Posts Tagged ‘training’

Staff Training

Monday, August 21st, 2017

High quality and consistent service is something that our members not only expect, but demand.  Yet in a detail-intensive business such as ours where so much has to be done just right in every service encounter, training employees is a gargantuan task, made even more challenging by a transient workforce and high turnover in critical service positions.  Often our employees who have learned the most from our service culture are lost to the lure of the newest restaurant in town or the one with the highest tips.

Given the importance of training and the reality of tight budgets, it seems the only solution to the club training challenge is to organize and format training materials to be easily-given with a minimum of time investment for both instructor (manager) and student (employee).  One solution is to use “on-the-go” training materials where information and skills are provided in frequent, small and easily-digested doses.

But there is more to training employees than just the skills of their particular position.  Employees must also have a thorough grasp of the club’s culture and service values.  Otherwise, each employee is simply doing what he or she thinks is best.  While well-intentioned, this clearly doesn’t foster a consistent quality of service.

There are also a host of policies and procedures that each employee must know – again, this is an area where consistency is imperative.

With so much to teach each new employee, do you have a training strategy beyond osmosis?  Have you ever fleshed out a curriculum for each service position?  Is your training material written down for consistency and formatted for brevity and clarity?  Do you test your employees on training materials?  Do you offer follow-up or refresher training?  Do you track the training that each employee gets to make sure everyone is trained to the same standard?  Do you encourage feedback from employees regarding the adequacy of training?  Do you periodically review and revise training materials?

All of these are legitimate questions about your club’s training effort.  But who has the time you may be thinking?  Some managers will excuse the lack of formal training by saying it just isn’t in the budget.  Yet I would say that training is more about organization, discipline, and the “will to make it happen” than it is about cost.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

On the Go Training

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Hospitality operations face a challenging training burden if they are to deliver the high levels of service expected by their customers/guests/members.  Yet with tight budgets how can managers meet their training obligations while controlling costs since every hour of training is a payroll hour for each employee being trained?  Add to this the difficulty of getting all of your employees together at one time for a formal training session.

The answer to these challenges is to build your training programs around the “on the go” concept where ongoing training material is formatted in brief – no more than five to ten minute – sessions.  In every shift, in every department, there are spare moments, time when employees have finished their shift preparations, time when employees are socializing among themselves or awaiting instructions from supervisors.  Since you’re already paying for this time, plan on putting it to good use.

In every department there are hundreds of operational details that employees must learn and refresh themselves with some frequency.  This is just as true in front office operations, housekeeping, laundry, and sales and marketing as it is in food and beverage.  All that is necessary is for the department head to outline training requirements in brief doses and format them so they can be pulled out at a moment’s notice for either group-led or individual instruction.

With today’s ability to find anything on the Internet with just a few keywords and keystrokes, all the information you need to teach your employees values, etiquette, product knowledge, safety, security, sanitation, HR requirements, responsible beverage service, or how to operate or maintain any piece of equipment is readily available.  You just have to format it for easy use.

Hospitality Resources International has developed a number of On the Go Training programs for leadership, values, service, food and beverage, human resources, accounting, and safety.  These offer a proven model of how easy it is to format material and train your employees to increase their knowledge, skills, abilities, and service techniques.  For example, check out the Training on the Go material on the HRI website.  I’d also recommend you read Chris Conner’s excellent article on his club’s experience with Training on the Go – Training on the Go – A direct line to restaurant profits.

Then get to work developing your own On the Go Training material.  Set a goal of developing two classes per week and then stick to that discipline.  In a year you’ll have a hundred ready to go classes for staff training.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Guest Blog: Training on the Go – A direct line to food service profits?

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Several years ago, the Peninsula Yacht Club was selected to be the club to implement the Hospitality Resources International Training on the Go (TOG) Program. Initially, the TOG program was met with some resistance from the front of house staff.  They felt that the program was another monotonous program whereby the dining room managers preach F&B mechanics to them for what seemed like hours.  Upon the staff’s recommendation, I changed the program’s delivery and made it involve the servers and bartenders more than the dining room managers.

In this new delivery, the servers studied a pre-determined module and then they were charged with presenting it to the rest of the staff.  This was the key to making the program work.  Now, servers would become teachers and would instruct their “class” in the pre-shift meetings.  There was no way to avoid having to teach a module as we required busboys, hostesses, servers and bartenders alike to instruct a class twice a month.

