Trying to Boost Seasonal Menu Sales? Try Video Training
Video training is a great way to solve one of the biggest problems facing restaurant organizations today: the breakdown of communication along the chain of command.
All restaurants, from small independent operators to large chains, face difficulties when launching a new menu. Communicating change and proper execution across the wide spectrum of restaurant team members can be a challenge, and one not easily solved. Factor in the different roles of employees, their perspectives and each person's individual learning style and the challenge becomes clearer. Expand that problem to large organizations with multiple locations and the challenge is multiplied 10-fold.
This challenge presented itself to Barmetrix five years ago when our client, Glory Days Grill, wanted a way to streamline communication across their organization. Glory Days Grill is a sports themed American grill and bar formed in 1996 by restaurant veterans Jeff Newman, Richard Danker, and Robert Garner. With more than 20 locations along the east coast, Glory Days Grill offers an award-winning menu of appetizers, desserts, and entrees coupled with a sports-centric atmosphere designed to appeal to a wide demographic. One of the more creative aspects of their menu strategy is their seasonal menu. Four times a year, in the fall, winter, spring, and summer, they introduce a collection of inspired dishes alongside their core menu. This strategy speaks loudly to the effort they make to keep their menu fresh and interesting to their guests and why we at Barmetrix consider them to be one of our most progressive clients.
The initial introduction of the menu was well received by their guests and produced some good numbers in terms of sales and profitability. We all knew that great execution from the kitchen all the way to the table was a key factor in the long-term success of the seasonal menu. Now, we needed to come up with a way to help them reach each and every team member in a way that was effective and relevant to their role.
We began working with Glory Days Grill in 2011 with a collaborative effort to develop a learning management system (LMS). Its early days revolved around developing videos aimed at onboarding new employees and providing key initial training to assimilate them quickly and efficiently into the organization. Over the next year it was expanded to include menu training for both FOH and BOH team members. While it was initially focused on the core menu it became clear that this could be a key tool in making the seasonal menu a big success.
For the past four years we have been providing video training for each rollout of their seasonal menu. We film the preparation of each recipe in its entirety and from this, two versions are created. One is for the BOH staff which tells the story of the dish and shows in detail how it's prepared. Included are subtitles to bridge any language barriers with Hispanic team members. The other version is geared toward the FOH staff with the backstory of the recipe and graphical pop outs. This helps servers properly position the dishes to the guest and provides training on upsell opportunities such as beer pairings. These video sessions get rolled up into an in-restaurant, full staff event occurring a few days before the launch of the menu. Included are recipe tastings, team collaboration and a Q&A session. Team members are also tested to insure they have a full understanding of the menu and can effectively and expertly communicate its offerings and unique qualities to the guest.
The results? Impressive, to say the least. Glory Days Grill has experienced exponential growth in the sales of their seasonal menu items. In fact, with the latest launch, they are averaging about 10,000 items sold per week. This, compared to the few thousand average sold over an entire period prior to the video initiative, represents a nearly 500 percent increase in sales.
Why has this video training been so effective? We believe it is because of its rich content and the fact that it spans most learning styles. Some people learn best through visual means while others learn more effectively by listening. Still others learn better by being more hands on. That, combined with the ability to deliver a unified message simultaneously to every team member, makes it a very powerful instrument that produces results unprecedented in the industry.
Tony Cochones, Glory Days’ Vice President of Culinary Operations, had this to say about the role of video training in launching their seasonal menu:
“I think it's critical, I think it's made a tremendous difference in our ability to be able reach all of our employees, to understand the way they want to consume information, and also to provide it in various forums and types so that they can better digest the information as it pertains to them.”
Clearly video training has been a huge success for Glory Days Grill and has moved them significantly forward in a key component of their menu strategy. The big question now is can this strategy and practice be expanded to other clients to achieve similar results?
We believe the answer is most definitely yes. Video training is one of the best ways to solve one of the biggest problems facing restaurant organizations today, which is the breakdown of communication along the chain of command. When you have a tool that can be used to break through language barriers, learning style differences and can be delivered anywhere at any time you have effectively solved that problem. Top operators understand the power that video has in aligning their organization around key initiatives that enable the delivery of their brand promise to every customer, every time.
The days of static learning programs in restaurant training programs may be in the rear view mirror. With the advent of rich, targeted content based learning platforms, designed to engage, inspire and enlighten employees, organizations no longer have to depend on text-based materials to reach their employees. By incorporating video training, they can reach all their employees, in a way that resonates with each one, and gets everyone moving in the same direction at once. And, an army of informed, inspired team members, all in lock step with one another, is a force that can catapult even the most challenging of initiates to new heights.