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Taking Equipment Training Back to Basics

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

It’s clear Benjamin Franklin knew the importance of great training as well as how to make it stick. The sentiment of this quote holds up today, even when it comes to training equipment operators in a restaurant setting. Proper equipment training is critical to food quality and consistency, which ultimately results in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Plus, good training can also lead to greater staff efficiency and job satisfaction, both of which contribute to lower turnover.

Many managers make great trainers, but even the best can sometimes use a refresher course on training basics — just to ensure the most important operational practices are consistently being taught, observed and practiced. For this reason, we spoke with our own Pete Krause, global technical training manager

When it comes to equipment training, what’s your primary focus as a manufacturer?
We want to be sure we’re offering the best basic equipment training that’s available.  As a manufacturer, it’s up to us to help ensure every one of our purchasers have at least one or two people that understand the proper operation and maintenance of the equipment.

Are there any areas of equipment training that operators tend to not spend enough time on?
I think operators could spend more time on explaining why daily operations are so important to understand and practice consistently and correctly. For example, in the case of a fryer, it is impossible to overstate the importance of making sure things like the daily filter and clean out procedure are completed on a regular basis. The importance of basics — cleaning behind the equipment and wiping down the exterior of the unit — are sometimes not stressed enough during training. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to reinforce the simple, but critical points.

What are the best practices for testing to make sure workers have learned all the crucial elements that training has taught?
Right after showing a team member how to perform a procedure, let that trainee get hands on and practice it until they get it right. For things that don’t involve a hands-on procedure — something like going over a series of steps to shut down the equipment at the end of the day — have the team member repeat the end-of-day shutdown procedure back to you to make sure they have it right.  Also, memory fades over time, so it’s best to make sure the team member knows where to find a written copy of those procedures, general maintenance checklists and other operational documents.

What are some options to help speed up training so that more time can be focused on actual business needs?
Intuitive equipment is a great option. For example, touchscreen controls on equipment can greatly speed up learning so that a new employee can quickly get to an operational skill level. With older models of equipment, it’s possible that team members will only have certain degrees of training. This could be a problem in a situation where a new assistant manager is closing the store but the experienced team member responsible for taking care of the end-of-day operations for the fry station is out sick. Without a touch screen, the new assistant manager may be in a world of trouble. Instead, equipment with simple and intuitive touch-screen controls can easily guide him or her through a tutorial for team members who have never performed tasks like cleaning and re-assembling the drain pan or learned how to perform a daily filter.

How can operators maintain a continued focus on training?
Encourage and incentivize team members to cross train and learn every position in the kitchen.  I worked in the back of the house at a restaurant that had a similar system. We had to memorize the menu items, learn how to operate the equipment, learn how to break the station down at the end of the night and pass a short test before we could get scheduled for shifts at a new station. We were incentivized both with recognition and compensation if we knew every kitchen station. The more team members who know all the equipment in the kitchen, the more knowledge that stays with the team as team members turn over.

If the team member learned the information properly, then some of the best ways to get proper training practices to stick is to have that team member train others. If he or she can explain it to someone else then it has a better chance of becoming universal knowledge.

Is there a specific person or position within the business that should be training new team members? Should training always come from a direct supervisor or should it come from the highest possible leadership?
Effective training can come from all levels of an organization. The best trainers are often the ones who have done the job, know how to motivate others and have an upbeat personality.

Interested in learning more on how the simplicity and power of touch screen-enabled equipment can cut training time by as much as half? Check out our newest innovation in frying, the F5 open fryer with a kitchen-proof touch-screen at www.hpf5.com and be sure to take a look at our F5 related Staff Training E-Book.

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