At first, the restaurant staff was enthralled by the alcoholic beverage information, especially the histories of liquors and wines.  This is the easiest part to teach because the 18-24 year olds seem to have an interest in learning about alcohol.  After they taught the beverage portion, we focused on foods and specifically our restaurant’s menu.  With the help of our chef, we were able to discuss the history of our menu choices, which wines would complement which entrees, and how to sell the daily features.  After the beverage and food modules were taught, we moved on to other important issues such as the steps of service, flow of the dining room, recovery techniques, etc. In the end, 94 modules were taught over a 16-month period.  Some of the more important modules were repeated.  After completing the modules in order, we have now begun to teach them in random order and allowing the staff to choose the module they wish to teach.

Once the TOG program was instituted and the bugs were worked out, several amazing things happened in our restaurant.  The first noticeable change was in the demeanor and confidence of the front of house staff.  Almost instantly, they became more comfortable discussing foods and beverages with members and guests and with making recommendations. Their newly gained knowledge of the preparations and histories of the food and beverages helped them to become more confident in their ability to answer members’ questions.  They looked forward to being asked about the history or preparation of certain items and the social interaction that was created when these questions were asked.

The second noticeable change was that our front of house staff turnover rate declined.  Our servers enjoyed coming to work and were not as apt to move on to another restaurant opportunity.  The restaurant staff felt more a part of the club and they enjoyed getting to know members more personally through their social interaction.  The staff no longer felt they were ‘going through the motions while waiting for the next new restaurant to open in the area.’

The third and most noticeable change was in the number of appetizers, desserts, and after-dinner drinks sold during the dinner shifts.  Just by gaining knowledge of these items, servers were able to discuss daily specials, suggestively sell at every table they were working.  The increase in the a la carte average check was immediate.  The servers’ confidence created an aura of professionalism and also caused a competitive nature in the restaurant.  Personal bets were being made to see who could up-sell the most wine or desserts.  Managers started offering a complimentary dessert to the server who sold the most after-dinner drinks.  The front of house staff loved the competition and it drove our sales to levels not seen in the past.  Of course, revenues followed.

To answer the question in the title of this article; “Is the TOG program a direct line to restaurant profits?” I offer the following evidence:

At the start of implementation, the club’s restaurant was experiencing a four-year decline in a la carte business.  This decline was, at the time, blamed on the poor economy before and after September 11th and a declining membership level.  In hindsight, these were only excuses for a more prominent problem.

Although the club’s membership level was declining, the average food and beverage revenue per member was holding steady at the 5-year average and the cover counts did not show a decline either.  Therefore, members were using the restaurant at a consistent rate in 1999, 2000, and 2001 up until 9/11.  What we noticed when looking at the revenue data was that the average check per member had declined drastically.  The data told us that members were continuing to dine in the restaurant at a steady rate, but they were spending less on each visit.  Our a la carte menu prices had not fluctuated during this period, so it led me to believe that we were doing something different in the dining room or, as I found out later, we were not doing some things that we had done in the past.

The TOG program was started in October of 2001.  Almost immediately, the average check increased and the number of appetizers and desserts increased as well.  Soon after, our alcoholic beverage sales increased, especially wine by the bottle, which shot up 200%.   In 2002, the program really took off.  By the spring of 2002, the up-selling competitions had begun and revenue increases were seen in appetizers, daily specials, desserts, after-dinner drinks, wine by the bottle and wine by the glass. For the 2002 year, the average F&B revenue per member increased 15% to $62.78 per month.  The trend continued in 2003 with revenues continuing to increase in 2004.  It is without question that implementing the Training on the Go program has had and continues to have a direct positive effect of restaurant revenues at the Peninsula Yacht Club.  If you think this program could help your club, visit the Hospitality Resources International website and download the TOG program.  It is a sure fire way to increase your restaurant’s revenues.

Blog written by:  Chris Conner, former General Manager, Peninsula Yacht Club; current COO/GM Cullasaja Club

Click here for individual topics of the food and beverage Training on the Go materials.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Guest Blog: Training on the Go – A Direct Line to Food Service Profits

Monday, May 25th, 2015

Several years ago, the Peninsula Yacht Club was selected to be the club to implement the Hospitality Resources International Training on the Go (TOG) Program. Initially, the TOG program was met with some resistance from the front of house staff.  They felt that the program was another monotonous program whereby the dining room managers preach F&B mechanics to them for what seemed like hours.  Upon the staff’s recommendation, I changed the program’s delivery and made it involve the servers and bartenders more than the dining room managers.

