How to Train Restaurant Employees When They Only Work Part-Time

Restaurant Employee Training

Training part-time employees can be a challenge.

Training your employees thoroughly and correctly is integral to the success of your restaurant. Sometimes restaurant managers overlook their part-time employees and pay more attention to the training of their full-time staff. This can be a costly mistake.

Your part-time workers can transform your business. (tweet this)

Recognize the financial potential of training your part-time staff as they are a crucial part of helping your restaurant grow. Ignoring your less-than-full-time workers can lead to unmotivated and unreliable part-time staff, frequent turnover, low productivity and a potential decrease in sales.

Encourage the development of your part-time and temporary employees, and you’ll have the edge on your local competition. You can inspire customer service in your part-time employees by instilling a, “We’re in it to win it, attitude.

In this blog post we’ll discuss part-time employee training, its definite benefits and ensuing time-frame difficulties. But first, let’s address some of the benefits of making part-time employee training a priority:

Employee Retention

Restaurant managers who invest time training their part-time employees create a better work environment by implanting a sense of ownership in their employees. Structured training decreases turnover and eliminates the merry-go-round of hiring.

Responsibility Equals Reliability

Empower your part-time staff by treating them with the same level of trust you do your full-time staff. They’ll be more loyal, reliable and productive. Consider selecting a part-time staff leader to help motivate and train the other part-timers to eliminate any negative feelings between full and part-time staff.

Consistency, Expertise and the Bottom Line

As your part-time employees grow in expertise, your restaurant grows, too. (tweet this) When your employees fully understand their responsibilities and know how to perform their duties safely and with confidence, your profits increase in direct relation to their training. Consistency in your training program leads to expert employees who provide stellar customer service.

Your employee training should be mandatory for all employees, including part-time. Compensate your employees for all time spent training. Create and implement an official training program. Use the same program for all staff – full and part-time. Keep the training program up-to-date.

Employer Gains

An effective part-time employee program can be spectacular for your business. Suppose your average shift is eight hours. Perhaps your servers and kitchen staff are busy from 11 am – 1 pm and again from 4 pm – 6 pm. During the middle of the day, there are certain lulls in the workload. As a result of these peaks and valleys, your employees may be overworked during rush hours and underutilized in your off hours.

A part-time employee rarely experiences these peaks and valleys. When accurately scheduled during your peak business hours, part-time employees have better productivity and provide better customer service. You’ll lower your costs with more part-time workers and give your diners better service and attention. Part-time workers, if scheduled correctly, are usually busy every hour they work, while full-time workers have lulls in productivity.

According to Business Scene, hiring part-time workers allows you to attract a wide range of people and build in flexibility so you can respond to changes in demand. This helps develop your restaurant in a cost effective manner.

While we’ve discussed some of the benefits of part-time restaurant employees, a part-time staff comes with its own challenges. The challenge begins with hiring the right people for the job. After you’ve hired the “right” part-time staff, it can be difficult to find time to train them. Part-time workers should not be excluded from training and career development opportunities just because their hours are limited. Wherever possible, organize training at times that suit part-time workers.

Following are a few ways to train your part-time restaurant employees so you maximize your labor hours while training your staff to be in it to win it:

Maximize Your Training Times

With part-time staff it is helpful and cost effective to train them in short sessions. Since their schedules are limited, you can train part-time staff with 15 minute lessons during pre-shift meetings. Short classes can be taught by staff members and can cover anything from kitchen safety to customer service to cooking demonstrations and proper table-setting etiquette.

Shadow the Best

Restaurant Training

Enlist the help of your most productive staff members. Have you part-timers shadow a veteran employee with a good service record. Choose your best employees in the same position as the trainee and have them shadow for a day.

If you’ve got the time, have them shadow employees in other positions so they understand how the whole team works. For example, you might have your new part-time waiter shadow your lead chef in the kitchen. They might shadow the host or hostess and even the dishwashers. They’ll be more flexible in their duties as they are learning the full breadth of your restaurant business, and they’ll understand better what it takes to run your restaurant successfully. This is also great for team building.

Take advantage of veteran staffer’s experience and loyalty. Hopefully your veteran staff members have an in it to win it attitude and will pass it on to your new employees. Some important messages might be about food safety, how to carry a tray full of drinks, tips on customer service (very important!) and additional things they’ve learned from their on-the-job experience.

Give Them Hands-On Training

The very nature of a restaurant demands hands-on training. This helps your new part-time staffers feel more confident in their job. It also helps keep your payroll in check as they are working and training at the same time. Begin with the job basics and gradually move on to more difficult tasks. Tip: do this during work hours so you can maximize their time, and yours; but for the first few times, do it when business is slower.

Peer Mentoring

Assign your new part-time employee a peer mentor. This mentor should be an expert; the mentor should also train each employee (full and part-time) the same way every time. This ensures continuity in your business. Taking the time to train your part-time employees leads to better retention – providing a mentor shows you value your employee.

Use Secret Diners

Give your part-time staff a trial run. Send some friends in to dine at your restaurant and make sure they are seated at your new part-time servers table. This technique allows you to see how your employee performs under pressure, handles requests and takes care of your customers. Before-hand, give your secret diners a checklist of things you are looking for. When they are done eating, have them make some notes to return to you.

Relay the comments to the server – both positive and negative. Explain areas for improvement, and of course compliment the areas in which he/she excels. One note – let your employees know that from time to time they may experience this type of secret shopper training so it doesn’t come as a surprise to them or feel like you were sneaking around. Be upfront about this unique training tool.

The secret shopper training tool is also an exceptional way to provide ongoing training for your part-time worker without losing valuable working hours.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that you have to hire smart to ensure you have the right mix of staff. Take the time to fully vet your potential hires. Give as much attention to hiring part-time staff as you would to hiring your full-time staff. And, remember, the training doesn’t stop after week two. Keep training your staff on an on-going basis.

Do you have a hiring question? Do you need a website to post job openings?  Contact us, leave a comment or tweet us!

Images: Olga Pavlovsky & whologwhy

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  • Virginia Davis

    I agree that it is important to remember your part-time employees and the important role they have in making your restaurant successful. While part-time employees aren’t there all the time, their skill level and training can make such a huge difference, like you say. It is a really good idea to have a part-time staff leader. In my jobs, I have always felt more invested when I had more responsibility. http://www.topserveconsulting.com