Captain D’s Offers Industry-Leading Training and Support
From local and national marketing to in-store training up to and beyond opening, franchises are never without backup
When a Captain D’s franchise opens, it’s the last in a series of steps that have prepared the franchise owner, his or her staff, and the community for a new dining experience. Marketing to the community has made residents aware of Captain D’s. Corporate trainers have been on hand to work with the management and staff, and everyone from kitchen staff to the front-line customer service representatives are ready to go.
The training doesn’t stop when the grand-opening signs come down, either. Captain D’s prides itself on constant interaction with franchise locations. From information on recipes that are being tested in corporate kitchens to upgraded systems and software for inventory control, training and support is a permanent two-way street.
Initial training covers the bases
A major factor behind Captain D’s “ready on opening day” successes is the depth and breadth of the training opportunities made available to every employee, at every level.
“We have nationally certified training restaurants,” explains Nancy Ward, Assistant Vice President of Training. “These are company and franchise restaurants that have gone through a difficult and arduous process so they are able to train our future leaders. When someone signs on, we put them into a training program that is tailored to the capacity in which they’ll be working.”
For general managers, that means a six-week, intensive, hands-on program at a training restaurant. A multi-unit supervisor goes through a four-week version of that program, as do support managers.
“They learn all nine designated positions,” Nancy says. “They learn the tools and processes that go into successfully running restaurants. They learn how to place food orders, forecast needs, quarterback and coach, do marketing, purchase — all the ins and outs of running a business on a month-to-month basis.”
At training’s end, the management team visits the Captain D’s Restaurant Support Center, where they meet with the corporate personnel who will support them.
“We want them to be exposed to actual operations first and understand what the result looks like, and then they will have good questions about how all this works in their location,” Nancy explains. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to meet and share best practices, and give them a really good sendoff.”
Hands-on training preps employees
The restaurant opening is supported by a training team that is led by a training manager and seven certified trainers. These are salaried, corporate employees who work in corporate restaurants and know what needs to be done when opening a new restaurant.
“We come in a week before opening day and help train all the hourly members,” Nancy says. “We take anywhere from five to 60 people who have never operated a Captain D’s and have them setting sales records a week later. It’s quite something to see from beginning to end.”
The full training team stays onboard at the new restaurant for its first full week, so that there are plenty of seasoned backups for the new staff. But every day, the trainers step back a bit, letting the employees become more comfortable with their duties.
“We want to make sure they have the capacity to adjust schedules, make food orders … everything they have to do,” Nancy says. “By the second week, we drop back to three support people and are working more as coaches. We celebrate successes, grow competencies, and work on any problems. At the end of that second week, we’re usually able to pull the last of the trainers out.”
Ongoing support ensures continued success
Gone, but not forgotten. Support from corporate is only a phone call or email away, and the training staff makes several scheduled and unscheduled visits as a matter of course during those first few months.
“You are a part of the system, and we support you continuously,” Nancy says. “My department believes that our franchise owners and their managers are our customers. We come in after four weeks, then eight weeks and then six months. We are there when the Director of Franchise Operations does a full operation-standards audit. And any time something new is instituted, we have workshops and seminars to help everyone learn the new systems and get the right support. We have an intranet, so that everyone is in constant communication. We are an evolving, innovative brand, and so that kind of support is necessary all the time.”
This results in well-run restaurants with minimal staff turnover, and it also means that guests have a terrific dining experience from day one. That’s rare in the restaurant industry, especially the fast-casual sector.
“Nobody can do what we do,” Nancy says. “It’s so much more difficult to regain a guest than it is to meet and exceed their expectations right away. We have bright, brand-new restaurants with a fresh, new menu. People who have never been in before are amazed, and people who knew the old Captain D’s remember the hospitality and are pleased to see that we’re as friendly and service-oriented as ever. And that all comes from the initial, and ongoing training, that we provide.”