In this new delivery, the servers studied a pre-determined module and then they were charged with presenting it to the rest of the staff.  This was the key to making the program work.  Now, servers would become teachers and would instruct their “class” in the pre-shift meetings.  There was no way to avoid having to teach a module as we required busboys, hostesses, servers and bartenders alike to instruct a class twice a month.

At first, the restaurant staff was enthralled by the alcoholic beverage information, especially the histories of liquors and wines.  This is the easiest part to teach because the 18-24 year olds seem to have an interest in learning about alcohol.  After they taught the beverage portion, we focused on foods and specifically our restaurant’s menu.  With the help of our chef, we were able to discuss the history of our menu choices, which wines would complement which entrees, and how to sell the daily features.  After the beverage and food modules were taught, we moved on to other important issues such as the steps of service, flow of the dining room, recovery techniques, etc. In the end, 94 modules were taught over a 16-month period.  Some of the more important modules were repeated.  After completing the modules in order, we have now begun to teach them in random order and allowing the staff to choose the module they wish to teach.

Once the TOG program was instituted and the bugs were worked out, several amazing things happened in our restaurant.  The first noticeable change was in the demeanor and confidence of the front of house staff.  Almost instantly, they became more comfortable discussing foods and beverages with members and guests and with making recommendations. Their newly gained knowledge of the preparations and histories of the food and beverages helped them to become more confident in their ability to answer members’ questions.  They looked forward to being asked about the history or preparation of certain items and the social interaction that was created when these questions were asked.

The second noticeable change was that our front of house staff turnover rate declined.  Our servers enjoyed coming to work and were not as apt to move on to another restaurant opportunity.  The restaurant staff felt more a part of the club and they enjoyed getting to know members more personally through their social interaction.  The staff no longer felt they were ‘going through the motions while waiting for the next new restaurant to open in the area.’

The third and most noticeable change was in the number of appetizers, desserts, and after-dinner drinks sold during the dinner shifts.  Just by gaining knowledge of these items, servers were able to discuss daily specials, suggestively sell at every table they were working.  The increase in the a la carte average check was immediate.  The servers’ confidence created an aura of professionalism and also caused a competitive nature in the restaurant.  Personal bets were being made to see who could up-sell the most wine or desserts.  Managers started offering a complimentary dessert to the server who sold the most after-dinner drinks.  The front of house staff loved the competition and it drove our sales to levels not seen in the past.  Of course, revenues followed.

To answer the question in the title of this article; “Is the TOG program a direct line to restaurant profits?” I offer the following evidence:

At the start of implementation, the club’s restaurant was experiencing a four-year decline in a la carte business.  This decline was, at the time, blamed on the poor economy before and after September 11th and a declining membership level.  In hindsight, these were only excuses for a more prominent problem.

Although the club’s membership level was declining, the average food and beverage revenue per member was holding steady at the 5-year average and the cover counts did not show a decline either.  Therefore, members were using the restaurant at a consistent rate in 1999, 2000, and 2001 up until 9/11.  What we noticed when looking at the revenue data was that the average check per member had declined drastically.  The data told us that members were continuing to dine in the restaurant at a steady rate, but they were spending less on each visit.  Our a la carte menu prices had not fluctuated during this period, so it led me to believe that we were doing something different in the dining room or, as I found out later, we were not doing some things that we had done in the past.

The TOG program was started in October of 2001.  Almost immediately, the average check increased and the number of appetizers and desserts increased as well.  Soon after, our alcoholic beverage sales increased, especially wine by the bottle, which shot up 200%.   In 2002, the program really took off.  By the spring of 2002, the up-selling competitions had begun and revenue increases were seen in appetizers, daily specials, desserts, after-dinner drinks, wine by the bottle and wine by the glass. For the 2002 year, the average F&B revenue per member increased 15% to $62.78 per month.  The trend continued in 2003 with revenues continuing to increase in 2004.  It is without question that implementing the Training on the Go program has had and continues to have a direct positive effect of restaurant revenues at the Peninsula Yacht Club.  If you think this program could help your club, visit the Hospitality Resources International website and download the TOG program.  It is a sure fire way to increase your restaurant’s revenues.

