Four Effective Ways to Train Your Catering Staff

In some of my previous blogs, I touched upon the growing need for training in the catering industry. We also looked at certain skillsets and processes that catering managers need to be groomed and trained on. With millennials and Gen Z forming a huge chunk of the catering industry’s employee-base and the high turnover rate that is generally prevalent here, training has never been more relevant. This makes a good case to look at some of the most efficient ways to train your catering staff and enable them to provide outstanding guest experience.

  1. Micro-Learning

Micro-learning is now a pervasive trend, in almost all walks of our digital life. It goes without saying that it is an effective method to train your catering staff as well. Micro-learning is on-demand, delivered at the point-of-need, and highly relevant because the employee is concentering on one skill/learning objective at a time rather than worrying about the entire curriculum.  For example – Instead of a long course on how to serve food to the customer, your staff will enjoy consuming small micro-learning nuggets on how to set up the table or how to serve wine when they need to learn about them.

  1. Scenario-Based Learning

Use of scenarios based on real-life situations is a very useful training mechanism. Scenarios can help learners to understand the best way to handle a situation. Training can be made more interactive by the use of branching scenarios where there could be different results to a situation based on the learner’s response.  Scenario-based training is the ideal mechanism to train staff on soft skills. For example, a scenario on how to handle an irate customer or how to greet a customer can enable employees to be prepared with the relevant skills when the real-life instance occurs.

  1. Game-Based Learning

Use of game elements in learning enhances the learning experience, makes it fun, and also gives the learner a sense of challenge and achievement.  Leaderboards, time-based quizzes, time-driven missions are some of the common mechanisms used in game-based learning.  For example, a time-bound, game-based module that requires the learners to finish setting up 10 tables flawlessly, and get on the leaderboard, can be a great way to train your employees on relevant skills.

  1. Learning Reinforcement

Catering staff deals with customers on a regular basis and it is important to find ways to reinforce the training. Tools like learning enforcement apps, flash-cards, interim knowledge checks, and standup meetings are an effective method to reinforce training.

These different training modalities are an effective way to train your staff members and keep them motivated.  I would be keen to know of any other approaches that you use to ensure your staff is trained well. Share your comments below or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com

Role of Training in Catering Leadership Development

In a previous blog, we explored the exponential growth in the catering industry and the reasons supporting this growth.  A growing industry needs to support their leaders with targeted training to help them in meeting customer expectations and deliver outstanding service. In the catering industry, catering managers are the flag-bearers of the restaurant brand and it is critical to align them with the brand culture and values. This would help in establishing the brand with their crew and eventually with the customers. To achieve this, it is important to groom and train catering managers in certain skillsets and processes. Let’s look at them below:

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are a key attribute of successful catering managers. Catering industry has a high level of employee turnover and catering managers have to deal with new employees all the time.  It is essential that managers break the ice with employees and get them onboard and ready to perform quickly. Catering managers should be trained in skills like verbal and non-verbal communication, influencing and negotiation skills, and more.

Customer Centricity

Catering managers face customers on an everyday basis and customer centricity becomes a critical skill for restaurant survival and performance.  A manager trained on skills like understanding customer needs, customer behavior, effective communication, and empathy, would work towards building a customer-centric culture. Such a manager and their crew would be able to handle catering events better and deliver exceptional customer delight.

Catering Specific Processes

A catering event is a high-pressure situation with a lot of moving parts. Lack of processes can lead to chaos and bad customer experience.   Catering managers should be able to estimate the right number of crew members to an event.  They also need to keep a close watch on the budget and perform a detailed risk management analysis to make an event successful.

Considering all the above requirements, it is ideal that catering managers are trained to plan activities smartly, follow specific processes, and most importantly, they should be able to take quick decisions. Considering the nature of this industry, a blended learning approach would suit the best. Use of classroom training to deliver key topics, supported by online learning modules supporting micro-learning, gamification, and scenario-based learning can deliver the desired results.

Are you a part of the catering industry? What type of training do you prefer? Feel free to share your thoughts through comments below. If you would like to discuss any training needs or use cases with our experts, drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Catering Industry – Growing by Leaps and Bounds, and Sustaining Beyond

Catering industry in the United States has grown at an exponential rate in the last decade. In 2017, catering accounted for 11% of the foodservice industry sales with revenue of $12 bn. Caterers have introduced newer menu items and are providing a wider range of services than before to meet the increasing client expectations. Households and businesses are hosting more catered events, and as per projections, the catering industry will continue to flourish at a rate of 5-6% through 2019, as compared to a much lower, 1.8% growth rate from 2013-2018.  Many big restaurant brands have also started exploring catering as a revenue generation option.

So, what is factoring this tremendous growth? Here is what I think:

  1. Increasing Reach of Technology – For the first time in the history of food service, the power of ordering is literally in the hands of consumers.  This acts as a direct link between consumers and operations and speeds up the entire transaction cycle. Mobile technology has made it easier for customers to reach out to caterers through a couple of clicks.
  1. Healthy Consumer Spending – Statistics show that the average catering order value has increased by 65% in the last one year. This considerable growth has been aided by increased consumer spending and corporate profits. More and more households and businesses are expected to host catered events and opt for contractual meals for parties, weddings luncheons, schools, hospitals, and trade shows. Caterers relieve them of the worry of running the meal program, and they are free to focus on their core event or program.
  1. Rise in Catering Avenues- Catering avenues have diversified significantly over the past couple of years. Apart from the traditional event catering, newer forms of catering like mobile catering, boxed lunch catering for businesses, airline and rail catering are on a rise. Full-service catering companies that provide room decorations, lighting and table settings, along with food, are being sought by many consumers. With so many channels available for catering, it is only natural that the industry is growing significantly and will continue to do so.
  1. Better Packaging – Improved packaging technology like temperature control containers make sure that the food you receive as a boxed meal, or consume at an event, tastes and looks as good as at a restaurant and does not spoil. This is a lucrative proposition for consumers who want their guests or customers to enjoy fresh and good quality food without worrying about cooking or maintaining it.

The exceptional growth in the catering industry is commendable. It has paved the way for new job roles, processes and responsibilities.  It is crucial that you set the right standard for all stakeholders involved including third-party delivery partners, to support the growth in your consumer base and services. This requires training your employees and partners on the ins and outs of your brand, how you want your food to be packaged, how you want it to be delivered, etc.

I shall expand more on the role of training in catering leadership development in my next blog. Stay tuned, and feel free to share your thoughts below.