CHARLESTON, SC, August 1, 2016 — At the CHART 92nd Hospitality Training Conference, Lisa Schweickert, Vice President of Training for Golden Corral Corporation, co-presented with John Poulos, Vice President of Sales for DiscoverLink, on how Golden Corral made the move to 100% online for its Manager In Training (MIT) program. More than 50 attendees learned in detail about the techniques and tools used to make this monumental transition.
Golden Corral is the No. 1 chain in the buffet restaurant category, with 484 restaurants and system-wide sales of $1.74 billion. Although Golden Corral has been a DiscoverLink client since 2003, their 10-week MIT program previously included significant classroom training at its Raleigh, NC, headquarters.
During the breakout session, Schweickert explained that the goal of the initiative was to develop the best trained manager candidates. Although their existing program was performing well, in the spirit of continuous improvement, Golden Corral management challenged Schweickert’s team to better prepare MIT candidates for the challenges they face as they step into their manager roles.
After benchmarking best practices from other large restaurant chains, they decided to transition to a candidate-driven, just-in-time training approach with increased use of technology and less travel required. The hypothesis was that they could produce better prepared candidates by training some skills closer to the time of need through a blended learning approach that was fully tracked online. After presenting to senior management in April 2014, Schweickert’s team worked with DiscoverLink to start a 15-candidate pilot of the new program by September, 2014. The new program was fully rolled out in May of 2015.
As part of the initiative, Golden Corral also migrated from its original DiscoverLink e-learning platform to DiscoverLink Talent, an e-learning solution built from the ground up to meet the needs of the hospitality industry. Poulos discussed how the new system allows the Golden Corral team to track all learning activities and monitor progress of its MIT candidates. He shared in detail how the system supports the entire process with the use of:
- Categorized to-do lists that provide candidates with clear next steps at each point along the way
- Dynamic dashboards that allow complete visibility of MIT progress to General Managers, District Managers and the Training Center
- Resource center where support materials and on-demand resources are stored and easily accessed any time by candidates
- Checklists that are used to track on the job training and completion of offline assignments
- Surveys that are used to get feedback from MIT candidates throughout the program to ensure their development is on track
Since March 2015, more than 500 candidates have been through the program or are currently in training, and the results are nothing short of dramatic. Golden Corral has compared financial results, people results and guest results for both Kitchen Managers and Hospitality Managers to see how new candidates perform as compared to peers with more than six months of experience. The graph below illustrates, for example, how Hospitality Managers trained under the new program (Q4 2015 in red and Q1 2016 in green) compare to managers trained under the old program (Q1 2015 in blue), with the center of the graph representing the performance of experienced managers. As you can see, the new program is producing candidates who perform more closely to experienced managers.
In addition, although not an objective of the program, Golden Corral is experiencing cost savings of about $1,000 per candidate compared to the prior program, primarily due to reduced travel expenses.