Training the Best Seasonal Staff

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May 16, 2017

In our last article, we spoke with one ICA caterer about hiring the very best of the best to work seasonally for your catering company. Now that you've found these new employees, we'd like to share some tips and tricks for how to train them.

Though every company has its own quirks and culture, ICA member caterers Amanda Gallion and Lizzy Greene shared with us training advice that's helpful for any catering business.

1. Start by looking for easy-to-train staff

Okay, this might technically be more related to the hiring process, but good training can start while you're still looking for the right staff. Greene, the chief sales and marketing officer at Russell Morin Catering and Events in Attleboro, Massachusetts, said, "Ultimately we are more concerned with personality. We can train for technical skills and teach procedures,     but we can’t teach someone to be outgoing, friendly and smile."

Employees of The Wild Thyme Company work a flatbread station in 2016.

2. Involve company culture

While training might sound more technical than anything, it is also crucial that you introduce new hires to the unique atmosphere and beliefs of your company. Greene shared how they approach this: "All new employees must attend an HR orientation where they learn about Morin’s history, mission, vision, core values as well as some policies and procedures."

3. All-at-once vs. several shifts

Depending on your budget and how complex your training is, the way you break up your training sessions changes. Gallion, the staffing manager at The Wild Thyme Company in San Diego, shared that they train their employees in one four-hour session, whereas Greene trains in "anywhere between one to five shifts depending on which position they were hired for."

4. Consider appointing a full-time trainer

It can be best to put one person in charge of training, devoting all of their time and resources to developing new employees. At The Wild Thyme Company, Gallion mentioned that PekSze, a member of their staff, "conducts bi-weekly Food Boot Camps." Sticking to one trainer not only gives the new hires a clear mentor but also ensures they are never presented with conflicting information.

5. Include returning employees, too!

New hires aren't the only ones whose skills might need a brush-up. Gallion shared that their returning employees can "spend some extra time with PekSze" if need be. Likewise, Greene advised that "no refresher training is needed" for most employees, "unless they have been gone for more than one full year or our policies and procedures have changed or been updated."

The most important thing to gather from this article is that there are a million ways to train employees, each of which may be best for one catering company and be disastrous for another. All we—and our ICA members—suggest is that you innovate and explore until you find whatever works best for your business.

The Wild Thyme Company and Russell Morin Catering and Events are proud members of the ICA. To learn more about the ICA, visit http://internationalcaterers.org/.

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