5 Great Nuggets from CHART Members at the NRA Show

June 22, 2017 | 2804 Views

5 Great Nuggets from CHART Members at the NRA Show

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

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

Four years ago, I wrote a column for the CHART blog encouraging hospitality trainers to attend the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, and I feel that all of the reasons I listed in that piece are just as relevant today. The event provides a venue for those on the training side to forge stronger connections with their colleagues in operations, familiarize themselves with new vendors that offer products and services for managing and delivering training, and sample some amazing cuisine in one of the country’s best cities for restaurants.

But most importantly, the NRA show is another remarkable opportunity for CHART members to connect with and learn from one another. Even if you attend both conferences and several Regional Training Forums each year, you still only get a handful of days to network in-person with our other members. This show gives us a little more together time to discuss hospitality training issues while visiting the NRA and ServSafe booths, at our Sunday night reception, or whenever we run into each other in the aisles of McCormick Place.

Additionally, the NRA show offers an educational forum for our members to deliver presentations to the show attendees and share best practices from our industry. This year we had 11 CHART representatives present 8 different sessions on topics ranging from soft skills training, controlling training costs, and navigating new scheduling regulations.

Below are 5 great nuggets of advice I picked up from attending the various sessions:

Donna Herbel at NRA Show


Donna Herbel, Perkins & Marie Callender’s

1. Gamification can be an effective method for engaging employees in the training process. One example that you could use is Kahoot, a free app that allows trainers to design interactive quizzes for learning sessions. And unlike traditional training discussions where you might only hear from the top 2 or 3 participants, using a game like Kahoot allows everyone in the room to get involved with and get excited about the learning.



 Gabe Hosler at NRA Show

Gabe Hosler, Rubio’s Restaurants

2. We used to spend a lot of time searching for perfect team members, and then on Day 1 at Rubio’s, we would try to turn them into someone else by forcing them to follow a bunch of canned scripts when dealing with guests. It didn’t feel natural, and it didn’t work well, so now we provide our team members with a guide that outlines the basics of what to say, but then we invite them to add their own flourishes so that it feels more personal and more authentic.




 Danielle Dally at NRA

Danielle Dally, The Broadmoor

 3. We ask our staff members to provide a high level of hospitality to our guests, but we also ask them to provide that same level to the other employees. When we train new hires to make eye contact, smile, and greet those they encounter, for example, we ask them to do so with both guests and co-workers. Everyone should receive the same treatment whether they are staying at The Broadmoor or working at The Broadmoor.




 TJ Schier at NRA Show

TJ Schier, SMART Restaurant Group

 4. If an employee comes up with a cost-saving or sales-building idea, think about giving them a “fraction of the action.” By not keeping all of the money for yourself, you’ll forge a mutually beneficial relationship with your staff members and develop a workplace where you can both profit from their creative thinking. And that’s what will lead to more creative thinking from them in the future. 




 Mike Freeman at NRA Show

Mike Freeman, McAlister’s Deli

 5. We like to look through the lens of the learner when developing and implementing training and development materials at McAlister’s and tie-in a quality of life take-away for the end user to answer the question of “what’s in it for me” and get their buy-in. Just as we would create a marketing campaign to tell guests why they should buy a new product, we create these same types of campaigns to sell our new training materials to the employees.




The next National Restaurant Association show isn’t until May 2018, but it’s not too early to start planning and budgeting to attend (early registration starts in the fall and costs only $55). Also, if you have an idea for a presentation that you’d like to deliver, you can reach out to Tara Davey or the CHART Board to discuss that idea and learn how to submit it for consideration at the event.

I hope to see many of you in Chicago at next year’s NRA Show so you can share in this terrific experience!

CHART Community Discussion

Leave a comment

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment:

Comments (0)