As the Chinese proverb goes: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”

Think back to how you learned to drive a car and you can see why role-playing is so effective. Did you watch someone explain it on a flip chart and then jump behind the wheel? Probably not.

Someone showed you the proper techniques, then you went through the motions in a parked car until you felt confident enough to go solo around the block. It wasn’t until you received the green light that you grabbed the keys for good.

Don’t give employees the go-ahead to perform important skills with customers until they’ve demonstrated a certain level of proficiency in role-playing sessions. Here’s how to conduct them:

  • Write the scenarios down on note cards before the meeting. Provide specifics and “set the scene.”
  • On a flipchart, identify the behaviors you’re after.
  • Call up role-players one scenario at a time, and have employees take turns playing the customer.
  • Give everyone a turn — having good and not-so-good responses in role-plays reinforces learning.
  • Discuss each scenario when the role-play is finished, pinpointing good aspects and areas that need improvement.

Excerpted from Quick Service That Sells!, the restaurant management book just for QSR. Click here to read more.