Bio: Meet Wade, the Food Service Supervisor of Pump N Pantry. He manages 17 convenience stores throughout PA with over 200 employees and has successfully implemented Keeping It Kleen’s food safety training in each of his stores. We asked Wade what his secrets were, and we thought we should share them with the rest of our participating members to help make your job a little easier.
Q: How did you manage to get your part time and younger employees engaged with Keeping It Kleen’s food safety training?
A: Many of our younger employees were actually the most receptive to the program and were interested in learning about food safety. Our employees felt that they were really being trained by us, but the great thing about Keeping It Kleen is that it took something off of our managers’ plates and gave them one less thing to worry about. Also, earning the Keeping It Kleen Certificates gave our employees a real sense of pride and accomplishment. If you walk into any of our stores, you’ll find those certificates displayed on the wall. Our employees especially liked this aspect of Keeping It Kleen because it made them feel like they’re part of our team at Pump N Pantry. Our customers notice the certificates and it’s great to see our employees openly talk about Keeping It Kleen and food safety.
Q: Have you seen any major improvements in your staff after being trained?
A: I have seen a big improvement in personal hygiene and hand washing in our employees. Many of our employees did not consistently wash their hands before putting on gloves, which in reality is a huge problem in the food industry. Foodservice employees tend to have a “bulletproof-vest” mindset that if they have gloves on, they do not need to wash their hands because they assume wearing those gloves will prevent any foodborne illnesses. Keeping It Kleen was an easy and effective way to help our employees understand the importance of hand washing prior to putting on gloves and handling food. Hand washing even became almost a running joke at Pump N Pantry with employees referring back to the Keeping It Kleen training videos. I can tell it’s really starting to catch on and not to mention it’s reassuring to know that employees understand food safety and they aren’t forgetting everything they learned a week later.
Q: Did you have any pushback from your managers about Keeping It Kleen and how did you handle it?
A: Some of our managers were completely on board with Keeping It Kleen, but then of course there were others that felt it was a waste of time. Our managers are already busy enough and thought they didn’t have time to go through the trainings with all of their employees on top of everything else they need to do. I actually ended up showing all of the managers the program so they understood how it worked and that each module was only a few minutes long with a short and easy test. The managers realized they don’t need to sit there and watch their employees take the training, and it’s actually taking something off their plate. They don’t need to teach all of their employees about the basics of food safety, which usually isn’t on the top anyone’s mind, even though we all know it should be.
Q: Let’s face it, there’s a lot of turnover in the food industry. How do you keep up with losing and hiring new employees?
A: Keeping It Kleen is going to be a long term and ongoing training program for us. We are making the program part of our onboarding process. All of our new hires go through an orientation, and now have to go through Keeping It Kleen training. We require all employees to take the personal hygiene module, and then depending on their job, we might send them a few more modules to take before starting their job.
When it comes to keeping track of all our employees and their progress with KIK, I get an updated list of current employees every month from our HR Department. That way when I see what employees are missing any modules online, I can delete the ones that no longer work for us or resend the training modules to employees that still need to take them. Even with over 200 employees, it’s easy for me to keep track of everyone.
We’ll be sending you some helpful tips from Wade and other foodservice professionals on how to effectively train for and keep up with food safety in your restaurant. If you would like to be a featured KIK Participating Member, we’d love to hear about and share your Kleen stories.
Q: What are some issues you had that you didn’t think of before starting with the trainings?
A: The computers in our convenience stores are a little outdated, so naturally when we first tried watching the training videos, we couldn’t get them to work because our Flash Player was outdated as well. After fixing that, we ran into another problem. Most of our computers did not have speakers that worked. We went out and bought headphones for all of our locations. These are just a few of the things that we didn’t even think of until we actually tried to do the training.
Q: How did you decide which employees to start sending the training modules to first?
A: I focused first on our full-time key employees and the ones that “like to talk”. These are the ones that I really wanted to become a fan of Keeping It Kleen so they could talk about it with our other employees. Once they had gone through the training and saw how easy it was, they freely shared their opinions of Keeping It Kleen, and getting the rest of our employees to take the online training was a piece of cake.