Frozen Dessert Success - Blog by Sentry Equipment

SPRING TRAINING: Is Your Staff Trained For Success?

Posted by Doug Lang

Apr 10, 2015 9:43:22 AM

Spring has finally sprung! Baseball teams are in Florida and Arizona preparing to come home for their Opening Days. The crocuses have finally popped up, and everything seems to be starting anew. Time to start thinking about other new things: flavors; products; menus; equipment; and employees. It is time to starting planning for what’s next, what’s right around the corner…. Summer, or the busy season for the frozen dessert industry! Hand in hand with more business goes the need for more employees, which means new employees, which means training.
Employee training is a common necessity for all businesses. While some do not enjoy the task, others are suited for it. No matter which side you fall on, it must be done. If you do not train newbies yourself, make sure you delegate the job to only one or two of your best, most trusted full time employees. Sit down with them and go over the training process, any new action items, and what you expect of them and the trainees. If everyone is on the same page to start, it will be easier for everyone.
Standards and Procedures
All establishments should have a training manual that is kept on premises at all times. Some items that should be included:
  • Current menu with prices

  • Pictures of products

  • Opening/Mid-day/Closing checklists

  • Uniform standards

  • Personal/Phone greetings

This manual should be checked regularly to make sure it is kept up to date. Go through this manual with new employees when they first start. Possibly have a photocopied, take home version to give them for reference as they get their feet wet.

Make sure you have 2 types of posted checklists for opening/mid-day/closing duties - these checklists should be comprehensive. The first list should be activities that need to be performed everyday: stocking; re-stocking; cleaning; equipment maintenance. These daily activities should be initialed by whoever performs each task, and signed-off on by a manager. Accountability is crucial to running a tight ship. The second should include action items for downtime, and instructions to ask if they’re unsure. You should never hear “I didn’t know what to do”. Both types of checklists should be detailed and comprehensive.


Be Friendly! The #1 Rule for any and all employees of Frozen Dessert stores is to be friendly! There are a lot of kids, families, and people on vacation, make sure your employees act accordingly. Monitor employees’ production and revisit training if necessary – some people tend to cut corners and slip as the year progresses. Check outgoing product to ensure consistency throughout your staff. You can help your staff cheat by posting advertisements with pictures of popular products throughout your store.

Be sure all of your employees know your menu inside and out – products, sizes, and what goes with what. There is nothing sadder than a newbie stumbling/mumbling for answers to questions about what you sell. Some are against ‘pop quizzes’, but you’re there to make money. Randomly asking simple unexpected questions about your menu to all your employees, new and experienced, keeps everyone on their toes!


So, your employees finally know all the products, now let’s kick it up a notch! It’s time to put the icing on the cake, or the sprinkles on the waffle cone as the case may be. Upselling is defined as a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. Basically, it’s an acceptable practice that can directly add to your profits by the end of the year. But, be sure your employees are not over-bearing and too sales-y. Explain the concept of suggestive selling or have you heard campaigns for new (higher priced) items. An example of suggestive selling: say one of your customers orders a cup or cone of chocolate chip mint ice cream without mentioning size. Your employee should inquire “Large?” – planting the seed in their mind’s eye. ‘Have you heard’ is exactly what you think. If there’s a moment of hesitation or silence, the customer should be asked “Have you heard about our new….” Both methods are simple, and both can be successful.

One common upselling practice is the nightly contest. Very often in restaurants servers compete to sell a particular special or dessert. Pick items to push each night – toppings, cone types, sizes – and then provide a prize (keep it simple - free sundae, promotional items, etc…) to whoever sells the most of that night’s item(s). It’s a great way to get your employees involved, have fun, and a little friendly competition can even be team building.

Uniforms & Cleanliness

Both are the first things customers see and notice when they walk into your establishment (I know I do). What is the top complaint of stores in the frozen dessert business? It was not clean. I cannot stress this enough. Be sure thorough cleaning duties are included on your opening and closing duties checklists. And make sure cleaning/wiping down is part of the downtime checklist. If standards and procedures are set, followed, and checked, this should not be an issue. Cliché time! Lead by example. If there’s time to lean there’s time to clean. Cleanliness is next to…. Well, you get the idea.

Cleanliness extends to employees too. No one wants to order their kids’ ice cream from an unkempt employee. The classic image of the Good Humor man is totally blown if they are unshaven, with a nose ring, and are wearing a stained apron or shirt. Now, you control what your workers can and cannot wear, but some guidelines:

  • No open toes – look around locally and recommend inexpensive work shoes.

  • No facial rings – nose, lip, tongue, etc….

  • Hair – either tied back or hats. And no twirling or playing with – if you do, wash your hands!

  • Uniforms – provide company shirts (1 or 2 free, pay for more?) to be worn with…. Khakis, jeans, whatever – as long as it’s uniform across the board.

Uniformity doesn’t end with appearance. Make sure the products being served and service is uniform. A customer should basically have the same experience no matter which employee is helping them.

The peak frozen dessert season is short, and you have to make the most of it. Providing the proper training to all employees will establish the foundation for a successful season. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss further, don’t hesitate to contact Sentry Equipment. We’re here to help.

Sentry Equipment 800.853.8026


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Topics: Employee Training