Safety with a Smile
Staff Training Strategies
During the summer months, kids and adults alike will be spending their days having fun trying their hands at popular activities including miniature golf and go-karting. Managers at venues that offer these attractions go to great lengths to ensure safety as well as fun for their guests. Staff training strategies vary depending on the size and type of the facility, but one tip emerges as paramount: safety must be maintained with a smile.
At Broadway Grand Prix in Myrtle Beach, S.C., “everything we do begins and ends with a smile,” said General Manager David Melton. During peak season, Broadway Grand Prix employs 150 staff members, and all are trained personally by Melton. The focus of the two-hour orientation is “to make each person aware of their importance to the team and how they can have an influence on the company,” explained Melton. “The biggest tool that everyone has is their smile.” As part of staff training, employees learn how to calibrate their most important tool: their smiler.
After orientation, employees go through other stages of hands-on training where they meet with a series of supervisors and mentor trainers. When it comes to employee dress code, it’s a matter of function over fashion. “We talk to our employees about uniforms and how they should look – what is acceptable and what is not,” explained Melton. As an incentive program for employees, Broadway Grand Prix awards Bonus Bucks to staff when they are seen doing something good and the employee is rewarded on the spot. Staff can cash the Bonus Bucks in for different items or enter them in for a drawing for larger prizes such as iPads and Play Stations.
For 19 years, Rogue Valley Family Fun Center in Central Point, Ore., has adapted to the individual needs of each employee in order to thoroughly train him or her. “Each employee is different and learns in different ways. Some learn hands-on and some are visual learners. It’s important to get a feel for each employee. Employee training takes about a week,” explained General Manager Matt Chubb. In addition to going through orientation and reviewing the company handbook, each employee is required to watch a go-kart operation DVD and a safety DVD made by the go-kart manufacturer. Chubb also explained the value of getting employees invested in the company. “Make sure they feel that their opinions and what they say are valued by the company. If they are engaged, typically they will do a really good job for you. They will respond to your instruction,” Chubb said.
As part of the interview process, employees are instructed on the company dress policy and are trained to show up to work looking neat, clean and wearing a name tag. “The employee’s job is to make guests feel more comfortable. We tell employees they need to smile. It’s the most important thing,” Chubb said.
In North Richland Hills, Texas, just outside of Fort Worth, Mountasia Family Fun Center sits on more than 12 acres of land and employs about 40 team members during peak season. In business since the early 1990s, Mountasia has a few tips they use to motivate staff to do the best job possible: “Keep it simple, safe, clean, friendly. Follow the Golden Rule. Have fun.”
To make sure staff members are trained thoroughly, a combination of written materials, checklists and hands-on experience are utilized. “Staff receive a general orientation on park policies and procedures and are then paired with a lead foreman for initial training and certification. New staff routinely shadow with other experienced team members during their first several shifts,” explained General Manager Bill Wofford. Due to increased hiring in the spring months, the entire staff receives recertification. “We finish off with a ‘dress rehearsal’ evening prior to spring break with all the staff. It serves as a confidence builder and also helps us identify any deficiencies so we can correct them,” Wofford said.
Located on 10 acres of beautiful countryside in Hershey, Pa., Adventure Sports in Hershey is a family-owned and operated family entertainment center celebrating 25 years in business. With approximately 45 seasonal employees, hands-on staff training is done in a group setting for go-karts every year. “For the other attractions we use the buddy system. We partner up a veteran team member with a new hire for several weeks and train on the floor,” explained Operations and Human Resources Manager Jessica Raber.
When it comes to keeping staff motivated, Raber’s top tip is positive reinforcement. “A compliment is free and goes a long way,” said Raber. Providing monthly staff outings are another motivational incentive for staff. “Over the years we have done off-site activities including paint ball [and] indoor laser tag. However, their favorite is after hour parties here at Adventure Sports,” Raber said.
Skull Island Sports World has been in business for the past 54 years and is run by four generations of family members. Located in Cape Cod, Mass., this family entertainment center has about 20 employees in the summertime and focuses on hands-on training for staff members. “We try and keep the job fun and make it an enjoyable place to work so [the employees] will want to come back and work for us year after year,” said General Manager Jeff Nickinello.
It’s evident that managers are taking the time to teach their employees thoroughly to make sure each guest has a safe and fun experience. So, next time you have a staff training session, just remember: safety with a smile!