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Does the hospitality workforce have the necessary hard and soft skills they need in changing times?

You know an industry is booming when substantial amount of investments are being pumped into it. Take just one example: Abraj Kudai in Mecca is nearing completion and when it opens, it would be the largest hotel in the world. With 10,000 rooms and 70 restaurants and 3 helipads, the features are giddying. You might brush it aside by saying it’s in Mecca where almost all Muslims go at least once in their lifetime, and this Megatron cannot merely be the proof that hospitality industry is thriving. Okay, let’s look at this: According to Punket Research, the global restaurant industry generated approximately $2.2 trillion in 2018. The number of hotels and inns of all types in the world is more than 2 million, housing more than 15 million guest rooms. The revenues from food and bar services garnered $717 billion in the US alone.

Failure and Success

Honestly speaking, we wouldn’t need these statistics to tell us that the hospitality industry is booming. You may belong to any industry, but you would have availed services from the hospitality industry at least once, unless of course, you’re a fully committed Amish!

Looking at these figures, it is tempting to go and start a restaurant, or a bar or a B&B. But hold your fort. Almost 60% of all restaurants fail in their first three years. The Restaurant Times magazine identifies some of the reasons why restaurants fail. They are, among others, Poor Customer Experience, Inexperience, Poor Staff Management, etc. According to industry experts, the success or failure of such an enterprise is determined by various factors, the key ones being “knowledge, drive, skills, determination, and passion,” which directly relate to “employees’ personality, diversity, and most important of all, training!” This is what we will address in this blog – How we will ensure that the staff members are fully trained and are ready to take your business to its deserved success?

Front and Back

Skills creation and attitude-building are important for both the frontline and the kitchen staff. The front-end staff need to present their best face to the customer; the back-end kitchen staff need to ensure that the products match the expectation on quality and presentation.

No matter what you have, a restaurant, a diner, or a star-rated hotel, you will need to take a hard look at the training you have. How do you do that?

Skills, Hard & Soft

Hospitality staff require various skills. The kitchen staff need to know about cooking, hygiene, health & safety, etc. The service staff need to know about table set up, arrangement, cleaning, crowd management, etc. The front office staff need to know about ledger maintenance, hotel management system access, customer relationship management, etc. The admin staff need to know about stocks, procurement, product quality, etc.

These are hard skills without which they can’t function at all. There are also some soft skills and behaviors, which would make or break performance. The kitchen staff need time management and stress management. The service staff need personal relationship and dispute management. You can’t afford to have the most efficient waiter who is short-tempered and foul-mouthed. Or the greatest chef in the world who is disorganized.

You need to plan training interventions and link them up strongly with the performance objectives of the staff members. You should first carry out skill-gap analysis, across functional, leadership and behavioral skills. Say, you have an assistant chef that needs time-management skills. Or you have a waiter that needs stress management training. Or you have a delivery staff that needs a boot!

Once you identify the requirements, you can then schedule the training interventions. These days, taking the online route is the best, because no one has the time nor the affordability for face-to-face training. Even the onboarding training is delivered online, simply because it reduces time to productivity of new hires and saves valuable money otherwise incurred in arranging for the travel of the trainees from geographically dispersed locations.

If you can’t build online training programs yourself, don’t worry. There are pre-built training service providers who can help. Start-ups like Trypsy offer hundreds of nuggetized training programs on various subjects such as Beverage, Compliance, Culinary, Hotel, Service, etc.

You can also approach eLearning service providers who can help you source and license training programs by combing through service providers across the world and shortlist the best and most affordable ones. This is called Strategic Sourcing.

Training Follow-up

Don’t stop with just delivering the required training, you need to ensure that it works. This means the training must translate into desired performance. Set timelines to follow up on it. Link these training interventions to performance objectives. If the assistant chef assembles seven burgers in an hour, he should attempt ten an hour, so that you know that the training had been effective. That hassled waiter should aim for higher feedback ratings or fewer customer complaints.

If the performance objectives are met, you need to consider taking the training to the next level. If they are not, you need to decide on next steps: should they undergo the same training again or should there be a new training to be planned? In other words, is the issue with the person or the program?

Buddy System

If you’ve exhausted training options, or if you can’t afford to spend a lot of money at this moment, you may also consider Buddy System. Assign one efficient waiter to a struggling one. The latter should tail the former and learn by observing, talking and taking notes about how the former operates.

Similarly, an assistant chef can tail a more experienced and efficient chef to observe and learn.

For those struggling mainly with soft skills, you can introduce mentorship and coaching programs. Bring in either an external professional or, if that’s beyond budget, find an internal mentor. Remember, not everyone can be a mentor. This person should naturally be a leader who the people look up to. The mentor can hold group sessions and one-on-one sessions to identify, address and help resolve the challenges faced by their group. Such a mentor need not be an industry expert or someone from the management, but just be good at whatever he or she is doing and someone that others admire for his or her qualities.

Hospitality industry is one of the rarest industries that offers huge business potential and is growing by leaps and bounds. A good restaurant will transform into a great restaurant simply by having a well-trained and motivated staff. Make yours a great one. Look up for the training opportunities today and see your business transform.

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