Teach to your Menu: Creating Product Training in ExpandShare

Product knowledge is key to selling in any industry, but it's particularly important in food service.  It might seem like a huge challenge to create effective training for your staff on your own, but it's really pretty darn easy.  

The goal is to create a collection of valuable content that you can send to your team. The key to accomplishing this is to keep it simple. Start with one menu item — like today’s featured appetizer.  You don't have to create your whole collection at once!

Make a sample of the feature appetizer. Make sure they pay close attention to plate presentation and making it look appealing.

Take a Photo

Now, using your smartphone, take a picture of the product.  This will be used as the preview that users see. 

Here are some tips for achieving the best results:

  • Use landscape mode
  • Make sure there's enough light
  • Choose the right angle:
    • 3/4 Angle: If it's important to see both the side and top view
    • Straight On: Where you want to show all the ingredients in a stack, like a burger or pancakes
    • Overhead: To show a visual of what's on a plate

Make a Disposable Video

Next, you’re going to make what we call a disposable video. This is a short, simple video that will give an overview of the dish. It should be no more than 2 minutes long. Again, keep it simple. Do it in a single take, or at most, two takes. No tripod needed and it does not have to be perfect. No edits. No post-production. These videos are for consumption on smartphones. Your audience will be used to seeing this type of video on YouTube and other media channels.=

To prepare, you need to know what you want to say about the product. Do you want to highlight portion size, plate presentation, special preparations or flavor? You don’t want to read directly from a script, but you do want to know this information before you start.

Next, what type of video do you want to make? There are two types to consider. You can do a selfie video where you talk about the product and then cut to showing the dish.  Or, you can do a product focus video where the product is shown the entire time, as you talk about the product.

Most smartphones have both selfie cameras and snapshot cameras included.

Talk about the product as if you’re telling your team about it. It’s okay to if it's not perfect!  A natural, conversational tone is fine.   And there's no need to find an actor to do the talking. However, if you do have someone in-house who likes to be on camera, by all means, use them as your on-screen talent.

Here are some best practices and tips for achieving the best results for shooting video with your smartphone:

Tips for Android:


Tips for iPhone:


For selfie videos: Don’t angle from above. Instead, get closer to your phone and tilt your head slightly. Smile and use exaggerated expressions — smartphone videos do not pick up subtle expressions very well.

For product focused videos: Get close to the product. Choose either an overhead view, 3/4 angle view, or straight on view depending on the product.

Remember, the most important thing is to get a collection of useful content that you can share with your team, so let it roll. Do it in chunks. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Share your Video

Now it's time to share your video with your team.  You could post it to YouTube or another video sharing site, but they are public and if there is proprietary information in there, you might not want to do that.  Besides, you want to track completion for each of your team members.

Another option is to build it into a course using one of the standard eLearning tools like Articulate or Captivate.  You can then upload it to a standard Learning Management System and track the results.  Of course, you may not have an LMS …

So (our favorite option) you could Instant Assign it to your team using ExpandShare. It’s super easy to do and does not require any additional software.  And you can also construct courses using the online course builder which will allow you to do quizzes and knowledge reviews as well.

You can even drip out your content and courses over time using the campaign tools.  But I digress.

In the end, the important thing is to get the content out to your users instead of inside your own head.  It’s not doing any good there.  And it won’t do much good sitting on your phone either.  So make it, and then share it!


9 Features You Gotta Have in a Restaurant eLearning Platform


This might seem like little more than shameless shilling for our Restaurant Ready training software—but there's a reason that we built these features into our system in the first place. That's because they're essential to making a learning program effective. So here goes, our top 9 training software features ...

1. Assignments.  It might sound obvious, but lots of training programs don't allow for assigning, they are essentially browsing systems.  Think Lynda.com or Udemy.  In a top down system, you need a way to assign content to your users so they get it, know they got it, and know they are done with it.  And you as an admin need to know that it's complete.

2. Mobile.  Everything is heading mobile, and so your platform not only needs to be mobile compatible, it should probably be mobile first.  And EVERYTHING needs to work on mobile.  Any exercises, questions and interactions need to be ready for the smaller, touch screen interface and possibly slower network speeds.

