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How to Train Your Staff on Your Mobile App



How to Train Your Staff on Your Mobile App

Training is crucial for running any successful business, especially restaurants. Employees need to be properly trained on all stations to ensure your customer service meets or exceeds expectations, and your product is made in accordance with your quality standards. When you introduce an app for your brand, you may not realize that educating your crew about the benefits of the app is critical. Simply introducing the app to guests via point of sale displays on the counter won’t cut it. Even though many of today’s employees have grown up using cell phones, they need to be trained on how to use your app and how to assist customers with it when necessary.

For example, when we created the Penn Station East Coast Subs loyalty app, we slowly integrated different features and focused on training the employees before promoting the app heavily. Now with online ordering integrated into the app, ticket averages have increased while phone-in orders have decreased, freeing up time employees are on the phone taking orders. It’s more efficient for both the guests and crew alike, and the app can make a difference in your bottom line. Make sure your employees are trained on how to use it first.


Give employees specific instructions.

Employees need to know how to use the app themselves so they can help customers. This means managers need to train employees on the app just as they would any other station or part of the restaurant. It’s great to incorporate it into your training program. At a minimum, make sure employees know how to download the app and use the in-store features like the loyalty program, mobile pay options or how to redeem rewards. A first step to teaching others is to download and learn the app yourself, so that is a great place for employees to start.

Most restaurants will promote their app with signage near the register or on the front door, but may not think to also have detailed instructions behind the counter to help employees with key steps like downloading the app or paying for an order. If your app includes a loyalty program, the details of how customers earn and redeem rewards should also be written out for employees. Screenshots of key screens can help employees familiarize themselves with the app.

Employees should know where to direct customers if they have questions or concerns about the app. Create a document that shows employees how to navigate the support section of the app. It’s also good for employees to have an email address or phone number to give customers in case the app isn’t working properly or the employee doesn’t know the answer to a specific question. Employees should know they are not expected to be technical support, so directing any problems to the app support agents is the best strategy.


Create materials for customers.

A sign near the register or an employee asking customers if they have the app is great ways to promote your mobile app in the restaurant. Having cards with download and registration instructions can also promote the app and ensure customers will be able to successfully download it. A card allows customers to have a reminder to download the app on their own time without holding up the line. Encourage customers to download the app by including a free loyalty reward—and advertise this on the card.


Be prepared for issues.

Technology occasionally breaks and bugs appear in apps, so it’s important to have a strategy in place before issues arise. Give franchisees or general managers the contact information for your point person on the app—whether it is internal or at the app development company—and instruct them on when and how to contact that person. For example, if several customers are having the same issue, it’s worth checking to see if the problem is with the app. You should also tell franchisees what kind of information the app company will need to find a trend or determine if it’s an isolated event. Is the issue only happening on one type of device? What is the error message? Does restarting the device fix it? The more information you can give the developers, the quicker they can fix the bug. Including a checklist with these common questions in the troubleshooting guide will be very helpful when calling the app support team.

If employees aren’t educated on the app, how to use it and the perks and benefits it offers, the guest won’t be engaged, and the app will become nothing more than an expensive toy no one uses or benefits from. The entire point of having an app is getting your customers to use it. This means your employees must be able to help customers with the app in the restaurant. With a firm understanding of how to use the app, they will feel comfortable discussing the app with your guests, and you’ll get more out of your investment in your mobile app.

Craig Dunaway has been president of Penn Station since 1999. Before joining Penn Station Inc., Dunaway was a partner at the regional accounting firm of McCauley, Nicolas & Company, LLC in Jeffersonville, Indiana, where he had worked since 1982 in various staff and managerial positions. Dunaway has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Indiana University and is still a licensed CPA. Dunaway formerly had ownership interests in a Papa John’s® franchisee that owned 11 stores, and he served as the secretary/treasurer for that Papa John’s® franchisee. In addition, he had ownership interests in Coastal Cheesesteaks, LLC (headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina) until June 2011 and in Louisville Cheesesteaks, LLC (headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky) until January 2014, both of which are Penn Station franchisees. While a shareholder in those Penn Station franchisees, Dunaway served as secretary/treasurer. Penn Station was named one of the Best Franchises to Buy by Forbes in 2016 and 2018 and one of the Best Franchise Deals by QSR Magazine in 2016 and 2017.