After working in the restaurant industry for over eight years I have worked at several different restaurants and therefore been through several different training programs. My first experience at Macaroni Grill was a short tour, and hour of studying the menu, a short 15 question test, and then I was on the floor. My second restaurant job at BJ's brewery was a little more in depth. About 3 days of classroom study then some food sampling, beer sampling, and of course a test, then on the floor.

It wasn't until my third restaurant job at Claim Jumper that I started to ponder the question, how much is too much training? The restaurant required four days of 2-6pm classroom training where we viewed slides, took several tests, and did some roll play. After those four days we did follow shifts with current employees. Then, a 16 page test. And if we were still around, we started on the floor, in a two table station. After my training class, I noticed only about half of the people actually made it through the program and became servers. At first I thought, well maybe it’s just their way of weeding out the bad seeds early. Then I got the opportunity to be lead trainer and classroom facilitator. I found myself frustrated. Why am I spending my time investing knowledge into these new employees when only 50% (if I am lucky) are actually going to make it through? And If I was frustrated about one training class in one store I started to wonder how much money is wasted on these big corporate restaurants in their training programs? Turnover in restaurants are so high that I find it hard to validate the need for a two-three week training program. How much is too much?

Views: 5

Tags: employee, foh, programs, training


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Randy Caparoso on March 10, 2008 at 10:27am
Oh, and tests: I'm all for it, and lots of them. How else can you find out where anyone is? Tests, though, are not for "weeding" people out. They're for you to identify the areas people need work on so that no one is wasting anyone's time on things they already know. In other words, a matter of efficiency.

"Testing" is also not just something done on paper. It is also needs to be performance -- observing a server or SA at the table, and watching over a cook while he prepares a sauce or dish. Long training periods are indeed ridiculous if people aren't learning anything, but the only way to shorten it or make it efficient is through constant testing .
Comment by Randy Caparoso on March 10, 2008 at 10:18am
Sarah, this is an old post, but I thought some of the old responses did not give a complete picture. So if you will:

First, I'm not a "corporate weenie," although I have worked for a multi-unit restaurant group as well as a prestigous 5 Star/5 Diamond hotel, while opening restaurants (some 30 of them) as a key trainer. How much is "too much" training? My opinion: there is never enough.

I think the worse thing a company can do is put people on the line or on the floor to "learn on the job." Generally speaking, restaurant guests dishing out $20 to over $200 at a time are not into servers or cooks getting good "practice" on them.

Oh, a company can get away with two, three days training, but only under special circumstances: if the restaurant concept is extremely simple, and if the trainee is highly experienced and competent.

But for complex, fine dining in high cover restaurants: fahgetaboutit. This is what I've primarily done, and my training and testing periods for new employees last a minimum of two weeks (in actuality, 10 working days). For new restaurant openings, it's closer to three weeks (12 to 15 days of training). No apologies. On my floor, you don't get to go out and play until you're ready. And this has nothing to do with being "corporate" -- I've done it for independent, single location restaurants (re Mark Slater's words of wisdom) -- it has everything to do with competency, plain and simple.

Ascanio talked about the "soul" of a restaurant being important. I totally agree, but it takes more than a day or two of training for new employees to thoroughly learn that aspect of a restaurant. Adam mentioned the value of "following," and I actually agree with him: although manuals and such are important, most training should involve actual "doing" under tight supervision. If there is no tight supervision, God help the customer.

I like Surfer Girl, but I can't go with her on her opinion that a good server can "fake" her/his way until they know it. In every situation I've personally seen that done it's come back and bitten me in the butt: namely, upset or downright outraged guests. People do not like to be "lied" to, or told they're getting something that they're not. Most certainly, they hate dishes coming out with the wrong sauces or lacking the sides that are promised on the menu. That's what you get when you put employees in the position of having to "learn" on the job because you're too cheap or lazy to give them the time to train them properly.