3. Library.  Your system has got to be able to store content for users to find. Imagine folders, PDFs, videos, manuals, etc. However, this is not a collaboration system like Google Drive where everyone can put stuff on it. It's designed to be a Library.  Libraries are managed.  The content in them is collected, curated and presented for users by a librarian.  In this case, that's probably you!  

4. Course Builder.  Many systems rely on expensive, cumbersome training software to develop courseware.  Your platform should have that built-in.  It should be no-hassle and easy to use and include video, quizzing, knowledge reviews, etc. 

5. Refresher TrainingKnowledge is not a one-time event.  Things get forgotten.  Users need to be tuned up.  Your system should allow for automated follow up training system which can distribute training over time—as a campaign.

6. Easy to Use.  Both the admin and user experience need to be simple and easy to use. If not, your engagement will drop and your training will suffer.  Look for a system that is simple and visual.

7. Engagement. The system needs to support many forms of user engagement, including push notifications, success feedback, email alerts, admin notification tools and reporting digests.  Gamification, competition and badging are also great ways to engage your team and groups.

8. Company Organization and Reporting.  Your platform should support hierarchies, locations and the related support for that structure. If not, you really won't get good data out of the system to know who is doing well and who's not. 

9. Integration and Customization. As you grow, especially mid-size and larger companies will have special needs, things like integrating into other in-house systems, customized features and specialized reporting.  Make sure the system is extensible and that the dev team for the company you choose has a track record of doing this kind of work.

Want to learn more about Restaurant Ready and maybe kick the tires and see how it works? 

FAQs About ExpandShare + Restaurant Ready

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We get lots of questions about why ExpandShare is right for restaurants. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions we get from restaurant owners and managers:


Why is training such a challenge for restaurants?  

There are a couple of reasons.  First, turnover in the foodservice industry is often high, which means you are training new employees all the time.  And in fact, good training can reduce turnover because one of the key reasons employees leave is that they report training as being poor or non-existent.  Also, restaurants are in the service business and are trying to promote a specific concept or model which can only be done through effective training of front line employees.  And in the back of the house, food cost, quality and food safety are all dependent on a well-trained kitchen staff.  

Why eLearning?  Why not do the live training like we are used to?

There is always going to be a hands-on, shoulder-to-shoulder component to restaurant training.  However, much of it can be offloaded to eLearning. Menus, procedures, company culture, rules--all of these can be taught using eLearning.  It’s always on, always the same, always available for when employees need it, right on their phones or computers.  It also costs less than live training, up to 70% less.  And finally, it’s trackable and automated which means you can quickly see who’s trained and who’s not and actually do something about it with just a few clicks.

Why does video work well for training restaurant employees?

Video training is particularly good for restaurant training because you can demonstrate concepts and information.  But it’s also the best way to engage with audiences, with more than 3x the engagement of written text documents and information.  But just putting videos online doesn’t cut it, you need to track it, assess the people watching it and have a training strategy behind it.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is short eLearning content which is designed to be easily digested by your audience.  Any training which can be taken in just a minute or two is considered microlearning.  Microlearning is perfect for engaging with modern audiences, and it allows people to take training without setting aside hours of their time.  It’s also a great way to do refresher training.

Can I have my employees do training outside of work?

It depends on your company policies and employment rules, but many restaurants would not hesitate to ask an employee to study the menu at home before they come to work--eLearning falls into the same category. We have clients who also require that employees take the training at work, on the clock, and some of them also compensate employees for after-hours coursework.

What the best way to use ExpandShare to maximize my training?

The best training programs are fleshed out over time with more and better content, constantly assessing, tracking and applying the competency of staff to business results.

For onboarding, it’s about having all the bases covered and making sure employees are up to speed. For ongoing training it’s about setting objectives and achieving them.  For example “I want to increase my dessert sales by 10%”.  Implement a training program to teach servers how to upsell desserts, track their knowledge and see if you impact the training results.  The platform gives you all the information and tools to be able to do that.

Can I use ExpandShare to keep already trained users up to speed?

Yes, you can!  You can create campaigns or “Roadmaps” of quizzes and content which can be delivered out over time, automatically.

Can I share resources and documents on ExpandShare?

