Pizza News

Smart hiring and training

In order for you to grow and continue to succeed, you need to make the best choices every time you hire. Sure, bright people are looking for work these days, but will they be the right fit for your business? Just because a candidate is smart and demonstrates good management skills doesn’t mean he’ll enjoy working late nights or dealing with irate customers. You also need to consider the candidate’s ability to fit in with your company’s culture, leadership roles and ultimate goals. 

How do you find the perfect employee? He may already be there, just waiting to be called upon to prove his abilities. And, if you screen your employees more carefully from the time they first decide they want to work for you, you’ll find more star players later in the game. Finding qualified applicants isn’t easy, but plenty of companies are willing to help you make better-informed decisions. Because training costs time and money, you want to make sure you get paid back on your investment.

Using Technology

While the majority of America’s pizzerias have reliably counted on gut instinct when hiring employees, what if an owner simply can’t meet every applicant personally? Today’s technology allows you to make an educated decision regardless and keeps you up-to-date automatically. For example, Jeff Kahler, CEO of Ready Training Online, based in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, states that training software can automatically update itself to stay current with new laws as they constantly change regarding such important topics as wages, laws and workplace conduct. “Today’s software can deliver consistent, documented training,” he points out.

Geoff Falconar, owner of Allantra Learning Technologies in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, suggests starting your training process by incorporating your employee manual into your training software to create accountability from day one. When your employees can be trained centrally, the company benefits from the savings and learning process.

Ginger Nixon and Carmela Centrella from SilkRoad Technology in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, point out that software can help ferret out potential bad hires before they make their way into your organization, as well as speed up the training process and get quality hires into the system faster—and, best of all, employees can train from anywhere. Nixon, marketing and communications director, says that “there is no need to trade timeliness for thoroughness” when it comes to training your employees. Using a solution for recruiting taps into the places where today’s prospects are: social networking sites and job posting sites. Meanwhile, training programs succeed by centralizing and standardizing your training so that your staff members at all locations have the same training your business needs.

Jean McCue, owner of The Pizza Place in Round Lake Park, Illinois, has been using a training program to help reinforce procedures and rules with her staff over the years and says it’s a good all-around training tool for her staff, and a good value. “The program has many features that can be adapted to any foodservice business,” says McCue. “Customer service, cleanliness, how to use knives, sanitizing, cooking temperatures and food safety are all great videos. Overall, it is a great concept and very educational. I now have the ability to show the employees and managers what I have been trying to tell them for years.”

Since most teaching and training software must be adaptable to all businesses, software can incorporate any of the unique skills that are particular to each career. While some locations may require slightly different methods, they usually require the same skill sets, which can be reinforced via software training, with your area’s unique needs added in. For example, if you operate in a high crime neighborhood, the software vendor can tailor the training materials to teach skills needed during a robbery. 

Some larger pizzerias, such as Annapolis, Maryland-based Ledo Pizza (, rely on existing software to keep staff educated before and after opening each day. Will Robinson, vice president of marketing for Ledo Pizza, says, “We use a networked digital display that broadcasts our specials and promotions to the stores. The boards are located at the entrance of our restaurants and are visible to both carryout and dine-in customers. The digital displays also air training videos before the stores open and after they close.”

As technology improves and Internet access becomes more universal, training will become easier and more uniform for your employees. The key to improving employee training is improving the processes by which they are trained. When a routine, yet important, process is streamlined and modernized, the final result will provide more uniform and consistent methods and improve accountability. One key to keeping your business successful is making sure that each new generation of employees is as efficient and well-trained as the one before, and one of the best ways to ensure a solid, cohesive team is to train everybody the same. From hiring and orientation to food prep and guest relations, you have a responsibility to provide employees and customers with the most complete information available. After all, employee salaries make up a good percentage of your expenditures, so it’s up to you to focus that variable to your advantage. 

Overall, software can help you test and weed out potential bad hires and help you get more from your present employees. Finding the proper software for your business requires you to research the options that would best fit your unique hiring and training needs. Selection of top candidates is essential, so research software companies very carefully. Ask around for local or regional references. As your business continues to grow—and particularly if you open another location—you need to know that your managers are able to make smart hiring decisions without having you there to guide them. After all, you hired them to manage—help them to do it!

Ron Cox is PMQ’s assistant editor.