When developing a restaurant training plan, structure the time you have available to get the biggest bang for your training buck. Limit your training to doable behaviors presented in a clear, consistent and ongoing basis, and use a variety of tools — from online training modules to engaging games — to ensure your training sticks.

Pre-Shift Training

Daily, or pre-shift, meetings should be a part of every restaurant training plan. With only eight to 10 minutes to get the job done, pre-shift training must be delivered with precision. Be sure to keep the meeting fast-paced and interactive. Here’s an example: Use “jump-up” dialogue to enhance servers’ product knowledge. Give a description of a product using image-building phrases: “Our hand-crafted Pilsner has a notable hop and fruit character. The hops impart a piney, herbal and citrus aroma and flavor.” Then select a server to “jump up” and recite the description back to you immediately (make sure they stand up to help simulate the service encounter as much as possible). Then ask another server to “jump up” and recite the same description with an added food recommendation.

Weekly Training

Weekly skills sessions should last about a half-hour and should also be focused on real-world scenarios. Utilize online training and videos to give trainees a solid intro to the content you’re covering, then follow it up with online assessments and application of new skills using role-playing. Appeal to all the senses by by offering samples of new menu items or upcoming specials, followed by a product knowledge game. Weekly meetings are also a great time to conduct role-play rehearsals to let servers practice their sales dialogue in front of an audience.

Monthly Training

Monthly sales meetings should last from 60 – 90 minutes and should encompass broadscale topics like new product development, marketing promotions and more detailed role-play scenarios. Monthly meetings are also a good time to award prizes for past incentive programs, and to announce new incentive programs for the coming month.

Click here to check out this quick online video module that can be used at your next training session to increase appetizer sales.