Yes, that’s one of the primary features of the app--there is a visual library where any user can quickly click and find your key documents, resources, videos and other information.  You can also assign that information to users if you want to make sure they view it.

Is it mobile compatible?

ExpandShare is not just mobile compatible, it’s literally designed from the ground up to be a mobile experience. There are native apps for iOS and Android which support push notifications, but it also works equally well on a mobile browser.  And of course it works well on desktops and laptops too

How will this app help my restaurant make more money?

Here’s a stat for you from a national eLearning research foundation:  42% of companies using eLearning reported an increase in revenue after implementing their programs, and revenue per employee was reported to be 26% higher for companies that offer training using technology.

Where am I going to find the time to put together all this training and content?

We make it easy to get started.  You don’t have to build out a huge training program right away.  First, we include stock content on some key topics like food safety, alcohol safety and sales and upselling.  We also have fully-baked training courses created for positions like hosts and servers and bartenders.  But you can also just upload content that you already have, like, say, a menu or a handbook--then you can add a couple of questions as a quiz, and blast it out to your team.  It takes just a minute to do and you build your set of training content out over time and track it as you go.

Plus if you need extra help, it’s not very expensive for us to help you put together custom courses for your particular needs. We’re very hands-on.  

If you'd like to learn more about ExpandShare + Restaurant Ready, check it out HERE


US Foods Helps Restaurants Find Success

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Starting up a restaurant is hard. Running a restaurant is hard. Being successful and realizing the dream of every restaurant owner is even harder. Many owners have grand dreams and a good concept with tasty recipes, but it can be difficult to turn those basic elements into a successful enterprise.


Enter US Foods, who has been helping restaurants everywhere be successful. The company has a corps of Restaurant Operations Consultants (ROCs) standing by to help restaurants learn the ins and outs of making great food and making good money doing it. 

There are more than 80 ROCs covering every region in the US. So if you’re a restaurant owner looking for some solid advice, reach out to these folks.  Their services are available to any US Foods customer, and you can reach out to them at the ROC Page on the US Foods site

In addition, US Foods has a set of Value-Added Services partner companies, including every aspect of the industry from scheduling to marketing, liquor control to e-commerce.  These partners help provide the right tools to raise profits and lower costs.

Full disclosure, ExpandShare is one of the Value-Added Services partners, helping restaurants on the training front with our Restaurant Ready software and other tools for restaurants.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Value-Added Services program, you can find out more on their site.  It’s free to sign up! 

Five Tips on Training Restaurant Employees for Guest Experience

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Exceeding guests’ expectations begins with the culture of you restaurant, which is created by the restaurant managers and the employees themselves. This culture has a huge impact on guests and guest delight.

Here are five tips on creating the best possible environment for delighting guests.

  • Value your team. When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to provide top-notch customer service. In order to get this right, you need to train your managers and then incent them to do things that makes employees feel nurtured and valued.
  • Define who does what. Every team member should know what their responsibilities are and receive training to perform each.
  • Manager to store ratio. If you have multiple locations, keep the management ratio low. It's important for employees to have direct contact with owners and managers as often as possible.
  • Quality is Job 1. Teach everyone what quality means in both service and product. Then make sure everyone is an inspector—make the entire team responsible for quality and give everyone the power to “shut down the line” if the quality is not up to snuff.
  • Service is half the battle. Guests want to be treated well. And they want to be treated well consistently. Put together a model for guest interactions and teach it. Then take the time to make sure that everyone adheres to it—this can take a little while, but is worth the effort. It can be as simple as saying "my pleasure" when someone says "thank you."

One of the best ways to train the standards in any restaurant is to use some simple eLearning.  Find out more about how you can implement eLearning in your restaurant

Take Advantage of eLearning Possibilities in Your Restaurant


Training is an ongoing process that affects every employee in your establishment. Elearning allows you to provide training in an online format and make it available to all your employees on their devices.


However, you'll need both content and a delivery system in order to take advantage of eLearning. Here are some training tasks that eLearning systems can help restaurant managers handle:

First, you can deliver standard training courses on topics like customer service, table service, wine and liquor, handling problems and food safety. The easiest way to get started is to have some stock or standard courses available. You should look for a tool that has this kind of stock content built in.

