If you want to lower turnover rates at your bakery business, one key strategy is to provide comprehensive training. As any bakery owner knows, the cost of continually hiring and retaining employees is inefficient and expensive. That’s why we encourage ongoing training to lay the groundwork for a happy and successful employee culture.
On-the-job bakery training starts with familiarizing new hires with policies, safety procedures, cleaning requirements, dress code, customer care, and anything else important to your brand. It outlines your expectations and—when executed properly—instills long-term good habits in your employees. Keep reading for our top 7 tips for training your bakery team.
1. Create Your Training Recipe
Owners and managers: think of training your new staff members like following a recipe. There are certain “ingredients” your team will need to be successful. Write them all down in an order that makes the most sense, so you have clear directions to follow. A training “recipe” will ensure you don’t forget any important elements and have your thoughts well-organized.
A structured training plan can help you decide what topics to train and when. Once your trainee has a good handle on a particular aspect of their job, continue to challenge them so they learn and grow. For example, once they have mastered taking orders, teach them the proper way to answer the phone and handle the requests they will receive.
2. Deliver Transparent Training
If an employee doesn’t understand why they are learning a particular skill or task, they may take a passive approach when it comes to learning new information. Make sure you’re transparent about training so your employees understand the end goal. You’ll want to be clear that the training is not about a lack of trust but rather about implementing bakery change management, reducing employee turnover, improving morale, driving efficiency, and improving your bottom line.
Setting rules and expectations in place from the get-go will teach your staff that you aren’t micromanaging. For example, let them know that cleaning equipment along the way will help prevent it from breaking down. Explain how their job is connected to the grand scheme of the kitchen. Many people are results-oriented, so focusing on the end product helps them not only understand their role better—but actually invest in the process as well.
3. Use a Mix of Training Methods
Since not everyone can read a list of information and retain it immediately, we find it helpful for bakeries to offer a few different training methods. One great way to train your bakery team is through role-playing common scenarios. This “learn by doing” approach works well for customer service tasks like taking orders and upselling. Once they have the basics down, let them try what they’ve learned on you or another staff member before throwing them into customer interaction. This gives them a safe space to practice, and any mistakes can be corrected before they’re working in a live situation.
Another helpful tool is the use of video. Training videos can free up your time and be a point of reference that your team can refer back to from time to time if needed. For example, you could record a video of your order management system as you walk through how to take a custom cake order. Remember: Videos don’t have to be pretty, they just need to be helpful.
4. Keep Feedback Constructive
Failure presents us with an opportunity to learn and grow—and this should be the way you handle feedback at your bakery. New team members are going to make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes will upset your customers or cause you to take more time out of your day fixing them. Give grace! Most of us remember how confusing our first few days on the job were. Instead of getting upset, help your employee understand:
- What went wrong
- How it impacted the bakery and your customers
- How to correct or prevent the mistake from happening again
- How to complete the task correctly in the future
It’s crucial to allow your team to learn through action and failure. While, yes, it may take a new employee twice as long to get the task done correctly, it’s the only way they’ll improve and better understand your bakery’s processes. Let your customers know ahead of time that you’re working with a new staff member in training, and there might be a slight delay. Most customers will be understanding and won’t mind waiting a couple of extra minutes.
5. Practice Patience
One of the key reasons bakery owners and managers are so good at their jobs is because they’ve been doing it for years. So, of course, these rules and protocols come easy to you! While a new employee may have past bakery experience, that doesn’t mean they should be expected to know exactly how your bakery operates.
Chances are, your new hires aren’t going to absorb everything you say in their first shift, so don’t get frustrated when they ask questions about topics you’ve already covered. Questions are a sign that they are trying to learn—help them understand! Your staff is more likely to stick around if they feel like you’ve put time and effort into training them to be the best they can be.
6. Lead by Example
As a leader, you should be the benchmark for success. Whether they know it or not, your staff will always be looking to you as an example, so make sure responsibilities like safety, customer service, and cleanliness are always top-of-mind. If your staff sees you slacking on certain tasks, then they will learn to do the same.
That’s why it’s crucial for bakery management to model what they expect to see at their bakery. Be an attentive and caring teammate, leave your workspace clean and organized, and make every customer interaction a positive one. If leaders show up with a positive attitude and put into action what they have laid out in their training, employees will follow suit.
7. Continue Investing
Once your trainee has a good handle on their role at your bakery, continue to guide and encourage them so they can learn, grow, and ultimately add value to your bakery. For example, maybe you have a back-of-house team member that has shown some interest in answering phones and helping customers. Consider training them on front-of-house duties so they can fill in when needed and be given an opportunity to grow their experience. Ideally, they’ll feel empowered by your support and trust in them to take on more tasks.
Managing the different personalities in your bakery’s front- and back-of-house staff can be daunting, but being a good manager is about more than forcing your employees to work as hard as possible. With the proper training in place, you’ll create an environment where your team is motivated, appreciated, and empowered.
Conquer The Chaos
At BakeSmart, we want to help bakeries of all shapes and sizes create an environment where teams feel motivated, appreciated, and empowered. If you’re a bakery owner looking for more ways to support your staff and conquer the chaos of owning a retail bakery, schedule a demo with us today and enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee.