Employees are assets. We invest in them and expect a return on that investment. I depreciate them, too. This may seem like an unusual way to approach employee management, but it works.
Dedicate 1% of gross sales to training
Like all assets, human assets need to be properly cared for. Therefore, a defined dollar amount -- I believe in 1% of gross sales -- should be figured into your budget for training and retraining. This amount should be listed separately and in addition to your budget for Wages & Benefits. It should be split 50/50 between new hire training and existing employee re-training. In other words, a one million dollar restaurant should invest $10,000 in training and re-training.
How you classify training expenses isn't necessarily a problem, unless you have a management incentive program based on hitting Net Operating Income goals. If training costs are deducted from the amount used to calculate a manager's bonus at the end of the month, you can bet that they'll cut back on training to reduce costs and maximize Net Operating Income.
My recommendation is to award bonuses based on Net Operating Profit — the dollar amount with the training costs, or "human depreciation," added back in. This will encourage managers to use the full training budget. We add back depreciation for other assets. Training should be no different.
Make sure your investment pays off
Don't throw money into an ineffective training program that doesn't work. You might as well wash it down the drain. Make sure your training program is:
- Interactive — The best way to ensure that your training is retained is to use a variety of training techniques. Role plays, demonstrations, group activities, and computer-based training should be combined for a five-star training program.
- Systemized — Use a sequential training approach that mirrors the guest dining experience. Read Connect the Dots to learn about the Sequence of Service training model.
- Modeled After Good Behavior — Employees can only deliver a level of service they've experienced themselves. Read Are You Being Served for a great way to get the most out of your service team.
- Ongoing — Once the basic skills are covered, there's lots to teach employees. You can even use our weekly Trade Secrets as a basis for ongoing training of all levels of employees (a.k.a. re-training). Print them out, share them during a pre-shift briefing, and implement some of the tools and systems as a team. This adds professionalism to the job, something all employees are looking for.
Bill Main is a nationally-recognized author, consultant and speaker. His company, Bill Main & Associates, specializes in strategic growth plans for foodservice entrepreneurs. For information on how you can grow your top line revenues through innovative marketing, menu, leadership and training systems, visit www.billmain.com.