Concepts for Success: July 2011

Diane Chiasson
June 30, 2011
Written by Diane Chiasson
Proper training turns a promising new employee into an exceptional ambassador for your brand

Confident employees can turn one-time visitors into loyal customers. Properly training new hires fosters that confidence, transforming them into brand ambassadors. Teaching employees takes time and patience. It is a privilege and a big responsibility. Training them well may mean the difference between hiring a new team member who stays with your operation for the long term and hiring one who quits after a few months. Try out these nine ideas for building brand ambassadors.

Put together a training manual
One of the most important tools for new employees is a proper training manual that every employee abides by. Your customers expect to eat the exact same baked goods and receive the exact same service each time they come into your operation. The manual should contain information about uniforms, break times, set up and clean up, the specific responsibilities of each job in the bakery, handling difficult customers, coupons and promotions, and any other information that employees may need to refer back to. If you are unsure of how to assemble a good training manual, look online for templates or hire a consultant to help you.

Homework for new hires
Give your employees paperwork they can study at home. You can train them verbally, but 90 per cent of what you tell them will go in one ear and right out the other. It can be quite overwhelming to start a new job, so giving your employees some homework allows them to learn your operation on their own time.

Develop a training manual with information about uniforms, duties, breaks, customer service and any other information employees need to know.

Give a proper tour
Never have the attitude that a new employee should start working and figure things out along the way. Make sure that each new employee is given a full tour of your entire operation. Explain how each area of your bakery is set up and why.

Explain equipment and safety
Show your employees how to operate each piece of equipment safely and allow them to practise while you watch. You can tell a person how to do something, but the only way they will learn is with hands-on practice.

Give a proper introduction
It can be quite intimidating to start a new job where all the other employees are friendly with each other. Introduce your new hire to every single person in your operation, and make your new employee feel welcome.

Get to know your new employee
Sit down with your new employee for lunch or a drink, and talk to them in an informal setting. Tell him or her something personal about yourself, and give some history to your operation. Tell your new employee about your Christmas parties or other staff events to show him or her that your operation is a fun place to work.

Introduce employees to your food
Make sure your new hires try every single item in your store. They should also learn all the add-ons, preparation, ingredients and prices of each item.

Don’t leave the job up to others
Many owners and operators leave training up to their best employee. It’s easy to have your new hire shadow your top person by following him or her around for a few shifts to see how things work. This isn’t a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be the only training your new employee receives. Your top employee may be passing on bad habits or gossip about other staff members. He or she may also be resentful of having a shadow and fail to do proper job training. If you do use the shadowing method, keep a close eye on what is happening. Sit down with your new employee at the end of the shift to go over things.

Give a performance review
A few weeks after your new employee has been given the green light to work on his or her own, conduct a performance review. If they are doing a good job, you need to let them know in order to help build confidence and attitude. If they are making a few mistakes, you need to point these out immediately. In fact, it is important to give monthly or bi-monthly performance reviews for all your employees. If you leave them to their own devices for too long, you may lose control of your operation to your staff.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit .

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