The fact is, no one becomes good at anything without training, without going out and trying to be better every single day. 

“Whether we realize it or not, we are paying for training,” Jeffrey Kreafle, general manager/CEO at Congressional Country Club, wrote on my office whiteboard early on in my time as food and beverage director at the club. It has since become a mantra of mine.

I’ve always had a passion, admiration and desire to be around the best. My entire life, I have been fascinated with people who are at the top of their game, the best and the brightest who have the skills and confidence to perform to the highest levels. Additionally, I have always been drawn to hard work. Early in my career, this manifested by showing up for every extra task offered, every class, project, my hand was up.

I only applied to work for the best; a career with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts working all over the United States led me to several amazing years at Congressional Country Club and now with the team at Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace.

In other parts of my life, the “training gene” has shown up in my drive for physical ability, running marathons, climbing mountains and hiking long distances.

What I’ve realized throughout is this: None of this is possible without training. Training day in and day out, training not only when it is fun or interesting, but when it is pouring rain, when you’re tired, when you’re stressed out, and you want to give up with every ounce in your body.

The fact is, no one becomes good at anything without training, without going out and trying to be better every single day. In fact, if you never train, you will never amount to much at all.

During my years as a food and beverage director, I was in environments where daily pre-shift briefings that were planned included tastings, handouts, quizzes and team interaction that were non-negotiable. We were held accountable for training themes daily, weekly, monthly, following a schedule, focusing on our weak areas, strengthening the things at which we were great and everything in between.

Like an NFL team, watching their plays over and over after the game, we obsessed about things that went wrong. The sin was not making a mistake. The sin was repeating it over again. The good news is that within food and beverage, there are millions of mistakes to make; therefore, millions of ways we can obsessively get better a little each day.

The goal has never been to have zero mistakes. That’s impossible if you ever want to achieve excellence. You have to get very comfortable with failing. The goal was creating a learning environment where we celebrated both successes and failure, therefore learning and growing from both.

We would bring in subject matter experts, vendors, speakers, trainers, include team members who were passionate about particular topics. When mistakes were made, we talked about them in an open and honest environment. Every year we created a training plan and pushed to increase our budget for these things.

Now in my primary role as a trainer and consultant, I often hear that a team “does not have time or money for training.” I remind them that you can choose to pay for training by budgeting for it, planning it, building programs that fit it into every day and holding the team accountable to that standard, or you will end up paying for it through missed opportunities to deliver service and sell, glitches, waste, lower capture ratios in your restaurants, comp items and team turnover.

You simply do not become the best at anything without training and the choice as a leader is yours because, whether you are intentional about it or not, Jeffrey was right “You are ALWAYS paying for training.”

Contributed by Annette Whittley
Consultant & Search Executive, Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace
Connect at or (561) 827-1945.

THE BOARDROOM MAGAZINE – November/December 2020