However, you should plan on creating custom content to either replace or add-to the stock content, so you can train on practices and techniques which are unique to your restaurant.

In addition, you should plan on creating assessments in the form of knowledge checks which reinforce and test users's knowledge. The goal of these assessments is not to weed users out, but to reinforce their knowledge until you are sure they are ready to perform their job at a high level.

These courses should be organized by the different employee roles in your restaurant, like server, host, busser, bartender, dishwasher, etc. Some training information you would want to deliver to all employees, for example, an introduction to the company and its culture. Or how to clock in and clock out.

However, much of the training is specific to different roles and so you will want to be able to assign training to those specific groups of people and verify the performance, both of the group as well as individuals. Any good restaurant eLearning software is going to have reporting capabilities so you can identify and pinpoint any consistent improvement areas.

In addition to the initial "book learning" that restaurant employees need to cover, there are also practical tests, which usually involve shadowing followed by some sort of performance skill check. A good training system will enable this kind of skill check.

And finally, training is a continuous process. Employees need constant refresher training because best practices, menus, processes and information is always changing . In addition, key information can be forgotten or distorted over time, so it's always good to review the fundamentals, especially information that relates to the culture of the organization. Plan to offer regular refresher training to keep your staff up to snuff ongoing.


If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

Why you don't need an LMS

Learning Management Systems. A dreaded software category for most people who need to do eLearning. They're bulky, hard to use, hard to integrate, expensive.  And the cheaper ones just don't do what you really need them to do. 

LMS's have been poorly executed not because the software developers who create them are bad programmers, but rather because it's software that's trying too hard to be "off the shelf".

In many organizations, the whole online learning system has become so convoluted as to be unusable by any but the most dedicated. That's a problem. Unless you plan to have a dedicated resource who is going to do nothing but manage the LMS and its component parts, you should consider a different approach.

Let me explain.

Let's suppose you want to go deep sea fishing—a pretty complicated and expensive endeavor. How do you approach this pursuit? Do you buy a boat, purchase all of the fishing gear and tackle, plot out where you will fish and then set forth to go catch some marlin, ala Ernest Hemingway?

Maybe, if it's really the only thing you have to do.


But if not, it's more effective to charter with a captain who already knows the waters, has a ship, all the gear and knows where the best fish are to be found.  

We recommend the latter approach for most companies looking to be effective with their online training efforts. We call it Managed Learning Services.

It's easier and a lot faster to let a third party do the heavy lifting, things like implementing the LMS, building the courses, handling the tech work like audio and video and uploading and file formatting and creating custom reports and on and on. Preferably a company that spends all of their waking hours doing these things. They are going to do it better than you.

Why?  Well in our case, in addition to the experience, we also have developers on staff who have created and implemented learning systems for years. That means we can move very very fast in setting up your site, getting your users set up and your reporting exactly the way you want it.

It also means that we can do integrations like single sign-on and sharing data with other business systems that are all but impossible with off-the-shelf (supposedly) LMS software.

Let me give you an example of the type of advantage I'm talking about, a specific case.

One of our clients wanted to integrate sales data into a training performance report in order to see if there was correlation between sales training and sales results. We put together the technology to import the sales data along with the training data and formatted a report exactly as the client wanted to see it.  That took about three days to turn around.  Try that with your LMS and IT department.



Here's another one.

We had a client that wanted to show a map of reports from the learning system that showed performance support data from a set of checklists. So we integrated Google Maps and voila, now you can see the reports geographically on a map.  Want those pins to be green intead of red?  No problem.

The list goes on and on. A company that has the capabilities to do custom programming from an existing system architecture, as well as content development and design is a very powerful animal.

Our clients appreciate it because they can focus on things like working with subject matter experts (SMEs), monitoring users, updating content and measuring the effectiveness of the eLearning effort.

If you're interested in offloading some of your online training burden, let us know!

5 Screencasting Tools You Need to Create a Great Microlearning Video

Screencasting software is a necessary addition to any video microlearning toolbox. The ability to capture what's happening on your screen is not only useful for software walkthroughs, but allows you to quickly and easily create simple motion graphics videos using presentation programs like Keynote and PowerPoint.

