Training New Front-Line Crew Members in a Quick-Service or Fast Casual Restaurant

Front-line crew member training | quick-service employee training | SynergySuite

In any quick-service or fast casual restaurant chain, the front-line crew member is the engine that makes the restaurant run on a day-to-day basis. They interact directly with customers, handling tasks such as taking orders, managing transactions, and serving food. They keep the dining areas and bathrooms clean and tidy and presentable. They communicate with the kitchen staff to make sure menu items don’t run low, and sometimes they even help with food prep, or putting dishes together themselves. 

These team members are typically the first point of contact for customers and are responsible for providing excellent customer service and ensuring that the restaurant operates smoothly. They often wear a lot of hats, have a wide variety of responsibilities, and have to be quick and efficient in their day-to-day work. Because they have so much responsibility, the training of front-line crew members is a vital component for every quick-service and fast casual restaurant.

Restaurant Training Guide | SynergySuite

What is the Role of the Front-Line Crew Member?

How you utilize the front-line crew members in your restaurant locations is up to you. In some establishments, entry-level employees are trained on many aspects of the day-to-day operation of a restaurant, and can generally adapt to swap in and out of certain tasks as needed, depending on the shift. Other establishments have their crew specialize in certain areas, like being the cashier, or the drive-thru attendant. 

Each option has its pros and cons. While having a versatile crew member can really come in handy when scheduling and executing shifts, it takes more time to train them to get up to speed and become a valuable part of the team. On the other hand, specializing your crew members can really cut down on training times, but makes it harder to ensure you have every specialty available when you’re scheduling your shifts, or when emergencies arise. 

You might even decide to take a hybrid approach, initially training a new crew member on one specific role, and then expanding their training as they gain experience and have been working for a longer period of time. 

Here are some of the roles that you may want to train your front-line crew to fill:

  • Cashier: Front-line team members working as cashiers are responsible for handling transactions and taking customer payments. This may include handling cash, credit and debit cards, and mobile payments.
  • Order taker: Front-line team members working as order takers are responsible for taking customer orders through the drive-thru speaker and microphone. They should be able to listen carefully and accurately enter orders into the point-of-sale system.
  • Food runner: Front-line team members working as food runners are responsible for delivering orders to customers in the drive-thru. They should be able to handle hot and cold food items safely and accurately match orders to customer receipts.
  • Busser/dining area attendant: This role may be responsible for clearing and cleaning tables between customers, taking care of spills and other messes, making sure the bathroom is stocked and sanitary, and generally making sure diners have a clean and comfortable experience.
  • Drive-thru window worker: Front-line team members working at the drive-thru window are responsible for interacting with customers, handling transactions, and providing customer orders. They should be able to multitask and manage a high volume of orders.
  • Team leader: Front-line team members working as team leaders may be responsible for overseeing the work of other front-line team members, including training new employees and ensuring that all team members are following established procedures.

By understanding the various roles that front-line team members may play in a restaurant with a drive-thru, managers can ensure that their team is adequately trained and prepared to handle the demands of their positions. While this list covers most of the common roles that your entry-level employees may fill, you can certainly customize your restaurant training and roles to accommodate whatever fits your restaurant best. 

Training Topics for Front-Line Crew Members

Training front-line team members is essential for ensuring a smooth and efficient operation. These team members are the face of the restaurant and are responsible for interacting with customers, taking orders, and handling food and drinks. Proper training can help them provide excellent customer service and ensure that the restaurant runs smoothly. Your restaurant training program for front-line crew members should be customized to fit exactly what their specific role should be, but here are some general training topics to consider:

  • Customer service: Front-line team members should be trained to greet customers, take orders, and handle any issues that may arise. They should be friendly and professional and should be able to handle demanding customers with grace and etiquette. Customer service training may include focused training on soft skills that should be improved.
  • Cash handling: If front-line team members are handling cash and making transactions, they should be trained in proper cash handling procedures. This includes accurately making changes and managing money in a way that minimizes the risk of loss or theft.
  • Menu knowledge: Front-line team members should be familiar with the menu and be able to answer customer questions about ingredients and preparation methods. They should also be able to make recommendations based on customer preferences and dietary restrictions.
  • Plating and preparing food: In many quick-service and fast casual restaurants, the front-line crew members are the ones who are plating, packaging, boxing, or serving food to the customer. They should be fully trained on how the food should look, how much of each item to include, and how to ensure the customer gets exactly what they’ve ordered. 
  • Food safety: Front-line team members should be trained in food safety protocols, including proper hand washing, food handling, and temperature control. This is essential to prevent foodborne illness and ensure that customers are served safe and high-quality food. Also, in many locations this type of training is required by law for an employee to work in a food establishment. Even with prior training before employment, you should definitely cover this topic consistently and frequently in your ongoing training program.
  • Bussing and cleaning: Customers are in-and-out, and when one leaves, another is waiting in the wings to take their table. Front-line workers should be trained on the proper procedure for bussing and sanitizing tables, know where the cleaning supplies are stocked, and how to restock the essentials like cups, napkins, utensils, drink dispensers, and more. The same attention should be given to the bathrooms, as well. 
  • Teamwork: Front-line team members should be trained to work effectively as part of a team. This includes communication skills, problem-solving, and being able to work under pressure in a fast-paced environment.