Article written by Chris Conner, formerly General Manager, Peninsula Yacht Club

A number of Training on the Go courses are available on the HRI store.  They can be previewed here.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Logical Conclusion

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Club managers and department heads (the various enterprise leaders) face many obstacles in attempting to provide a quality club experience with the highest possible levels of service for members and their guests.  Overcoming these hurdles, described in Ten Challenges to Operating a Private Club, requires a great deal of focus and discipline, yet the basic premise of how to overcome these challenges can be summed up by the need for unimpeded communication and consistent training.

This conclusion can be logically determined from the following statements:

1.   Club operations are labor-intensive – it takes a lot of people doing all the right things in their various positions to meet quality and service expectations.

2.   Each set of departmental responsibilities encompasses a vast amount of detail, much of it basic and routine, which must be attended to daily.

3.   While the standards, policies, procedures, and service practices to operate individual departments within the club are well-known to the professional leaders of those enterprises, these must be integrated into the larger vision of club operations.

4.   This integration requires the vision, values, and clearly-defined expectations of the overall executive – the club general manager.

5.   The vision, values, and expectations must then be communicated correctly and consistently through the intervening layers of managers and supervisors to the front line employees who both create quality and deliver service with their daily efforts.

6.   Conversely, the feedback from front line employees, who know better than anyone what works and doesn’t work and who, if encouraged, have the most realistic ideas of how to improve the operation at the level of member contact, must be communicated back to and through their supervisors and managers to department heads, and ultimately the general manager.

7.   Such communication throughout the organization can only work if there are no impediments to the flow of information such as moody, aloof, or uncommunicative managers or by managers who do not inherently understand that a leader’s role is service to employees – to provide them with the tools, training, resources, daily engagement, leadership, and example to do their jobs properly and with enthusiasm.

8.   Anything that impedes this two-way open flow of communication blunts all efforts to achieve quality and deliver service.

9.   Since managers and employees come and go with some frequency, the only way to ensure that each employee learns the details and nuances of their positions is to train them thoroughly.

10. Training material flows naturally from the club’s vision, values, expectations, standards, policies, and procedures, as well as various legal and liability issues, safety and public health necessities, and departmental service practices.  Consistent training requires that these concepts and materials be in writing regardless of the ultimate media or methods used for instruction.  To do otherwise is to operate from easily-corruptible and ever-changing oral tradition.

The Logical Conclusion:  Because quality and service are both detail- and people-intensive, a large number of employees must know what to do in all situations. Such complexity can only be mastered through unimpeded communication and consistent training.  Unimpeded communication flows naturally from service-based leaders, while written values, expectations, standards, policies, and procedures ensures the consistency of training.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Guest Blog: Learning Experiences

Monday, December 8th, 2014
Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

Don Vance, CCM, CPC Chief Operating Officer General Manager Hound Ears Club

One of my favorite coffee-mug witticisms says that “Everyone is entitled to be stupid from time to time—but some abuse the privilege more than others.”  As club managers, we have all been exasperated by employees to whom this seems to apply, and are often inclined to just write them off as hopeless.

But as Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”  Many times, by taking a closer, more introspective look, we discover that these “hopeless causes” really reflect inherent problems within our own organizations, often caused by our own less-than-brilliant performance as managers.

We all know there’s a need for ongoing training and development of our employees.  But too often, we get distracted by the day-to-day details of our operations.  To be effective, training must be viewed as a “department,” in the same sense as F&B, golf operations or course maintenance.  Accordingly, GMs and department heads must devote as much time to their roles as “Chief Learning Officers” as they do to being clubhouse managers, golf pros or superintendents.

At the same time, we also need to constantly remind and show our employees that training is a two-way street.  A few years ago, I had a sous-chef come and tell me he was leaving, because he felt he was no longer learning anything in his job.  I asked him what his learning expectations were, and he explained that while he wanted to be an executive chef someday, he felt our current head chef didn’t want to teach him.

I explained to this employee that it was incumbent on him, as much as on his supervisor, to develop his skill sets and position himself to move up.  When I asked him what he had done lately on his own to learn, he was silent.  I challenged him to take more upon himself to advance his culinary education, and told him I would pay for any books that he wanted to purchase, or online training that he might want to pursue.  I also gave him an allowance to take approved management classes.

