Training budgets are being cut in almost every segment of the hospitality industry, with casual and family dining chain operators experiencing the sharpest decline, according to a survey conducted by the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART). The results of the inaugural online survey of hospitality training professionals, conducted by Maritz Research, were presented during the organization’s annual conference in Cleveland on Monday. John Isbell, vice president of training and franchise services for Los Angeles-based Improv Comedy Clubs and CHART president, reported the findings.
While 64 percent of casual dining trainers, 57 percent of hotel trainers and 56 percent of upscale restaurant trainers reported budget cuts, only 36 percent of quick-service chain trainers did so. Nearly 40 percent of quick-service restaurant (QSR) trainers reported increases in their training budgets. QSR restaurant operators also spend the most on training: more than $3.1 million on average in the previous fiscal year, as compared to the average spend of $2 million annually for all respondents. Casual and family restaurants spent nearly $2 million, while upscale eatery operators spent slightly more than $2 million. Isbell and members of the audience attributed the higher spending in QSR to higher rates of turnover and also the trend of diners trading down from full-service to quick-service venues as the economy faltered.
Just more than one-third of total training budgets are devoted to hourly or line-level training programs, with nearly half going to support general and assistant manager training initiatives. Interestingly, the majority of trainers participating in the survey indicated that their companies spent less than $999 on career development per employee after the first 90 days of employment. Isbell indicated this is a “severe lack” of ongoing development support, which may be affecting performance and turnover.
On-the-job training remained the number one training methodology for all hospitality positions, with instructor-led coming in distant second and e-learning third. Attendees discussed that many companies had been ready to launch e-learning initiatives just as the economy nose-dived, forcing budget cuts that tabled the programs.
CHART will refine and field the study again to develop it as a benchmarking tool for the industry, according to Isbell. For more information on CHART and the study, visit www.chart.org.