs are in the restaurant, the duties each entails and finally move onto what’s and how’s under every job role.
(iii) Divide Information Into Modules, Chapters, and Other Parts
Once you know the start and the end of your restaurant staff training manual, all that is left is the middle. This portion will be the main crux of your manual. It will include different job roles, job descriptions, the duties of each, how to carry out those duties and explanations of any technical details that the employees may need to know to understand and perform their duties.
For this, take the information you had assembled earlier and divide it into different modules. Edit the unnecessary information now. If you think something is getting repetitive, check if this is the case in the same module or across modules or else you may end up deleting necessary information for someone. Once you have divided and written down all this information, read it once again module by module and chapter by chapter to ensure that something is not missing, there are no gaps in information and that the content is correct and comprehensible.
(iv) Include Summaries, Previews, and Tests
Once the basic model of your manual is ready, add chapter summaries, chapter previews and chapter-wise tests for the convenience of your staff.
(v) Add An Index Page And A Table Of Contents
This is the most important part of your restaurant staff training manual. Remember, your training manual is not just a guide for first-timers but also a resource that your already trained employees can turn to. If they need to read an entire manual for one doubt, they might as well let it go unresolved. Adding an index page and a table of contents will make your manual workable, practical and usable for both your new hires and seasoned employees.
2. Adding Value To The Manual
Once you have the content of your training manual for restaurant staff in place, next is adding value to that content. As mentioned above, the restaurant space in the USA comprises of professionals and students on a summer job, alike. Hence you need to make the manual a good read, imbibe it with life and make it a not so dry or boring experience. For this here is what you can do:-
(i) Clarify Who You Are Addressing To
Address the person reading the manual directly. Instead of using terms like ‘the staff member must..’ or ‘the employee should…’ directly write ‘you must’. This creates less confusion, gives an active voice to the manual and makes the employee feel directly addressed to.
(ii) Include Real Life Scenarios
Put in examples, as many as possible and while you are doing so, put real-life scenarios that the staff members will relate to as an example. This will not only make the manual more relatable but also lay down an example for your new hires as to how problems are solved in the restaurant.
(iii) Don’t Call It A Staff Training Manual
When you call a training material something so dry, no one wants to read it. Add a little fun element and show your restaurant’s sense of humor by calling the training manual something else like, ‘Our How-To Book’ or ‘The PlayBook’. This will set a relaxing mood, will turn your manual into a lighter read and in the least not scare the employees away.
(iv) Include Your Mission For the Restaurant
Most restaurant owners instead of focusing on what the employees must do focus more on what they must not do in their restaurant staff training manual. That sets a negative tone and makes them disinterested in work while putting them in a position where they feel like they are walking on eggshells. Reverse this by talking about the vision of your restaurant and your mission instead. This gives the employees a larger goal to relate to and work towards. This also tells them how they fit into the restaurant’s vision and gives them a wider set of ideas to work with and more motivation to work itself.
(v) Add What You Expect Out Of The Employee
Do not just tell the employees what they must not do or what your goal is, but also how they fit in it. Mention what duties of each position are and what is expected out of them on the job and in the restaurant. Just assuming that after reading how work is done, a staff member must know what all he must do and the quality he/she must produce is a recipe for disaster.
(vi) Make It Fun To Read
As serious as the contents of the manual is, make it easy and fun to read. Include quizzes, some jokes, practical tests etc in order to break the monotony of the training material. Play with the font, make the manual colorful or play with designs and colors in the background. The point is to not let it feel like a school textbook.
Writing restaurant staff training manuals may not be the most fun part of running a restaurant, but it is definitely one of the most important parts of staff training. Thus, the value of writing a training manual for restaurant staff cannot be overlooked. Follow our guide to easily write training material that your staff would love to learn from.