Without measurable data, it’s harder for L&D leaders to determine whether training programs are successful or get buy-in for additional investment. 

I recently spoke on a webinar with Bridget Siegel, COO at Hart House, about the importance of training metrics. We pulled our collective 20+ years of operational experience and shared how data analysis can be actionable and useful in the restaurant industry—specifically, how to capture the right training metrics that demonstrate training’s impact on restaurant operations.

If you’re lacking buy-in for training investment, here’s how you can start resonating with the C-suite: 

3 Examples of connecting training metrics to outcomes

Impact of onboarding training on employee retention

A good onboarding program establishes a strong relationship between employees and your company. Data can show restaurants if their training programs keep staff engaged and committed. 

Your training platform should show who’s completed the onboarding training and cohorts of who’s stayed for two weeks, six months, 12 months, and 24 months. Based on the completion rate, you can see a correlation of whether there’s a relationship between completion of the onboarding training and employee retention. See this in action in the webinar recap.

Why is this important? You can then:

  • Quantify savings for every 1% increase in employee retention
  • Correlate retention to same-store sales to estimate impact on revenue growth

Both figures demonstrate training’s impact on the bottom line and can be used to justify further investment.

Impact of FOH training on guest experience

While it’s intuitive to assume front-of-house training will improve the guest experience, it’s harder to isolate the incremental gain. But here’s how – 

Analyzing guest satisfaction scores before and after training initiatives can show the impact of training on the customer experience. When tracked over weeks or months, this metric provides a clear picture of how training impacts guest experience (GX) scores.

For instance, you can look at the guest experience ratings and training completion on a store level. To do so, compare a store’s average guest experience rating relative to the percentage of hours staffed by people who are certified in FOH training. Ideally, you’ll see a positive correlation between the two data points.

GX results can also serve as an opportunity to improve training. With a large volume of GX data, you can identify topics to build upon in your restaurant training program to improve the guest experience.

For example, if the percentage of three-star or below ratings surpasses 10%, that can be used to trigger a prompt to review further. Digging further into the issue may reveal that food quality is the issue. As a result, you can confidently justify refreshing employees on food quality training. 

Impact of SOP or technology training on productivity

Effective training should help employees work efficiently and use technologies faster and better with fewer errors. One approach to measuring the effectiveness of a technology is to measure against a leading indicator. For example, when employees clock into a POS, you can measure void rate, the percentage of times an employee has to cancel an order, as an indication that a person can use a POS effectively. People with high training accuracy should show a decreasing or lower void rate. 

Common data pitfalls to avoid

Data can be a goldmine for insights, but if not gathered or interpreted correctly, it can lead you astray. Here are common pitfalls I’ve seen trip up restaurant operators. 

Looking at one source of data

One source of data will provide an isolated view. Instead, you should combine data from various sources, including POS, clock-in systems, and Learning Management Systems (LMS), for a holistic view. This multi-source approach gives you a nuanced understanding of various factors that can influence performance, so you don’t misinterpret causation for correlation. 

Keeping data in a vacuum  

Every employee should have visibility into their employee-specific data; it shouldn’t just be for management to see. To give people ownership and hold them accountable, you should give them tools to make data-driven business decisions. Every person should know the KPIs for the business and their individual KPIs, and it should be a conversation to foster improvement. Some restaurants, like Hart House, use an employee scorecard to keep their KPIs simple and digestible. 

Just remember, avoid incentivizing employees on KPIs. That will often muddy the data. Instead, incentivize people on the actions that impact the KPIs positively.

Ignoring the context behind the data

However, data needs to be paired with a human touch. Giving employees a login to self-source data can be helpful in some occasions, but may not be the right approach in many circumstances, particularly when the data requires a lot of context. . It’s a good idea to rely on the management team to give the qualitative context behind the numbers when speaking with frontline workers, or when discussing the data with leadership. The data tells the what, and the human component, mainly corporate and field management, tells the why. 

Advice on how to approach your training program

Here are some practical tips to help you design and implement an effective training program for your restaurant staff:

Training must be catered to the individual

Training doesn’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach. With more data about each employee, you have the opportunity to be more prescriptive with your training. Every employee could have a personalized training program that focuses on their individual areas of improvement, as indicated by the data. This also helps avoid training overload.

Training investment can yield higher returns

Often businesses focus first on saving money because it’s easier to quantify, and employees are one of the biggest budget items. Instead of viewing employees as costs, restaurant management can think of employees as assets and develop their skills to save costs and generate same store growth in the long run. 

Training should be tied to business goals

Training should always be aligned with broader business objectives. If training programs are created in isolation, without considering the restaurant’s goals, they’re unlikely to have the desired impact.

Tying training to measurable outcomes is vital to improving restaurant operations and getting buy-in for training investments. When training efforts are directly linked to key performance indicators, restaurants can accurately assess the impact on employee performance and customer satisfaction. Training programs that aren’t connected to target outcomes are missing out on a key opportunity to have a strong business impact. 

Darien Bates, CEO of Fourtop Solutions, is a versatile technology professional with a proven track record in driving brand growth, customer engagement, and technology activation across diverse sectors, including restaurants and hospitality. Formerly the Chief Technology Officer at &pizza, he has successfully implemented innovative programs  tailored to the unique needs of the hospitality industry.