Why use a Screencast instead of built in video exporters?

Both PowerPoint and Keynote have video export built in, but you should still use a screencasting tool to capture your vids.  Why?  

  • You can capture your voiceover at the same time and control the flow of the program
  • You can easily edit the resulting videos
  • You get additional features like the ability to record video from your webcam at the same time—so your audience gets to see your pretty face too!

There is a wide selection of screencast software out there, both free and paid solutions.  Here are is a list so you can start getting your microlearning video content up and running quickly.

Commercial Software

ScreenFlow by Telestream 

With ScreenFlow you can record any part of your monitor while also capturing your video camera, iOS device, microphone, multi-channel audio device and your computer audio.  It also has a built-in editor which is invaluable if you don't want to use a third-pary video program like FinalCut or Premier.

Camtasia by TechSmith

Camtasia offers a similar feature set with the ability to record your screen, webcam and also offers a feature rich video and audio editor which allows you to export your content seamlessly. 

Free Solutions

Camstudio.org  is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files.  Windows only.

Screencast-O-Matic is a  Java-based screencasting tool that requires no local software. Works on both Mac and Windows.

QuickTime is included with every modern Mac and allows you to do screen recordings without any additional software. If you want to edit your screencast or add audio you'll need additional editing software.

Sending your Microlearning

Once you've got your microlearnin videos set up, you need to send them out to your audience and track their performance.  Check out ExpandShare to see the easiest way to use your microlearning videos for refresher training or outbound learning.



All About Microlearning


Microlearning is all about the small, and it appears that small is the next big thing.

Tiny bursts of elearning in video (or any other highly digestible media) is defined as microlearning, and it usually means that the short subject of the training can be learned in a very short period of time.  It's a completely different approach than long-form training or macrolearning. 


Here are the defnining characteristics of microlearning:

  • It's narrowly focused
  • It's presented in small chunks
  • It's designed to have a minimal time impact on the learner

All of the above make microlearning perfect for mobile.  It's also ideal for refresher training, and for training on the most important topics.  Why would you use microlearning for your most important topics?  Because you can keep these key topics front and center without infringing on your students' time.  You could hit them up every day with the same key topic if it's mission critical.

Microlearning, when done well, can have the same enagagement and impact level as advertsing.  Ads have a HUGE impact in a very short span of time. The car companies don't need 12 hours of online learning to explain why you should buy their car. These types of messages are carefully crafted to make their point quickly and impactfully (a disclipline sorely lacking in the eLearning space).

Many have claimed that microlearning is the natural outcome of the millenial generation and their short attention spans.  There's some truth to that.  But it's also true that humans digest information in short "chunks" natively. It's our natural way of understanding things. We actually can't comprehend long form training as well as we can these microbursts.

In fact, microlearning has been used for ages for memorization: flash cards, cliff notes, mnemonic devices are all examples.

And all of the many one or two minute single-subject videos on YouTube.  How to fix your faucet, etc.  These are microlearning for the modern age.

Of course, in this busy day and age, attention spans are shorter.  And that makes microlearning perfect for learning on your phone while you're on the train to work in the morning. Or just getting started with your day—especially when you know it's not going to take an hour of your time.

It's not likely that microlearning will replace long-form training.  In fact, just the opposite.  

With its natural tendencies toward isolated chunks of learning, micro-learning is not so great at providing a framework, or the big picture of the training material, and be able to connect disparate elements of it into one coherent picture.  

Microlearning is just another tool in the toolbox. It's really ideal for refresher training and follow up training.

And it's particularly good when it's active, not passive. What I mean is, when the eLearning is sent to the student as opposed to the student having to go seek it out.

Passive microlearning is great for topics where the user is highly motivated to research and discover the information (the YouTube broken faucet example).

But what if you are trying to push information out to a set of learners. Wouldn't it be great to be able to send it directly to their inbox or text them on their mobile phone?

In this new landscape, microlearning will be a wonderful new tool for modern eLearning, as it hits all the sweet spots:

– It’s short  and therefore engaging
– It's natural because it's the way humans learn
– It's mobile and can be done on-person anytime

Small is the next big thing!


If you're interested, check out ExpandShare to see how your program can be an epic success.