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.

Can Flipped eLearning be Effective for Continuing Medical Education?

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Are you a Continuing Medical Education (CME) provider constantly on the lookout for ways to create value for medical practitioners through your education programs? Since these are already practicing physicians with long and unpredictable working hours, it is quite challenging to cater to their learning requirements. In this blog, we shall look at the flipped eLearning model as a potential way to make the CME experience more appealing for the medical community. This model is being effectively used by some of our customers for quite some time now. It prioritizes assessments over content unlike the typical eLearning model where content comes before assessments. Since these providers are dealing with learners who are practicing physicians and already know their stuff, the idea is to focus on reinforcement and not introducing new content. Hence the flipped eLearning model could help.

 

The flipped eLearning model thrives on the belief that assessments are more reflective of what the physicians are doing in practice, and can incentivize them to learn new things. In this model, short assessment nuggets can be used as the first point to engage the practitioners. These nuggets that can typically be completed in 2-5 minutes can be aimed at assessing their knowledge on particular subjects. Once the practitioners attempt them, the nugget can then teach them the required lessons through feedback. This enables practitioners to be more receptive of the learning module. In case they have answered the assessment question correctly, they are keen to explore further on the subject. In case the answer is wrong, they are keen to know the right option. In both the cases, they are more receptive to learning. And since this learning doesn’t demand much time out of their busy schedules, they are happy to undertake it.

 

The use of assessments to gauge actual knowledge and then enhance it, also calls for using advanced methods to evaluate, rather than just multiple choice questions. Explorative and immersive assessments, simulated operations on virtual patients, allow for more in-depth exploration of the assessment questions. Automated scoring and tracking could make this flipped eLearning model more useful, since the providers can assess the physician progress from time to time and direct the learning modules as per individual needs.

 

What are your thoughts on using this flipped eLearning model? Do you think it could have a positive impact on their engagement and reception levels? We would love to hear from you.

From Instructional Design to Experience Design – The Corporate Learning Paradigm Shift

Corporate Learning

The evolution of technology in corporate learning has been rapid yet transformative, giving more power to learners at each step. Today, organizations aim at bringing learning to where employees are. It could be on their smartphones, their tablets, laptops, and even on their smart watches. Giving a learner exactly what they want, and where they want, is the only way to win in this disruptive digital landscape. All this calls for solutions that are employee centric. To design such solutions, the focus needs to shift from instructional design to user experience design on a whole.

If you are thinking about what would constitute impactful user experience design, well, for starters, learning and information support systems should be extremely easy and intuitive to use. We are already so accustomed to the Google and YouTube experience in our lives. Say you are seeking a quick tutorial on how to apply an appliqué patch on your denims. Without even wanting to check with the person sitting next to you, you just type in your query on the Google toolbar or the YouTube app on your phone, and there are thousands of results available in a second. There are videos, infographics, articles, and much more. You choose to view based on your reading and watching preference. And if you don’t like what you see, you quickly move to the other results. So quick and easy, Right?

Consider another case, you need a cab, all you need to do is press a search button on your Uber app, and the app shares information on all cabs available nearby, with the estimated wait time as well. Who could have thought of such a technology sorted life, a decade back! Today, all information is available at your fingertips, and the user experience is constantly improving.

We need to design the same experience for corporate learning. But there is a small catch. The corporate learning experience, because of its formal nature, needs to be a lot more controlled; a lot more guided, whilst appearing as independent as it regularly is. Since there is an explosion of video and instructional content over the internet, it is really difficult to filter out the right information for your employees.

Here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

  • Personalize the experience

They key here is to track employees’ digital footprints at the workplace and based on them, guide the employee into an appropriate and personalized learning flow. Every employee’s learning needs and learning style varies from others. Automated systems powered by artificial intelligence can be used to detect what is best suited for an employee. They can be used to act as gatekeepers to filter the right information from the internet to the company intranet.

  • Categorize content

For easy searching, content can be categorized into multiple types   Informative Instructional, Advanced, Compliance Related, etc. These categories may totally depend on the workplace requirement and make it easier for employees to locate the right module or video depending upon their requirement. Uncategorized content will only lead to more confusion and less learning.

  • Specify learning format

Learning formats could be segregated into two types: Macro-learning and Micro-learning.

