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08/10/2022

“You Must Learn Before You Can Teach”

Felicia White has held various training leadership roles over the past 15 years. Now, she’s kicked off her tenure as Director of Franchise Training at Scooter’s Coffee by going “back to basics,” enrolling in the brand’s in-store training program.
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Felicia White

A couple weeks after starting a new job with a new organization, I found myself in the student role. Here I was, not in a suit, holding a “clicker” and speaking from intricately designed PowerPoint slides. I was in a t-shirt, apron, and sneakers trying to remember the recipe for a blended Carmelicious with an extra shot of espresso (yes it is as good as it sounds), after having earlier arrived for a 4:15am shift. 

You read that correctly: 4:15am.

I was nearing the first week of in-store training where the training manager, Sam, was showing me how to make drinks, clean the store, count inventory, and… well I could go on, but you are restaurant people, you know the drill.

My point is I found myself in the trainee role for the first time in a long time. I’ve been in a student mode, working on my PhD for the last two years now, but this was different. In my new job as Director of Franchise Training at Scooter’s Coffee, I must learn the ins and outs of the operation before I could be effective in my new role leading training.

I have 14+ years of experience leading training, but I didn’t have 14+ years of experience training at Scooter’s Coffee. There were three key points I kept in mind as I entered my new training role:

  • Experience. Yes, from the interviews I gathered there were opportunities for which I could be of value, however they were only speculative. I needed to experience training for myself.
  • What’s good? I didn’t want to come in and totally “blow things up”. I recognize there are some great things currently in place. Otherwise, the organization would not be as strong, competitive, and successful as it is if there wasn’t.
  • Begin with the end in mind. The primary audience for training will be those who interface with the guests on a daily basis. The franchisees, the managers, and the baristas. Therefore I had to experience life as all three, so whatever changes I make, are made with those persons in mind. 

I have made it a goal to experience every current learning program before I begin work to enhance them. I have a wealth of knowledge about tools, systems, and methods, but I need to understand which works best at this organization.

Top Women in Restaurant Technology Innovator Felicia White helps QSR  achieve a 90% increase in training completions at the unit level.

From my training experience I have had a chance to receive first-hand feedback and input from the frontline employees, as I’ve asked questions like:

  • “Why do you do it this way, that’s not in the manual?” 
  • “Why don’t you use this tool/system?”
  • “What do you wish you had to make training your teams easier?”

And the answers I have received are the footprint for my strategic plan going forward.

Training is a support center. We have the responsibility to provide operators with the information they need to grow their business. Whatever the topic: compliance, HR, safety, operations; they are all working toward the aforementioned end goal.

As I start transitioning into my role as Director of Franchise Training at Scooter’s Coffee, I know I will be in a trainee role for months to come, which is exciting. 

I get to learn, so I can teach. 

About the Author

Felicia White was recognized as a HT's Top Women in Restaurant Technology - Innovator  in 2020. She has held various training leadership roles over the past 15 years. She kicked off her tenure as Director of Franchise Training at Scooter’s Coffee by going “back to basics,” enrolling in the brand’s in-store training program.