Investing In a Unified Beverage Service Training Program Can Help Grow Restaurant Profit Margins and Increase Employee Retention
In an industry notorious for tight profit margins, you’ve got to make money anywhere you can. That’s why serving alcohol is in most restaurants’ best interest.
A robust and thoughtful beverage program has the potential to make 20 percent or more in total revenue, but it doesn’t sell itself.
Your team needs the skill set to spot opportunities to increase revenue and minimize waste.
The only surefire way to tap into the earning potential of your beverage program is to educate your front-of-house teams. Teach them all about beer, wine, and spirits—then relate that knowledge to your beverage and food menu.
Crystal Hamilton, CEO and Founder of Knowbie, a new gamified beverage-service training app, knows a thing or two about the benefits of offering a unified training program and is here to break down the ROI.
What Is Beverage Service Training?
Most states require those handling alcoholic beverages to be certified in responsible service, which is a part of beverage service training. But, for this article, we’re skipping that step and jumping straight into training for stellar beverage service.
Profits increase when your team can confidently talk about wine, beer, and spirits and offer pairings to enhance the customer experience.
“By equipping service teams with the skills to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the products they serve, employers can elevate the level of service and create lasting relationships with guests,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton further described that building foundational knowledge allows your team to move away from transactional service toward relational service—which is far more successful at increasing customer satisfaction.
Much as it sounds, transactional service is when a server or bartender takes and delivers an order—without enhancing the experience.
With relational service, your team is leaning on emotional intelligence. They’re reading the room, asking questions, and considering guests as individuals and as a group.
They’re picking up all the clues available to create a personalized experience.
When you invest in beverage service training for your staff, you’re investing in their ability to sell your menu confidently and, hopefully, even be excited about it.
What Topics Should Be Covered When Training Beverage Service?
“When training employees on beer, wine, and spirits, employers should consider building an essential knowledge base that goes beyond memorization,” Hamilton shared. “It’s crucial to focus on cognitive understanding and critical thinking skills.”
Incorporating segments such as service demonstrations, tastings, and pairings is a great way to provide hands-on learning. Interactive learning offers a more profound comprehension of your wine, beer, and cocktail menus.
It’s also essential to go beyond the beverage and include topics that break down the “whys” behind the service aspect.
For example, if you train your team to upsell or suggest pairings, don’t just tell them to do it. Give them a reason by contextualizing the value for the business and themselves.
“I believe in empowering service teams, which means treating them like business owners,” Hamilton said. “We offer modules dedicated to the business aspect of being a service professional. Topics include effective table management, the art of suggestive selling, and sales performance and metrics.”
What’s the ROI in Beverage Service Training?
Supporting your team to excel in their roles creates an upstream effect resulting in multiple opportunities to increase revenue.
“While quantifying the exact ROI of training can be challenging, there are some very tangible ways that investing in training supports a hospitality team,” Hamilton said.
Knowbie’s Insights on the ROI of Beverage Service Training
1. Improved Employee Performance
Proper training enhances employees’ skills, knowledge, and confidence, leading to improved performance in their roles. This can result in increased efficiency, higher productivity, and a positive impact on the overall customer experience.
2. Increased Sales and Revenue
Knowledgeable staff can effectively upsell products, such as premium spirits or specialty cocktails, leading to increased sales and revenue generation for the business.
3. Enhanced Guest Satisfaction
Well-trained staff can provide better service, personalized recommendations, and expert knowledge about products. This contributes to improved guest satisfaction, leading to increased customer loyalty and positive reviews, ultimately driving repeat business.
4. Reduced Turnover Costs
Investing in employee training and development can enhance employee satisfaction and loyalty. This can lead to reduced turnover rates and the cost of hiring and training new staff.
5. Higher Employee Engagement
Engaged employees are more committed to their work, leading to improved teamwork, a positive work environment, and better customer interactions. Since 2020 employee engagement has fallen to 31%. Using team training as an engagement tool can help keep your team unified.
6. Attracting Top Talent
Offering robust training programs can position the establishment as an employer of choice, attracting skilled and ambitious talent, leading to higher-quality service and enhanced overall performance.
Additionally, coming out of the pandemic, we experienced an influx of established talent leaving the industry, creating a wave of new blood in the hospitality industry today.
Investing in training is more important than ever as established knowledge around the sequence of service isn’t being passed down as it once was.
“Implementing efficient systems and procedures reduces onboarding and training costs and ensures a consistent quality standard, a wise decision for a highly profit-driven bar program,” Hamilton said.
Should I Outsource Training for My Employees?
While it is possible to organize an in-house training program—it takes a lot of time, work, and upkeep to get that ROI you’re hoping for.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that your training program is consistent and unified to get the best results.
For many restaurants, investing in a program like Knowbie that’s dedicated to creating unified and scalable beverage training is more time and cost-effective in the long run.
“A unified training program allows establishments to easily update and adapt training content to reflect changing industry trends, menu offerings, or compliance and safety protocols,” Hamilton explained. “It also facilitates scalability, making expanding and onboarding new staff easier as the business grows.”
When outsourcing a training program, employers let the pros handle all the time-consuming stuff like building the curriculum and examinations or establishing processes for onboarding and tracking progress.
“Knowbie is meant to complement your training efforts. We handle the foundation, and you provide the context,” Hamilton said. “Giving your team the opportunity to taste and discuss your menu specifics supports each employee’s continuing education and upskilling. Making your time spent more efficient and effective.”
With Knowbie, you gain unlimited seats to onboard existing and new employees into the program. You can also customize your team’s learning environment within the app with logos, menus, and personalized messaging.
Knowbie’s training modules take a micro-learning approach, offering bite-sized training sessions that your team can access conveniently for efficient and self-paced learning.
Employers also gain access to an insightful dashboard to onboard new employees and monitor training progress.
If you calculate the time it takes to develop and manage this type of training, you will find that the productivity loss alone makes outsourcing worthwhile.
“Early data from our current Knowbie customers is promising,” Hamilton said. “We’ve received reports of an approximate increase of 30% in sales from service teams that adopt our unified training.”
So if you’re ready to tap into your FOH earning potential by offering robust beverage-service training—check out Knowbie today.