Your Most Important Investment

Your most important Investment

What’s the most valuable asset in your business?

The big, fabulous crystal lampshades your business partner HAD to have? The rare and expensive bespoke coffee machine – flown all the way from Italy? Or the set of gold plated antique jiggers the bartender keeps putting in the glasswasher?

Whatever the object or thing you’re thinking of…you’re dead wrong!

The most valuable asset in your business is your staff

Unless you greet every customer, take every order, process or cook every meal, serve every table, check on every customer and finalise every payment – you’re going to need to make sure you invest in your team

These people represent an investment by you in the health and profitability of your business.

So few businesses and business owners truly comprehend this, even large companies. The problems stemming from a lack of proper training can be :

  • Customer Service suffers
  • Little or no consistency in the product
  • Presentation of your product suffers
  • Presentation of the business suffers
  • Poor Communication and the tendency for individuals to go ‘off mission’
  • Shrinkage & Wastage increases
  • High Staff turn over

Each issue equates to lost revenue and can easily add up to tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

So how do you make a difference?

Before you get started, you’re going to need to decide on which areas you need to work on. Is customer service or presentation an issue? Do you want to work on your team’s upselling? Would you like to work on wastage or ordering levels?

The most important step is to try to look at your business from on whole. I imagine myself as an army officer, or an engineer, looking at a plan of the whole business and team from the top down. It might even be of benefit to sketch out such a plan, if it helps you visualise your business.

This is another reason so many businesses go to a third party to perform a Business Review. Having someone else look at your business, your staff and your training plan can really provide you with valuable insights.

Knowing your weak areas and the outcome you’d like to achieve allows you to set some benchmarks from the start, so you can measure progress and make sure you haven’t missed an area that needs work.

Getting Started

As you draw up your plan of action – factor in what you are required to do legally (health & safety, licensing etc.)  And use your sales data, team performance data, wastage / shrinkage data and customer feedback to provide you with the hard answers.

Your data won’t lie, and if there are any weak areas, you’ll be able to spot them quickly, and address them in your training first.

Some of the areas you should be looking at include:

  • What food guidelines, licensing and health & safety laws do my team need to know and follow?
  • Are you happy with your customer satisfaction feedback and customer service?
  • Are you happy with the attention to detail and the ‘set up for service’ of the business
  • Which team members could use some help?
  • Do you staff understand about the cost to the business of wastage?
  • Does your team know when to push high revenue products?
  • Does your team know when to push high gross profit products?
  • Do your team know how to upsell add on items
  • Do your team know what to do in an emergency (fire, threat, accident?)

Agreeing a framework

Training should be an informative and repeatable session, with the outcome being a more prepared, more knowledgeable and safer team member.

The first obvious question is – who will be conducting the training? Will it be you, and if so will the person you train need to go on and show others (training the trainer) If so, make sure you have hard copy back up of all the points you want to get across so that the message is consistent moving forward.

If you’re training as a group, call a team meeting and give everyone plenty of notice to show up to the session. It should be compulsory attendance.

If your training is one-on-one with yourself or a more experienced team member or ‘on the job training’, stick to a formal list of objectives and refer to your notes for each session. A great tip is to use the ‘notes’ feature on an App like Floodlight Pulse to scroll through each point during the session.

Formalise your training

Formalising the training into a set of sessions – with an outcome or notification (such as a certificate from the business) Allows you to check off sessions as staff go and gives them a sense of achievement at the end of the course.

It will also make your team take the training more seriously, as they appreciate that they are improving their skills (and their value to the business) Businesses which offer good training prospects tend to attract the most hardworking and serious staff – as they understand their earning potential will improve as they learn.

It may well be in your best interest to speak to local government training schemes as well, as there are officially recognised courses available for your team, and generous tax incentives to the business if you set up such schemes. Check out this link for info on Australian government training incentives.

Look outside the box

To avoid the training ‘course’ becoming dull visits to another business are a great idea, and some of the most fun, and most memorable training sessions I’ve been to have been with suppliers. Visits to coffee companies, breweries, wineries or food suppliers generally result in a fun & interesting experience for the team, which builds knowledge and moral.