This employee decided to stay and pursue a “self-directed” learning program in this fashion.  About two years later, our executive chef left, and he earned a promotion to replace him.

School as a Stool

As this example shows, training works best when everyone is involved and committed, from ownership to management and down through the employee ranks.  When all legs of the stool are properly balanced in this fashion, everyone benefits—the organization and management because employees become more skilled, and the employees themselves because they can expand their careers, make connections and find new purpose and motivation in their lives.

If you’re not sure if your efforts are on target from all of these perspectives, a “training needs analysis” can prove to be a very beneficial exercise.  After all, “If we don’t know what road to take, then any road will take us there.”  This analysis can be conducted by the most qualified trainers from within your organization, or you can hire outside talent to come in and evaluate, structure and teach your programs.

Here, too, it can be very beneficial to get employees involved in the process.  Have some of your lead employees work with management to develop training action plans and set clear objectives.  Then firm up the entire process by holding group employee meetings before any training begins, so managers and employees can agree and understand the expectations of the programs.  Too often, we teach without completely explaining why, or what, we are teaching.

Once training efforts are underway, it’s equally critical to make sure they are kept current and innovative.  Are you still using the same employee training handbook you created (or most likely, plagiarized) from a prior operation?  Is your training program truly specific to the needs of your current operation?  Are you teaching your employees the very latest techniques for their jobs?

A good barometer for honest insight into where you are with training is employee turnover.  Like the sous-chef who came to me, a key contributing factor to why many employees leave is when they are not properly trained and therefore feel confused, frustrated, threatened or just unsure about their ability to contribute to the operation.

Valuable History Lessons

In the club and resort business, a well thought-out training plan should also include teaching the history and culture of your property.  It’s easy to overlook this critical part of training as we rush to get to the details of service techniques, but the two are closely related.  By focusing on how members and guests have come to perceive our operations and expect certain levels of service, “culture training” will properly orient employees to “the way it has always been”—and must continue to be.

Remember, too, that while many people like to learn by “doing” or from experience, others learn best “by the book.”  What’s really needed is a balance of both.  While every training program should be formalized enough to include written training plans, handbooks and a classroom setting, my advice would also be to not paralyze it by making it too cumbersome with “book learning.”  Instead, be sure to also include a full dose of interactive and “on the job” education.

I learned this from personal experience a few years ago, when my F&B Director came to me and expressed concern that we were losing qualified employees during the training process.  This prompted us to analyze our entire training program, and we soon saw that it was too formal and intimidating.

We took our four-inch training handbook, removed chapters, and restructured the plan so we would present specific areas of training one at a time, as opposed to the entire book all at once. This had a noticeably positive effect on the success of our training— and led to an equally noticeable reduction in employee turnover.

Article written by: Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

What to Do About Training

Monday, September 15th, 2014

In a number of articles I’ve enumerated the challenges that standalone operations have in designing and implementing the robust and consistent training programs necessary to enhance organizational effectiveness and customer/guest/member service.  While most operations focus their training efforts on line employees, I have long advocated the need for manager and supervisory training in all areas.  As agents of the enterprise, these individuals can do far more harm unless well-schooled in leadership, business disciplines, and legal and liability issues.

While there is no doubt that the challenges to comprehensive training are significant, the ramifications of weak, inconsistent training are even more significant in that they impact performance at every level and area of the operation – and may ultimately prove to be a threat to the enterprise’s very existence.

Despite its critical nature, there always seem to be reasons not to train.  Often the biggest obstacle to formal training programs is cost – as every hour of training is an hour of payroll.  But as I’ve said before, there is a lot of wasted time in every operation, so the real issue is one of organization and the “will to make it happen.”

