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8 Reasons to Ditch Your Restaurant Training Manual (And Go Digital Instead)

8 Reasons to Ditch Your Restaurant Training Manual (And Go Digital Instead)

Picture of Nikol Moen

Nikol Moen

Learn why restaurants are swapping paper manuals for digital training. Discover benefits like real-time updates and easy performance tracking.

Your training manual. It’s your holy grail, the gold standard for training new hires to your brand standards. But if you’re still using an old-school, paper training manual, you’re risking running into a situation like this: a new hire just showed up for their shift, you don’t have any training manuals printed, and the printer is jammed… again.  

You finally get the manual printed and realize you never made that update you meant to last month. Do you throw away all the copies you’ve already printed and let them go to waste? Train the new hire with the out of date manual? Neither is a great option.

And when their training is done, where does that paper training manual end up? In a file cabinet somewhere, never to be looked at again (that is, if it doesn’t get lost before the new hire’s training is even over).

If this sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. Many restaurants and restaurant groups end up stuck in old-fashioned training methodologies, hoping for better outcomes and end up disappointed that employees are never properly trained. Luckily, there’s a new way to train. As a new generation of employees enter the workforce, it’s more important than ever to have an updated, automated training system that still adheres to your brand standards, but delivers unbelievable results. 

4 Limitations of Your Old-School, Paper Restaurant Training Manual

First, let’s review how your traditional paper training manual may be slowing down — and even hurting — your training process. 


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1. Training manuals not easily accessible.

There are a lot of steps to make sure your trainers have a paper training manual when they need them. You have to print them, make sure they’re stored someplace they can find them, print more when they run out, and find a place to keep them once the training is done. 

What if you don’t have printer paper, or the printer just decides not to work that day? What if you can’t track down the training manual on your computer to print more in the first place? Then your trainers don’t have what they need and your trainee probably won’t learn everything they need to know. You need an automated process that keeps every team member organized and ready to hit the training pavement the moment a new hire steps on the scene.

2. Paper training manuals are difficult to update.

Every time you need to make a change, you have to print new copies and make sure all the old copies are thrown away so your trainers don’t use them. It can be hard to make sure everyone is using the most up-to-date version, which can lead to inconsistencies in the training your new hires receive.

3. Paper training manuals are bad for the environment.

Consider this: if your training manual is just 20 pages long and you hire 20 employees per month, that’s 4,800 sheets of paper used per year — about half a pine tree’s worth, on average! And that’s not even considering any updates you make throughout the year. A digital approach to training can save you the headache of printing while reducing your restaurant’s carbon footprint.

4. You can’t track employee progress and performance.

How are you supposed to know how a trainee is doing just by looking at the training manual? A trainer might check off an item in the manual, but that doesn’t really tell you if the trainee grasps the concepts taught. Typically, there’s no clear place for the trainer to leave comments about the trainee’s performance.  

Paper manuals also give you limited assessment options. Written quizzes and exams can only tell you so much about a trainee’s actual performance and knowledge, and they take a long time to grade.

And if you have several trainees you need to track?  You’ll need to look through every training manual individually, without a central place to look at their performance altogether.

Consider a Digital Approach to Training Restaurant Employees

The limitations of using a paper training manual can be avoided altogether by making your training digital. Here are the advantages of using a digital training platform to train and track the performance of your team:

1. Digital training is accessible and flexible.

Trainers and trainees can access a digital training platform right from their mobile device. This eliminates last-minute printing snafus and allows every team member to access the most up-to-date version of training possible.

2. Digital training can be updated in real-time.

No longer will you need to keep track of printed versions of your paper training manual. With a digital training platform, all you have to do is make your update, click publish, and voilá! Everyone has access to the most up-to-date version. No more inconsistent training due to out-of-step training manuals.

3. Training can be more engaging.

Not everyone learns the same way. Some team members learn better with side-by-side training and others need an easy way to reference brand material until they master a skill. With digital training, you can add multimedia to your training checklist. From videos and floor plans to job aids and recipes, your digital training courses are constantly available and visually engaging for your entire team.

4. Tracking performance is a breeze.

One of the best features of a digital training platform: real-time data. With just a few clicks you can see what a trainee has learned, evaluate how they scored on their auto-graded quizzes, read any comments from their trainer, and see what they still have left to do.

How to Make the Switch From Traditional to Digital Training

Ready to make the move to digital? Here’s how you can start the digital evolution at your restaurant:

  1. Assess your current needs and resources. Is your current training still what your staff needs? Does your training manual need to be updated? Do you need to write or rewrite some quizzes? Needing to update your training shouldn’t stop you from investing in a digital platform now because top-tier platforms offer readymade courseware you can drag and drop into learning tracks for each role. However, knowing where your training materials currently stand can help you better evaluate which digital training platform would work best for your team based on the features they offer.

  2. Choose the right platform for your restaurant. You should pick a training platform that provides your managers, trainees, and trainers on-the-job at-their-fingertips access to the training they need. You’ll want to evaluate whether the platform includes readymade industry training courses, auto-graded quizzes, performance dashboards, communication newsfeeds, etc.

  3. Train your staff on the updated training methodology. They’re used to using a paper training manual. When you make the switch, they’ll need to know how to use digital tools for training if you really want it to stick. Luckily, today’s workforce is digital-savvy and open to better, faster ways of operating.

  4. Gather feedback from your team for continuous improvement. How does your training program need to improve so your employees always get the best training possible? 


Switching from old-school paper training to a digital platform can seem like a big change, but sticking with the status quo may only be delaying the inevitable. As today’s restaurants become more technologically advanced, you’ll want to consider adding your training program to your digital transformation strategy. After all, one of the most important assets is your people. Invest in personalized, robust, easy-to-update, mobile training for your people and you’ll see performance soar!