Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Incorporates Technology for Every Day Training Use

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Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Incorporates Technology for Every Day Training Use

By ​​​​​​Chris Kelley, Dean of Barbecue University at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. - 09/21/2017
Chris Kelley, Dean of Barbecue University at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.
Chris Kelley, Dean of Barbecue University at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

At Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, we pride ourselves on serving communities across the nation Dickey’s authentic, slow-smoked, Texas-style barbecue. We can only do this if our franchisees are properly trained and given an opportunity to continue learning, which is why we created the training program we use today—one that is made possible by the adaptability of technology.   

Barbecue University—Into the Pit

The training program at Dickey’s begins with Barbecue University, a four-week course run by Dickey’s training team. In these four weeks, franchisees are not only taught the art of great barbecue, but also how to run a successful business. Recently, we changed the format of the first week of class, making it completely virtual. In this week, all franchisees watch videos, take quizzes and get certified before coming to Dallas for their hands-on learning. This virtual week gives our franchisees the opportunity to get familiar with some of the systems we use in the day to day operation of our store, and allows our training team to easily communicate with them, track their progress and assist them in any way they need during the first week to becoming a Pit Master.

For the last three weeks of the program, new franchisees travel straight to the heart of the Dickey’s Pit: Dallas. They experience the world of barbecue first-hand and are introduced to the art of great barbecue in Dickey’s training store on Wycliff Ave.; where Dickey’s tests all new technology, new products and most importantly, trains our new owners. This training store allows new franchisees to learn in a hands-on environment and experience how important technology is in our day-to-day business. Furthermore, they also begin interacting with customers in a live setting, instilling our belief that the guest experience is our top priority.

 Continuing Education: The Pit and Beyond  

Education and guidance from the training team continues long after the franchisee has graduated from Barbecue University and opens their new Dickey’s location.

Although Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has locations nationwide, technology continues to connect us to each and every franchisee and their Pit Crew across the system. We reach our franchisees and their Crew through multiple training channels. The first, is through continuing education in Barbecue University Online—a program that is beneficial to employees that have been with Dickey’s for years or have just became a member of the family. This is where how-to videos, one-sheeters, quizzes and any information on new systems, promotions and all other Pit Master essentials are housed. Through this, we continue to educate our franchisees so they can pass along their wisdom to their Pit Crew members, whether they be Dickey’s veterans or brand-new team members.

We also connect through daily training videos known to the Dickey’s family as Shift Meeting Training Video (SMTV). The training team creates a new SMTV video daily and requires every Dickey’s store employee to watch it at the beginning of every shift—our Home Office employees even watch them every morning to start the day on the right side of the Pit!

We began training through SMTV six years ago and have molded and shaped it into the powerhouse training tool it is today. Each segment contains sales, branding and training pieces—they are timely to what promotions are going on and serve as a general “how-to” which reinforce basic training and ensures all employees are up to Dickey’s standard. Talking numbers, out of the nearly 600 Dickey’s locations nationwide, the SMTV videos are sent out seven days a week and are watched twice a day during each shift meeting—that is A LOT of SMTV and an emphasis on maintaining excellence.

At Dickey’s, we enjoy being ahead of the curve on the implementation of technology for our stores’ everyday use. With that said, training videos are imperative for a seamless roll out of new technology to every store in the system—we need to be able to “show” our franchisees and their Pit Crews how new gear functions, demonstrate operational standards and re-iterate bottom line impacts. Most recently, we upped our online ordering options by creating partnerships with third party delivery vendors. This is something that some franchisees had zero experience with, so we created videos teaching them not only how to package food for delivery, but also how to create good relationships with the vendors and ensure happy guests.

Through our training efforts at Dickey’s, from Barbecue University to SMTV, technology is crucial for us to do what we love which is “make barbecue go boom”!