So what is a General Manager to do, should he or she want to institute a formal system of comprehensive training?  Here are four basic requirements:

  • Identify needs.  While every operation may have specific needs, Training Requirements for Hospitality Operations lays out the general types of necessary training.
  • Develop a training plan.  One organization’s first pass at a plan can be found on the Hospitality Resources International website under Operations>Resources>White Papers.  Certainly this can be used as a basis to develop your own plan.
  • Establish priorities.  As usual, go for the “low-hanging fruit” – those that are easiest to implement.  You might even use one department as the testing ground for others before full implementation.
  • Use “on the go” training.  The use of ongoing, short training topics will help keep the cost of training down, while providing constant reminders of important issues, best practices, and service techniques.  Hospitality Resources International has pioneered the concept of “on the go” training and has developed materials for Organizational Values, Leadership, Human Resources, Accounting, Employee Development and Discipline, Service, Management Disciplines, Food Service Management, and Safety.  Others are under development for Golf Management and F&B Knowledge.  These can be purchased from the HRI Marketplace and provide a proven method of training.

Surveying the needs of setting up formal training program, you realize it’s a lot of work.  But much of it has already been done for you, so no need to reinvent the wheel.  Should you decide to develop your own materials; the above mentioned modules provide a powerful example of how it can be done.

Lastly, I would suggest the concept of “incremental progress” to guide your training development.  You don’t have to do everything at once.  Make it a multi-year goal; assign tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.  Make a little progress each week while keeping your eye on the end result.  Each step forward will bring incremental improvements.  In time you’ll be amazed at the results!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Why is Training so Challenging for Clubs?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Recognizing that we work in a detail-intensive business, most club managers understand that comprehensive and systematic training for both subordinate managers and line employees is an imperative.  Yet, the sad fact is that training is an afterthought in many operations, left up to department heads or front line supervisors to conceive, design, and implement.

Why is this so often the case?  I offer the following as some of the factors that make training so difficult for all of us:

  • First, is the standalone nature of most clubs.  Busy managers have little time and, in some cases, lack the necessary skill set to design a comprehensive training curriculum for employees.
  • Complicating this is the fact that club operations span many disciplines, including accounting, human resources, marketing, member relations, golf operations, food and beverage, aquatics, golf course maintenance, and other areas. Few, managers have the detailed knowledge of all these disciplines to design the well-integrated systems, policies, and procedures that cover all areas of the operation.
  • The general manager and management staff have not formally defined the standards of quality and service they wish to provide the membership. Without formal standards, how do they determine their training needs?
  • Given the many positions inherent in club operations, there is the need to develop a curriculum for each position to provide employees the appropriate skill set.  This is a daunting task, though focusing on critical member-facing positions is the first step.
  • In addition to individual skills training, employees must be trained in the club culture and values; laws affecting the workplace; employee work rules and policies; liability abatement training such as safety, sanitation, and public health; human resource issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, conduct, and performance criteria; accounting policies and procedures relating to their work such as point of sale training, inventory procedures, and timekeeping; and all the club’s various organizational systems that allow it to function efficiently.
  • Managers at all levels must be trained in a variety of disciplines including leadership; club culture and values; various laws affecting club operations; club systems; accounting standards, policies, and procedures; human resource standards, policies, and procedures — to name a few.
  • Few clubs have a comprehensive training plan that guides subordinate managers in training standards, responsibilities, budgets, resources, and necessary curricula.
  • There is no easy way for the general manager to monitor training execution due to the lack in most clubs of training administration software and training benchmarks. Short of attending each training session, how does the GM know who is training and meeting the ongoing requirements of a multi-faceted curriculum.
  • In times of tight budgets (and when is it ever not such a time?), the cost of every hour of training is multiplied by the number of employees being trained and their hourly wage — and this can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
  • The management staff does not have the will to make it happen given all the other management requirements, demands on their time, and competing priorities.
  • The club’s board, while demanding high service levels, does not understand the direct link between formal training and quality service or, even more importantly, the challenging task of designing and implementing an effective club-wide training program. In many cases, the general manager has not developed the training goals, assessments, plan, proposed budget, and “sold” the board on its necessity.

The bottom line on all these issues is that unless focused on and attended to religiously, they fall through the cracks.  While the training requirements of a well-run operation seem overwhelming, they can be effectively implemented with leadership, the “will to make it happen,” organizational structure, and management discipline.  Without these, quality and high levels of performance will be forever be an elusive dream.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

The Pre-Shift Meeting

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Some ask the question, “Is a pre-shift meeting really necessary?”  Compare a pre-shift meeting with the habits of professional athletes, whose jobs require peak performance, both individually and as a team, in an environment where “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”  Without fail, these athletes huddle for a few moments before every game to remind themselves of their commitment to each other and their mission to win.  In the service business the game is every day, every shift, and the need for success is just as important.  So yes, a pre-shift meeting is an absolute necessity for every department, but particularly in the food and beverage operation.

