Want to know one of the biggest hidden challenges in running any coffee shop or restaurant? Keeping training costs down. Every day spent training means lost productivity or additional labor costs in the form of the trainer him/herself.
But there are a few ways to keep training costs in check. Using one or more of these tips can almost always reduce your training budget:
1. Use training manuals and CDs.
Reinventing the wheel costs time and money. To keep your training program consistent and relatively easy, develop a training manual (have a little fun with PowerPoint), or better yet, buy one, along with a few instructional videos. Topics to consider: the history of coffee, how to brew coffee and espresso and steam milk, and how to calibrate and care for a burr grinder.
You’ll be teaching most of these things in a hands-on way. But by first introducing knowledge and skills to new hires with manuals and videos, you’ll be solely paying them for the training time (not a trainer). And when they’re ready to get behind the espresso machine, they’ll be better equipped to absorb the necessary skills, having learned some of the lingo and anatomy beforehand.
2. Read up on training.
There are plenty of great books on training, which can give you ideas for workshops and activities to be included in your training program. Build a small library of books for you or your designated trainer(s) that offers ideas, manuals and supplemental learning materials. Try to store these resources in one place, such as a company-training library, and encourage employees to add to it and check out items for home use.
3. Provide on-the-job training, but …
Not too quickly. You don’t want employees with little to no confidence in their skills to directly interface with customers. This won’t help your brand or repeat business. Case in point: Each Starbucks employee (not a benchmark for everything, but their training seems to be working for them) completes a comprehensive 24-hour training scheme before working directly with customers.
4. Cross train.
Cross training is beneficial to both your employees and your coffee shop or restaurant business, since they will have a wider range of skills and be able to contribute in multiple areas. This can also allow you to schedule fewer people while still achieving your production and service standards. First off, all baristas should know how to open and close the shop. If you have other staff (host/hostesses, roasters and the like) be sure they are trained to cover for your main customer service crew when necessary.
5. Hire two people for the same or similar position at the same time.
This will keep training costs down, even cutting them in half, and save you a lot of grief if one of them should decide to quit shortly afterward.
6. Avoid over-staffing
When you’re training one staff person, it can be tempting to schedule extra people to ensure the shop runs without any glitches in service. But in reality, there will always be a few kinks in the restaurant business. Scheduling too many employees will increase your labor costs and reduce your overall profit. (Also, having staff standing around, due to overstaffing, just looks bad.) If you find that you have overscheduled, send staff members home early. Train them all to work quickly and accurately while also treating guests with respect and care. This will allow you to operate at a high standard while still hitting your target labor costs.