Ok so we have our staff that we think will offer the best chance for success. We’ve chosen them carefully and determined where we will plug them in. Some of them will rotate within the venue between activities to give direction and make sure our guests have a great experience and create lasting memories. Some of them will be on the front lines and set the tone for friendliness and customer service. They will be our cashiers and our greeters. They will take the lead at the information board and manage some of the other staff responsibilities. They may also lead tours and provide educational opportunities throughout the day. We have also secured capable adults to drive tractors and run the exciting parts of our venues that carry a greater responsibility. They are hand-picked and ready to go. So, what could be next?
Here’s where you need to be prepared to offer a thorough, well thought out plan to train your staff to be successful. I would go as far as to encourage you to sit down and write out a plan of action in the form of a training manual that you can use as a resource. One that considers every facet of your agritourism venue and the actual individual activities that you offer. List them:
Then take each one and write out important aspects of each one that pertain how to properly operate that activity. List everything you can think of so that you are familiarizing yourself with the possible pitfalls of each one. This is a great exercise for you as an owner so that you’ve thought through how your operation should operate at the highest level. It may seem tedious, but this will be a great foundation and something you can tweak and improve as you learn and grow. Of course, as you add to your venue, you can add to your manual. How much you actual use this manual in your staff training is up to you. But if you and your main management are familiar with your operation, you can communicate it with your seasonal staff however you choose.
But the nuts and bolts of your venue are only part of what you do. I believe your manual should also be comprised of two main parts. For ease of understanding I will call them “Who we Are” and “What we Do”.
Who we Are
These two areas cover the whole of your organization. The first thing we want our staff to understand is what agritourism is all about. Why do we do this and what are we trying to create through this venue? It is the intangible experience that we want each guest to be a part of that they can’t find anywhere else. When we explain this to our staff before the season begins it becomes a part of how we operate when the guests begin to arrive. It is the foundation for why character is so important to you when you hire your staff. And it is why you have an expectation that your staff will treat your guests in such a way that their visit will be a great memory for them and their family. This is a unique business. Your goal goes far beyond just offering a product, so it is important to help your staff understand this as well. Stores offer products, but are not designed to create an experience. We offer far more that cannot be carried home in a bag!
What we Do
This is the nuts and bolts that we already touched on. The necessary part of any business, but hopefully well thought out as to why we chose particular activities to be part of our venue. These are specific and detailed to cover all possible scenarios relevant to that activity. This part of the training manual is done in such a way that a staff member can read through it and have a good understanding of what is expected of them. Again, the bulk of the work will be when you do the initial draft. It will be much simpler in the future to adjust and add to it.
So, I’ve created this magnificent document and it looks official. How do I use it? Well, that is strictly up to you. I would expect your partners and upper management to read it for sure. They can also make suggestions for changes and additions as they are the most familiar with your mission statement and your operations.
You may also want your staff to have a copy to read as they are hired. Maybe something to read before your formal staff training day so that they are at least familiar with it so that you are not “teaching” them everything during those few hours you have them before the big kick-off.
You may also want to have them read only portions of your literary masterpiece. If you know they will only be in a limited role because they are a new staff member, perhaps you limit them to only portions of the manual.
These are general guidelines because all our venues are different. I realize some venues offer dozens of possible staffing possibilities at various levels while others only hire a handful of staff that need to be primarily mature adults. Use discretion, but I urge you to think through this aspect of your business. Anything we do on purpose to create a better working environment can only be good in the long run. And keep in mind that where you are in the process will determine how this gets implemented. Obviously, some of us already have this in place. And some of us are using seasoned staff to train the new recruits. Whatever you do, the bottom line is training your staff to fully understand your vision no matter how you get that done!
Thanks for listening. I want to go a little deeper next time and explore some methods for training that are highly effective when you plan that day when you will bring your staff together to communicate the “master plan”. Next time I will cover what should be part of your staff training day. We’ll cover a couple methods that make it fun to learn and easier to grasp! Have a great week and hoping you are busy getting ready for a new season of agritourism!