While the pandemic led to closed dining rooms, cancelled events and new ways of serving customers, it also opened up new business channels and opportunities to work more efficiently.

At Dickey’s Barbecue University, our new barbecue pit franchisees are immersed in the art of great barbecue with in-depth instruction on managing a business and serving guests. While our franchisees are well-versed in the day-to-day operations, COVID-19 brought an onslaught of new operational procedures that we needed to teach overnight. With everyone facing limited in-person interactions, we decided now was the time to heavily invest in our online training program, Barbecue University Online.

We upgraded our Barbecue University Online program to encourage engagement through a rewards-based system, which in-turn offers greater parity between stores and added more in-depth courses on a variety of topics. Since enhancing our online training program, we’ve been pleased with the engagement and reach this solution has offered our team. While nothing compares to a hands-on training experience working the pit or cutting a brisket, our advanced program gives franchisees and Pit Crews a catalyst to initiate and improve tricks of the trade from wherever they’re working. Ultimately, empowering your franchisees and store team members to partake in ongoing education practices is how you grow as a brand and thrive in a post-pandemic world. 

Here are three things to consider when investing in online training:

Training platforms should be engaging and frictionless. When training franchisees online, the technology must be user-friendly, as well as loaded with content that adds value. Our brand invested in making updates to our proprietary online learning system, adding robust multimedia and enhancing the user experience by offering each job role course in English and Spanish. In addition to teaching the primary functions of operating a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit location, our barbecue franchise videos on the platform include the latest health and safety protocols enforced in our restaurants. We added special courses on COVID-19, Cleaning and Sanitation, Social Distancing and Reopening to ensure all franchisees and Pit Crew members are informed on pandemic best practices.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Franchisees can expand their knowledge with specialized courses online. Online training allows our trainers to go beyond the basics and add specialized courses with in-depth information on key components of the business. We can provide specific video instruction on best practices for catering, community marketing, direct delivery, and bar services. When franchisees have the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in an area of their business on their own, they have more confidence to use the skills they’ve learned and marry the principals to the needs of their restaurant.

Online training offers measurable results. While we still include the same A-Z instructions for our franchisees, we are consistently upgrading these teachings by providing the same information across the board. In-person training is only as good as the trainer. With online learning systems, you can utilize advanced analytics to oversee the training process and develop success metrics. Analytics can be a way for you to reward and offer recognition for employees through customized badges and certifications. For example, if you see a franchisee has watched several videos on making cocktails, you can award him or her a “Mixology Master Badge.”

Our world is evolving rapidly, and with that, our businesses have to evolve, too. Some of the processes we implement now for safety reasons can become valuable assets to our business in the future. During the pandemic, we have stayed open to new ideas and created processes that will propel our business long-term. Dickey’s franchise online training platform is here to stay. It is the best way to keep our franchisees updated and connected as we look into to the future of a post-COVID world.

Laura Rea Dickey currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. During her time as CEO, Dickey has taken the family-owned brand to new heights by overseeing the development of their first international locations with restaurants in the UAE, specifically Abu Dabi and Dubai. Dickey also helped pioneer the third-party delivery program for the brand, contributing to positive same stores sales in all digital channels for the past three years.

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