Education is the recipe for F&B success
Education is the recipe for F&B success
18 SEPTEMBER 2012 6:28 AM

Continued education in the F+B space creates a more efficient and streamlined staff that will be ready for anything.

Making the choice to continue your education often brings to mind long hours sitting in a classroom, endless amounts of homework, a huge financial commitment and a handful of other reasons why we decide there are not good reasons to go back to school.

The influx of TV and radio advertisements for online universities always promise that in just a few years you will be much better off in your life than you are now. While a degree does help, the online degree experience also can be a multiyear process that is not right for everyone, especially those of us who are already struggling to find a work-life balance.

Brandon Springer-McConnell

Within the food-and-beverage discipline specifically, numerous options exist to gain additional education without always going the traditional school route. Many of us find inspiration from anything ranging from a fellow co-worker sharing an old family recipe to a memorable dining experience as we travel with friends and family. Either way, a foodie’s mind is always looking for the next best thing.

The formal continued educational offerings for F&B professionals can be defined in two directions. First there’s the technical or “hands-on” training that comes from attending a local cooking class or even at a professional school setting. In this setting, you will refine your palate, learn different types of knife cuts and develop your passion for creativity on a plate. These types of skills are found at the core of any successful operation and shouldn’t be overlooked. However, many employees and operators in management levels find other ways to grow their professional skill set. This is the level of training where the online educational platform does play a beneficial role for us.

Finding F&B online classes
I challenge you to open up your favorite search engine and type the phrase “hotel and restaurant management training,” and I bet the only thing that pops up is a list of multiple marketing ploys.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have programs that instill a positive instructional design that captures the essence of culinary operations while still being able to deliver a high level professional development educational offering?  Those fancy culinary institutes and trade organizations have professional certifications ranging from becoming a designated F&B executive to module specific training in everything from financial analysis to inventory systems and controls; these provide an affordable, time-saving alternative to multiyear schooling.

Let’s not forget that everyone’s favorite food safety and responsible server certifications are great examples of training and continued education mandates. We all had to go through that, and we made time for it!

The benefits of the Internet
The sheer amount of training material that is already established is just a click away. This option offers you or your management staff the necessary tools to design your own training programs specific to your hotel and restaurant’s needs, especially if larger programs and their subsequent costs are too big of a financial investment to your operation.

If you choose this route, it is important that the first step in deciding how to move forward in professional development is to define what deficiencies you are looking to address and if these deficiencies are self-realized or guest-indicated, and drill down from there.

The important reason to springboard from this question is that a guest-indicated deficiency is an urgent operational failure that could be costing you a large amount of revenue and must be addressed immediately using spot training and corrective measures. On the flip side of that coin is a self-realized deficiency with an individual or team. The benefit here is the ability to have more time to drill down and find the root cause of the problem.
An example of a self-deficiency that many hoteliers face is the challenge of balancing a low food cost calculated by occupied room for a unit with fluctuating occupancy. This is a skill that is learned the hard way by managers who do not have additional education and instead use the trial-and-error method. The tactics taught in hospitality financial accounting matched with a better understanding of industry purchasing and portion control best practices can help mitigate the chance of a sizeable financial loss if the trial and error continues for too long.

Overall, it is important to remember that self growth is the most important piece to success in the long term for both you and your team. It doesn’t matter if you are the GM or a part-time hostess, everyone in your unit deserves to be on a developmental plan. As a leader, remain committed to fostering a learning environment that offers something for everyone. Your team should be excited about the possibilities you set forth, and believe you are steadfast in your role of supporting them in all of their learning and development endeavors.

Remember to enjoy the journey of learning and embrace education in all facets that it may come!

Brandon M. Springer-McConnell – CFBE, CHT currently works with TMI Hospitality, who holds a hotel portfolio of close to 200 properties and growing. He heads up Learning & Development while working with the training department and it’s respective Director on course materials and future strategic learning opportunities. He was also a Disney Trainer and has worked with multiple national companies in leadership role.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

No Comments

  • June October 19, 2012 7:04 AM

    There are a bunch of other ways F&B folks can develop their skills while adding to their practical experience and it doesn't always involve schooling (online or off). There are cultural exchange programs, Alliance Abroad Group's Work Experience Australia for example, that allow young culinary professionals to work side-by-side with top leaders in the industry in well respected properties abroad. This unique learning approach gives students and F&B professionals a chance to get international experience that looks great on their resume while learning new techniques and exploring a new country.

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