Practical training is essential for front-line team members to be able to provide excellent customer service and contribute to the success of a restaurant. By covering these key areas in both onboarding and ongoing training, managers can ensure that their front-line team members are prepared to handle the demands of their roles and contribute to a positive dining experience for customers.

In addition to the general areas of training above, more specific training for individual areas of the restaurant is also essential, especially if your restaurant provides any special services or menu items. A few examples include restaurants that have drive-thrus, as well as those that require the preparation of many ingredients to be used throughout the day. 

restaurant drive-thru training | SynergySuite

Drive-Thru Training:

You’d think that having a drive-thru would just be like having another cashier at the drive-thru window. While in effect, the role that’s filled is the same, the job itself can be quite different from a regular cashier that takes an order from inside the restaurant. 

For restaurants that have a drive-thru experience, here are some things you may need to train on, specific to drive-thru attendants. 

  • Drive-thru equipment: Front-line team members should be trained to properly use drive-thru equipment, such as headsets and point-of-sale systems. They should also be familiar with the layout of the drive-thru and the procedures for handling orders and payments.
  • Speakers and microphones: Front-line team members should be trained in how to communicate effectively through speakers and microphones, including speaking clearly and using appropriate language. They should also be able to listen carefully and understand customer orders and requests.
  • Order accuracy: Front-line team members should be trained in how to take orders accurately and input them into the point-of-sale system. This is especially important in a drive-thru setting, where orders are typically placed through a speaker and microphone rather than in person.
  • Traffic flow: Front-line team members should be trained to manage traffic flow in the drive-thru, including how to process orders efficiently and keep the line moving smoothly. They should also be trained to handle any issues that may arise, such as a long line or a customer having difficulty placing an order.
  • Expectations and goals: One thing that’s often tracked in restaurants that have drive-thrus is the time it takes a car to get their order after they’ve placed it. Sometimes there are additional tools and technology that help track these metrics. In addition, the employees should be aware of what the goals are, and what expectations there are of them when working in the drive-thru.

Food Preparation Training:

In some establishments, front-line team members are expected to help with food and ingredient preparations, while in other establishments this responsibility is handled by the line or prep cooks in the kitchen. If you expect your front-line crew to handle the preparation of ingredients or food, you will definitely want to cover a whole range of additional topics related to food safety, knife safety, general sanitation, and more.

  • Food washing and handling: Front-line team members should be trained in basic food preparation techniques, including how to safely handle and prepare ingredients and how to follow recipes. They should also be trained in food safety protocols, including hand washing and temperature control.
  • Equipment usage: Front-line team members should be trained in the proper use of kitchen equipment, including ovens, stoves, microwaves, and slicers. They should be aware of any safety protocols associated with the equipment and be able to use it effectively and efficiently.
  • Knife Safety: All employees that are handling knives should consistently have knowledge on how to handle knives safely. While small nicks and cuts are difficult to avoid completely, proper knife safety training should minimize the risk, and hopefully ensure that no major accidents occur on the job. 
  • Stock and inventory management: Front-line team members should be trained to manage food inventory and ensure that ingredients are properly stored and rotated. They should also be able to restock supplies as needed and ensure that the kitchen is adequately stocked at all times.
  • Quality control: Front-line team members should be trained to ensure that food is prepared to the highest standards of quality and consistency. This may include checking food temperature, presentation, and flavor and making necessary adjustments.

An efficient front-line team member has good communication skills, attention to detail, efficiency, teamwork, and adaptability. These team members should be able to communicate effectively with customers and team members, handle transactions and orders accurately, work efficiently in a fast-paced environment, collaborate with other team members, and adapt to changing circumstances. By cultivating these characteristics in their front-line team, managers can help ensure that their team can provide excellent service to customers and contribute to the restaurant’s success.

Manage Front-line Training with Restaurant HR Software

When working within a restaurant enterprise with many locations, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort during restaurant employee training by utilizing restaurant HR software. This software can be incredibly useful for keeping updated versions of your manuals, videos, and other resources in a place that can be accessed and referenced from anywhere and at any time. 

Not only that, but restaurant HR software can also help you create onboarding and training documents and checklists that will ensure that each employee is up-to-date on their training, and that no important topics are missed. This can be especially useful when you are managing the training of new employees across a large number of locations, saving your HR department a lot of time and energy in tracking the progress of each new employee.

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