So if you want your restaurant to perform up to its own standards -- and reap the sales and profits towards success -- the message is simple: hire the right people, and then give them the opportunity to do the job they're capable of doing by implementing correct training procedure.
Comment by Leif Haugen on March 6, 2008 at 4:58pm
a sixteen page test is crazy. So is the reality that so many people don't make it through. Needs to be a better way of calibrating hiring methods with performance expectations. my $.02
Comment by Adam R. Cox on March 4, 2008 at 10:31pm
Train train train. Yeah, it's a good thing. But if the person is not picking it up, or your doing too much re-education instead of tweaking little things, then the person is just not getting and should think outside the bun! Either your born to wait or your not. It's the style and customer service that people are after. Sounds like some corporate weenie who does not get outside the cublical and loves to write manuals is at the heart of this type of training. Love your articles. They are great. Cool that your #3 on the list.
Comment by Sean on January 13, 2008 at 6:43am
Sara, what you are describing is too much. I think those big corporate chains go a bit far in training their employees. Where i work you just have to follow a current employee around for a couple of shifts, until you get the hang of it, then you are given a small handful of tables for a few shifts. Once you've gotten the hang of things, you are given a proper section. Seems effective enough, although it is a small family run joint, and not a big cookie-cutter chain.
Comment by Ascanio on January 1, 2008 at 12:59pm
You are fantastic with a good sense of humar and for sure you don't need more then a day or two (of showing around the restaurant and collegue) .
Unfortunately here in Europe, is still some kind of service like, Gerington, France, Silver service or Italian, wich need a bit more knowllege for it.
Comment by Surfer Girl on January 1, 2008 at 12:47pm
After a few years on the job as a FOH employee (they still will not let me near the kitchen, maybe it's because I eat everything in sight) I feel that I'm pretty well trained. Other than the unique characteristics of a menu, a hamburger is still a hamburger, potato skins are skins and Mahi Mahi, is well, with sauce, grilled, baked, poached, or steamed in banana leaves. The bar is obvious other than some specialty drinks. Since I have tried most of the exhotic ones, I am rarely surprised. The fall back is always "when in doubt, blend it and make it pink".

All I need is a menu, some additional information on spices and how the items are prepared, a seating plan, a few sound bites on the restaurant and what it stands for and it's signature items, allow me to follow a server for a shift, maybe two and let me go. The rest I can either fake until I know it, or ask. A professional server does not need weeks of training. If they do, then maybe the manager needs to have weeks of training on how to recruit "good" employees. Cheers and happy new year to FohBoh-land.
Comment by Ascanio on January 1, 2008 at 9:42am
Happy New Year to you Sara.
It is never to much to learn somthing new but the problem you have risen about the big corporate restaurants and their training programs, is a big issue.The thing that is missing in the big corporate restaurants, is the soul.
The restaurant is the most cosmopolitan ambient and human interelation. you don't need very much of these cold tools to be a good server, but what you need is a good mannar and worm attitude foword the custumer and food you serve. If you work in a 5 star Hotel or 3 star Michelin restaurant, then in this case you will need the catering school, not just training.
The floor staff have to be well organised with maisenplass (sorry i don't know how to spell it) and have good skill in comunication and understending between the floor manager and the rest of the staff. you can only achieve this if you dine together. with all the staff and during the dinner you should talk about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. like a big family at the dinner table.




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Kids LiveWell atwitter over Twitter party

In its continuing effort to promote more nutritious and flavorful children's menu options, the NRA will hold a Twitter party  -More

Starbucks could become top on-premise wine seller in U.S.

Starbucks is planning to slowly expand its evening sales of wine, beer and small plates to thousands of selected stores throu -More

The evolving nature of snacks

Snacks have shifted from an after-school treat to a meal alternative as meal times become more fragmented.  -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Wahlburgers Announces Expansion Plans Including Franchise Agreement in Philadelphia

Wahlburgers has signed a franchise agreement with Hingham Associates, LLC that will bring five Wahlburgers to the metropolitan Philadelphia area over the next several years. The franchise group is actively looking at sites and is targeting a late 2014-early 2015 opening for its first restaurant.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. First Quarter 2014 Revenue Up 24.4%

Comparable restaurant sales increased 13.4% - Restaurant level operating margin was 25.9%, a decrease of 40 basis points

Jamba Juice Announces Grand Opening of New St. Louis, MO Location

Jamba Juice Company announced the brand’s continued expansion in the St. Louis market with the opening of a Jamba Juice® store at 11477 Olive Blvd. on April 16, 2014.

Expert in Real Estate Analytics Joins Luna Grill

Luna Grill, the San Diego-based Mediterranean restaurant chain, is welcoming retail real estate industry veteran Greg Thorburn to its leadership team. Thorburn has been brought on board to fill the newly created position of Vice-President of Real Estate.

Rita's Italian Ice Awards Area Development Agreement for Kansas

Rita's Italian Ice has awarded franchise and area development agreements for Kansas and the Kansas City area, which extends to the Missouri side of the city, to franchisees and local residents Jay Miller, Jeff Miller and Pat Reilly.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

TED: Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be - Norman Spack (2013)

Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren't comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

TED: Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar - Jennifer Senior (2014)

The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it's "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service