Training to Withstand the Test of Time

Time and time again when I am out in the field visiting sites, I notice when a site has poor staff training and it directly affects the guest experience for first-time customers. This is something my predecessors have also noticed in the past, and if this sounds like your center you are losing money! Staff is your number-one resource, don’t neglect them. Take a good hard look and ask yourself “Is this a facility I would like to visit?” If the answer is “no” you have work to do.

How to Start

Training and retraining your staff can be overwhelming if you don’t dissect the different areas of training that are needed into manageable, bite-sized pieces. This will help you to provide on-going training for your management team as well as for all of your staff members. You will see an increase in customer satisfaction and guest experience, which will affect the overall profitability of your site. If you have suffered from poor customer service in the past, persevere: it takes time to wash that bad taste from your customers’ mouths.

The first building block in a solid staff training program requires the correct person to manage and implement training. This staff member needs to be an excellent communicator, good listener and needs to understand the correct use of body language to emphasize the training process and deliver the program in a way that all the staff will understand.

Where to Focus

When you start evaluating your training program, outline what you wish to come from your training program. The most common area that needs improvement at laser tag sites is the brief before the game. Briefing is used for two purposes: to explain the rules and how to use the laser tag equipment. Briefing also provides you with some legal grounding if people break the rules and injure themselves while in the arena.

The second area where training should be evaluated is the front counter. Are your staff members upselling more games or other items such as token packages? Do they properly educate customers about game times, procedures and where to go when a game is called? Front counter staff is your first line of educators, they absolutely must know how the facility “ticks” so they can direct your customers to the specials they should use and how to best utilize their time while in your facility.

Another question to ask is how your staff sells the laser tag experience. If a customer were to ask “What is laser tag?” your staff should respond with a vivid description of what laser tag is. They should never just give a price, they should sell the experience.

Train for the unexpected: Does the staff know how to handle any emergencies that arise? Are they trained on the location of first aid kits, accident reports and the list of contacts in case of emergency? The faster you respond to an emergency the less it will cost you in the end.

When Should I Train?

Basic topics should be covered in a staff meeting that is often positioned before the start of a shift. Your manager needs to brief the staff on any parties, groups or special situations that are developing for the day. Like a general addressing the troops, your manager needs to make sure everyone’s “mission” is clear and that everyone is ready and prepared for the day.

Any complex training should be done on a monthly basis. You should hold mandatory training sessions at least once a month that last around 30 minutes to two hours. This will keep the staff up to date on any policy or rule changes that you have implemented. Also, use events during your shifts to further train your staff. Guest interruptions can easily translate into excellent learning opportunities.

Training will help with the overall morale of your staff as well. They will not feel like they have lost touch with the management and that their voices are heard. Training will affect the bottom line because happier staff often means happier guests. Laser tag facilities and attractions sell air, not a tangible product. It only takes one cranky staff person to derail an otherwise great experience!

Additional Suggestions

It is vital to your operations that staff understand that this is a team effort. Utilize the unique qualities of laser tag and run team building exercises for your staff. These same exercises should be used for new hires as well, with some help from, your current staff. A great marshal may get games in on time and with a great outcome, but they cannot do it if your front counter person is not signing up games and the party host is not bringing their party guests to the games!

Spend a great deal of time discussing proper communication and teaching your staff how to use any and all of the tools at their disposal. Public address systems, radios with headsets (a most necessary tool!), and lighting and effects are all helpful tools you can give your staff to communicate with your customers.

Everyone should know how to answer the phone, respond to basic questions and direct guests to your location.

As with any other aspect in a business, developing a successful training program does take time. Please contact the International Laser Tag Association, Inc. if you have any questions regarding training. –

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