Here are some of the things that should be covered in a food and beverage pre-shift meeting:

  • Proper Dress and Grooming.  Is everyone in proper dress or uniform?  Do they have the right footwear and their nametags?  Does everyone meet the organization’s grooming standards?  These basic standards are critical to a professional operation.  What gets checked gets done!
  • Reservations.  Who’s coming in for dinner tonight?  Do we know their likes, dislikes, and preferences?  Have they made any special requests?  Is it a celebratory occasion?  For private club employees, double check the member database and see the meal could be for a birthday or anniversary?
  • Special Parties.  Are there special parties scheduled for tonight in the dining room?  Have they made any special requests?  Do they have a limited or set menu?
  • Daily Specials.  What are tonight’s specials?  Go over the Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, for those items.  Will the chef do a tasting and explain items and recipes?  Cover any wine pairings with specials.  Are there special appetizers, desserts, specialty drinks, wines by the glass, wines by the bottle?  Review pricing for these, which POS key to ring them on, and discuss suggestions for how to upsell.
  • Review Pronunciation of any unfamiliar or foreign food terms or product names.
  • Upcoming Events.  Review details of events such as Sunday Brunch, Fine Dining Nights, Wine Tastings, Luau at the pool, etc., so that servers can provide information and promote to diners if asked.
  • Review Daily Sales Targets so everyone knows if the operation’s on track to meet budget.  Review any ongoing contests or sales incentives.
  • Kudos, Recognition, and Complaints.  Review any positive feedback to celebrate success and extraordinary service by individual servers.  Cover any complaints received with lessons learned or to brainstorm solutions.
  • Membership Familiarization for Private Clubs.  Short, ongoing review of members, their preferences, special occasions.  Show pictures, if available.  If member data is reviewed incrementally each day, over time servers will have a greater familiarity with the full membership.  In particular, cover information on new members.
  • Basic Service Focus.  Cover any particular items servers should focus on such as getting member numbers on charge slips, quick pick up of hot items from the line, not overstacking the dishwash station, etc.  By focusing on one basic item each day, servers are continually reminded of the basics of our business.
  • Questions, Comments, Feedback.  Servers should always be made to feel comfortable in asking questions, making suggestions, and providing feedback from their serving experiences.

The pre-shift meeting is an essential discipline in meeting standards, ongoing training of staff, and reviewing dining options.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go, Hospitality Resources International

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Using Notable Quotables to Train and Remind

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

There are many things to teach your staff – both managers and line employees . . . and there are many ways to do it.  Given the high cost and difficulty of bringing in employees just for training sessions, I’ve always been an advocate of what I call on-the-go training – training material formatted in short doses that can be pulled out any time there are spare moments in a shift.

I am also a big believer in constant reinforcement of key training material such as organizational values and service ethic.  Another major training objective is to get all the management team on the same page, particularly when it comes to leadership and club culture.  This is accomplished by ongoing discussion of key objectives, values, leadership techniques, and the nuances of service and service delivery.  Such discussions routinely take place at weekly manager meetings, during reviews of assigned leadership and management reading materials, during departmental and pre-shift meetings, and by posting quotes on bulletin boards in employee areas of the club.

This last technique is particularly cost-effective in that it costs little to find, format, print out, and post your favorite quotes for all employees to see.  You can also use the quotes as envelope stuffers for employee paychecks (though this is not as effective if you offer direct deposit for your employees).

The beauty of quotes is that they carry the gravitas of the well-known person or expert quoted and are usually short and highly memorable.  Even in a meeting setting they provide food for thought and can be used to start discussions to explore the deeper meanings and importance of the topic.

In an effort to make it easy for club managers to harness the power of notable quotes, Club Resources International has compiled over 400 quotes, categorized under the headings of leadership, management disciplines, service, and values – and they are absolutely FREE.  You can find them on the website under Training Resources>Notable Quotables or here.

You can then click on the major topic folder you want.  When you do this, you’ll find an easy reference index to locate just the quote you want.  Then click on the desired quote file, save it to your hard disk, print it out, and used it to train and reinforce.  Nothing could be simpler or more effective for NO COST!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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