Mini golf and go-karts are all about fun, and owners and managers agree that training employees should be fun too. Candace Reim, franchise owner of Monster Mini Golf in Avon and Lafayette, Ind., said that her training strategy focuses on bringing the fun to customers. “We pride ourselves on our customer service and fun, entertaining environment,” she said. “Training a new hire on how to deliver fun to a customer is paramount.”
Jimmy Schunk, president of Cedar Creek Sports Center in Mount Juliet, Tenn., said he likes to make sure his employees have as much fun as his customers. “I demand they work hard and have fun when they are here,” he said. “A smile is mandatory!” David Watts, owner of Go Karts Plus in Monroe, Mich., agreed. “Making a fun work day is key,” he said. “If they are having a little fun, it’s easier to get young workers to help you run your business.”
At Keansburg Amusement Park and Runaway Rapids Family Waterpark in Keansburg, N.J., Owner Hank Gehlhuas takes a different training approach by staying serious. “The first and most important part we try to convey is the seriousness of the ride operator’s position,” he said. “We speak in terms of all the things that can go wrong and the consequences that can arise.”
New employee training should focus on great customer service, according to Kelby Miller, operations manager at Putt U Miniature Golf in Center Valley, Pa. “An enjoyable customer experience is the only thing that matters,” she said. “All other procedures and employee actions center around the customer being happy.” Miller added that happy employees lead to happy customers. “Happy and energetic employees are the key to great customer service,” she explained.
Miller suggested a unique tip to help emphasize customer service when training young employees. “The easiest way to get a 16-year-old to deliver outstanding customer service is to tell them, treat everyone like they’re your Grandmom,” she said.
At Stone Creek Miniature Golf in Geneva, Ill., Traci Wicks, director of marketing and public relations, said they also put a premium on customer service when training new employees. “Customer service is a top priority,” she said. “Our staff provide comprehensive training for all seasonal staff that includes high-level customer service standards.”
When training new employees, it helps to lead by example, according to Schunk. “I am going to work hard, have fun and make sure customers enjoy their visit,” he said. Sean McCabe, manager of Speed Raceway in Horsham, Pa., agreed. “A training method that works is setting clear, concise goals,” he said. “After agreeing on a clear goal I show the employee what the good behavior looks like myself out on the floor as the employee observes.”
Bev Hendricks, operating partner at Embassy Miniature Golf in San Antonio, Texas, lets her current employees set an example for trainees. “I always pair my new hires with my best employees,” she said. “I encourage the seasoned employee to teach the newbie all of the things that are important. It seems to mean more coming from a co-worker or peer than from an owner or supervisor.” Miller said she also lets new hires learn from seasoned employees. “We use a job shadow approach, getting the new employee to perform the task immediately after seeing someone else do the chore,” she said.
What is your top tip to succeed at teaching staff members new skills?
1. Hire the right people.
Miller: “Putt U cannot overstate the value of a great hire. Hire outgoing, polite, friendly, compassionate and ambitious people. We are adamant about employees demonstrating these natural traits.”
Wicks: “We hire the best staff who take pride in Geneva and the Geneva Park District facilities.”
2. Have fun.
Reim: “Remember we are a fun environment. Our customers come to Monster Mini Golf to create a memory with their family, friends and loved ones. The trainer needs to convey fun as well as process and procedure.”
3. Use positive reinforcement.
McCabe: “As I walk the floor throughout the shift I always try to find people doing something right so I can give praise and encouragement. Staff members tend to feed off of positive motivation.”
4. Make training hands-on.
Hendricks: “Everything here is hands-on. We teach all new hires by showing them the tasks and allowing them to do the tasks right away.”