You Get What You (Don’t) Pay For

October 27, 2016 | 3897 Views

You Get What You (Don’t) Pay For

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training | Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants

When I got my start in the world of hospitality training back in 1999, I was given a very tight budget in my role as Ivar’s Training Manager. For the different workshops I was tasked with creating, for example, the company would pay for the attendees’ time in the session, and I could use one of our banquet rooms without being charged, but those were the only costs that were covered. Everything else, including training props, flipcharts and easels, prizes, and snacks, were not included, so I either had to 1) pay for them myself, or 2) rely heavily on whatever free stuff I could get my hands on…and eventually I became pretty good at the latter option.

More than 15 years have passed since that time and thankfully my budget has grown considerably, but I still try to seek out no-cost training resources to help keep my expenses as low as possible. Below is a list of 10 of my favorite sources of freebies that I would like to share with you:

  1. YouTube ( – As a one-person training department that works with five separate operating divisions (and handles recruiting for these divisions as well), I don’t always have the time to create customized training videos for every need in our organization. But I do have time to search through YouTube, and I can almost always quickly find something suitable and ready-to-go from its millions of submissions. YouTube is definitely my #1 source for free hospitality training content! Be sure to view the over 100 videos on  CHART's YouTube channel.
  2. Udemy ( – This site is a marketplace for online learning that offers more than 40,000 different courses covering a wide variety of subjects. Most of these offerings do cost money, but many are also free of charge, and I often find courses that will help develop the skills of our managers (especially for those who lack proficiency when using Microsoft Office products).
  3. Thiagi ( – A site that contains over 400 different training games where I can always find the perfect activity for a workshop. The list is gradually being moved over to the new Thiagi site (, but the old site will remain operational for the time being.
  4. Screencast-O-Matic ( – My favorite program for creating and sharing screen recordings, which I use when we need to show our managers a new online process. Screencast offers both a free option and a paid option (at only $15 per year).
  5. Dafont ( – The best free source for whatever font you need to create unique-looking training documents and presentations.
  6. Twitter ( – I don’t use Twitter that much for communicating with friends and colleagues, but it is my main source of information about what it going on in the hospitality industry. I follow both my state and the National Restaurant Association, numerous publications (Nation’s Restaurant News, QSR, Restaurant Business, etc.), CHART members and partners, local competitors, and business news outlets so that I’m up-to-date and not caught off guard, all without spending a dime. Start with following CHARTtrainers on Twitter.
  7. Amazon ( – The site where you can buy almost anything also has a large selection of free (or really, really low-cost) e-books covering all aspects of business, training, and hospitality. You do need an Amazon account to access the books, but you can read them online and don’t need a kindle or e-book device.
  8. The Training World ( – This site contains mostly free resources for trainers to help them design and deliver the most effective training experiences, regardless of topic.
  9. ( – On this site from long-time CHART member Jim Sullivan, subtitled “Where Leaders Go To Learn,” you’ll find some amazing free resources in three different areas: Fundamentals, Multi-Unit Leadership, and Templates & Forms.
  10. CHART Regional Training Forums, Blogs, and Webinars ( – Of course I couldn’t leave CHART off the list! Our incredibly-informative regional training forums are always free, both for members and non-members, and we have an ever-growing library of webinar recordings you should check out as well as blogs on a variety of topics.

Those are some of my most-frequented sources of free materials, but I would love to hear about your favorites! Please leave a comment in the discussion section and share where you get no-cost items that help in your role as a hospitality trainer.

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Comments (1)

  1. Jamie DeBrunner:
    Dec 07, 2016 at 08:43 PM

    Wow, thanks for sharing. I live on Maui and looking to help small actvitivy, tours and attraction companies. They have zero budgets and need help.

    Mahalo! Jamie DeBrunner