Top 5 Questions to Ask Training Vendors
Director of Innovation, Recruiting and Training for Ivar’s Restaurants
Past CHART President
The use of external training resources is on the rise according to the 2019 Trends in Hospitality Training & Development Survey by Black Box Intelligence and CHART. In 2019, 75% of hospitality companies reported they are using external resources to create or administer training materials for them. That’s a considerable jump from the 67% who reported using them in 2017. So before you partner with a new training vendor, do some due diligence and make sure you’re getting the right fit for your investment.
Your Guide to Training Vendor Interviews
When searching for vendors to provide training programs and materials, the standard questions about cost, content customization, and implementation timelines are a great place to start. All of this information is necessary to make an informed decision. Like many hospitality executives, I follow this same path. But because the vetting process for external content can be a lot like a job interview, I like to dig a little deeper and ask vendors the same types of questions I would ask of a cook, cashier, or manager candidate. Here are my “go-to” questions when looking for a new training vendor:
Q1: “What work experience do you have in this industry?”
One of the first things I like to know is if any members of the vendor’s team have worked in a restaurant. If so, what did they do and for how long? Answering negatively isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but I find that those with a restaurant background have a stronger understanding of the day-to-day challenges we face. and can draw upon this background to create more engaging/relatable offerings that deliver better results.
Q2: “What are your goals?”
I have two reasons for asking this one: 1) I want to make sure that the vendor’s mission and vision are in sync with those of my company, as I find this alignment to be essential for a successful partnership, and 2) I want to know what they are working on for the future. They may have a great product today, but change is always happening in the hospitality industry (it’s never-ending!), and I’m interested in where they are headed in the future.
Q3: “Can you provide a list of references?”
This question is to ascertain which other restaurants or lodging properties the vendor has partnered with so that I can check 1) if the buyers felt their goals were met after purchasing the product, 2) whether the company oversold its abilities to deliver on its promises, and 3) if the business relationship changed after the provider was selected.
Q4: “What would you like to know about our company?”
Vendors who truly want my business should respond by asking questions to ensure they understand what my company’s specific needs are. I’d be extremely wary of any provider who assumes our performance gaps are like every other restaurant and doesn’t do their due diligence on our current situation.
Q5: “Are they wowing me?”
My final question is one I ask of myself. Like candidates in an interview, this vetting process is where providers are most likely putting forth their best efforts to impress me, and I know it’s probably not going to get better once I hire them. If I don’t feel like they’re bringing their A-game and they are ready, willing, and able to take our company to the next level, then there’s no reason to schedule follow-up meetings.
Take Time to Get the Right Training Vendors
The training vendors you select shouldn’t be thought of simply as external organizations with loose ties to your company. They’re integral partners who can elevate overall performance, and just like when searching for the best employees to take care of your guests, you need to take the time to ask all the necessary questions and make sure they’ll be the right fit.