Micro-learning is just in time, delivered in small, very specific bursts. Two minute videos could be micro-learning. A short game could be micro-learning. Even a small eBook that takes ten minutes to read through could be micro-learning. We, as users, consume this kind of material all day. This could prove handy when an employee wants to learn a quick thing, or read up on a quick policy, Content curated distinctly as micro-learning lets a user know what to expect.

Macro-learning, on the other hand, is something that covers detailed information related to a topic. It comes in handy when an employee wants to learn an entirely new process or function. For instance, it could be all about social media marketing, or automation testing. Macro-learning can be instructor led, or a series of videos and podcasts, or an entire interactive eBook.

  • Enable ratings

When there is abundant information available to be consumed within an organization, it makes sense to learn from other’s experience too. Courses, videos, or other learning objects need to have a provision where employees can rate them. It makes more sense to view a video course with 5 stars on ‘Retargeting’ than a 1 star video. An ‘Effective Sales Strategy’ podcast liked by 50 employees stands a higher chance of being heard than a similar one liked by only 12.

  • Add pre-assessments

Assessments added prior to an important course or module make learning much more controlled and better guided. Such exercises can give a sense of what the employee already knows and what s(he) still needs to learn.

The above steps can ensure that employees can find the information they need wherever they are. Such a design replicates the massive YouTube or Google like learning experience into your corporate learning. The key is to step into the user’s shoes and focus on the user experience design.

Thoughts?

 

Note: This blog has been drafted based on inputs from the following members of Harbinger’s Industrial Advisory Board:

  • Patti Evanosky, Director of Training, Chicken Salad Chick
  • Paul Meek, Director, Solutions Training and Advisory Limited
  • Jayant Kulkarni, Chief of Sales, Harbinger Interactive Learning

Digital Product Training for your Mobile Salesforce

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Effective product training to its salesforce is crucial for any organization’s success and brand value, and this holds true especially for product manufacturing firms. How well a salesforce can deliver the message to existing and prospective customers can make a big difference to its sales figures. But it’s not an easy task, especially when you are constantly innovating and have an extensive range of products, parts and accessories.

 

A lot of training managers at manufacturing companies typically cite product training as one of their key challenge areas. And this is why:

 

  1. Most of the organizations release new products or product updates frequently. Sales representatives keep going on and off the board constantly. It thus becomes a challenge to ensure that they have standardized and up-to-date knowledge on all products at all times.
  2. A lot of times, salesforce is spread across geographically. Also considering that they are often travelling on sales calls, it is a huge task to gather them in one place to attend trainings. It costs in terms of logistics, time invested in travelling and interruption to their work schedule.
  3. Considering the number of trainers involved across multiple locations, maintaining consistent and accurate training content becomes difficult.
  4. Considering multiple product releases and in-turn, their sales collateral, sometimes there is ambiguity on the latest version of such collateral received by the salesforce.

 

All of this could directly impact a company’s bottom line. In the absence of comprehensive, current and easily accessible product knowledge, the sales person could struggle to deliver a smooth pitch about the product, handle customer questions proficiently, recommend right products, gain customer’s trust and essentially get business.

 

A training manager had once asked me, “Then how do we train our salesforce effectively?” My answer to her was “Mobile Learning.” This is the best solution for today’s tech-savvy and mobile salesforce. The various benefits for mobile learning are:

 

For salesforce

  • On-the-go learning via smartphone or tablet, convenient with their schedule and pace
  • Real-time access to current and relevant product knowledge just before or even during customer meetings –leading to ‘Performance Support through Just in Time Learning Solutions’
  • Ability to continuously review completed courses, podcasts and documents
  • Complex product specifications, engineering drawings, installation and servicing information made easy through compelling multimedia content

 

For product manufacturer

  • Better trained, successful and motivated salesforce which can even lead to higher retention
  • Complete control on the training content across multiple locations
  • Boost in training attendance
  • Reduced logistics cost such as hotel or travel expenses
  • Ability to track training attendance, completion and performance
  • Opportunities for increased sales due to strong product knowledge at the point-of-sale

 

While there will always be a place for instructor-led training for some part of it, mobile learning can greatly impact sales through a well-trained sales force, which will always be on top of their game.

 

It would be wonderful to know your thoughts, questions and experiences in the comments section below.