How to write a staff handbook for hospitality
Platform features
By Dan Bignold
Oct 12th, 2020
The staff training manual or company handbook is the most important training document a hospitality business ever creates. But writing it can seem a bit of drag. Small Batch Learning makes it easy with an editable template.

Staff handbook, training manual or company SOPs. Whatever you call it, it’s the most crucial training document a hospitality manager will ever produce. It will explain to all staff what they do, why they do it, and how they should do it. It will breed consistency in service and eliminate confusion.

It will also help new staff ask fewer of the same old questions that managers shouldn’t waste time having to answer individually every time. At the same time, it will encourage experienced staff to offer meaningful feedback from the frontline, possibly with details that management haven’t previously thought about.

A lot of venues, especially smaller ones without a back-office support team, find that creating a staff handbook becomes a huge undertaking. But the fact is, once you’ve written it, it’s done (apart from occasional updates), and all staff present and future will benefit – and repay your time and business by delivering better customer service.

At Small Batch Learning we’ve made it that little bit easier by creating a template that any manager can use to write their own training manual on their Small Batch Learning training learning platform. That document can then become the first training course that any staff complete when they sign up.

This is how it works:

  1. Once an outlet has got its online training platform set up on Small Batch Learning, they create a new Training Plan, then click “Add course from library”. One of the course options to choose is: “About Us & Internal SOPs [Template]”. Manager adds that course.
  2. Next, the platform manager clicks “customise” on the course, to allow them to edit (authorship changes from “SBL” to the outlet). Now the platform manager can open (not just preview) the course. Inside they’ll see seven lessons, covering: Our Business, Our Culture, Punctuality & Time Off, Expectations of Work, Before Service, During Service, During Service, and Drinks Service.
  3. To start writing any of those lessons, it’s the same process: the platform manager clicks “customise” to make the lesson editable, then opens it up.
  4. Inside each one, the platform manager will see each lesson further broken down by page topics, plus an explanation of what specific information we think needs to be added to that page. This example is page 1 of the “Our Culture” lesson – we think there should be something written here on the company values and ethos that the business wants staff to live and breathe.

This video covers the whole process in more detail:

Of course, in time, a manager can add all their own photos, videos (welcome messages from the owner are particularly effective), audio recordings, and even slides or other attachments.

But don’t sweat it. Remember: starting with something is better than continuing with nothing. It’s totally fine for you to start your company handbook with whatever you can achieve, then slowly flesh it out over the following months. How about adding 30 minutes to your calendar each week and dedicating that time to filling up your new manual?

At any rate, if you follow the structure we’ve created – and the specific topic headings for each page – your document will have covered 80% of the information that staff need to successfully start their position. (And completing that first 80% might only take you 20% of the total time you’ll eventually invest in this document).

Ready to go?

Here are some other tips for creating your “About Us & Internal SOPs” course on Small Batch Learning:

  • On the first page of the first lesson (“Our Business”) you can download an attachment called “SBL.Framework.Template.Course.SOPs.2020”. This framework gives you all the headings contained throughout the template course.
  • Use these headings to write your content on a separate document first, then copy and paste into the Small Batch Learning course. Why not write directly onto the platform? Small Batch Learning protects your content by not allowing anything to be copied and pasted off the screen. So, it’s much better to start the original on your own computer, because you won’t be able to take a copy off your training platform later (although of course you can edit and, if ever needed, delete it).
  • Think about asking your most trusted staff to contribute. This not only spreads the load, but taps into their experience, and will help give everyone a sense of purpose and value.
  • Add quizzes to each lesson. First of all, this helps re-enforce key learning outcomes. But second, if anything ever goes wrong with a staff member breaking SOPs in the future, you can show them their training record to prove that they previously understood the rules.
  • When you’ve finished, don’t forget to delete “[Template]” from the title. After all, it’s not a template anymore; it’s your real-life digital staff training manual!

Good luck!