How to Hire And Maintain Restaurant Back Of House Staff?

How to Hire And Maintain Restaurant Back Of House Staff?

Learn here the keys to hiring and keeping good back-of-house staff for restaurants!

Posted by Victor Delgadillo on October 3, 2022

Are you having trouble hiring good back-of-house staff? Does your BOH staff keep quitting? Find answers in this article!

A commonplace issue in restaurants worldwide is the lack of a good back-of-house staff. You can’t have a restaurant without a good team handling the kitchen – and good ones are hard to get. Regarding turnover rates, most of the advice out there points all restaurants in the same direction – improving efficiency. But, doing so is hard and doesn’t guarantee that turnover rates will drop. So, here’s the guide that will be useful to clear your doubts.

In this article, I’ll talk to you about:

  • Back-of-House Staff and why they’re a handful even for experienced managers
  • The keys to hiring a good back-of-house team for your restaurant
  • And the practices you should use to cut turnover rates

When you finish reading this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the issues behind having an inefficient BOH team. Hopefully, we’ll help you come up with solutions based on your specific scenario. Let’s dig in!

Here’s Why You Must Get Good Back-Of-House Kitchen Staff

restaurant back of house staff

Back-of-house staff is every employee behind the counter, and usually, deep into the kitchen depending on the way you organized your restaurant. They are the ones who handle at least 50% of the jobs done at a restaurant – at least at the specific location. I won’t detail positions in this article, but check out the organization charts we’ve created to cover that.

Several things make the back-of-house staff cause extra problems. But, the deepest issue is the hiring process of the people who will run your kitchen – a core place in your restaurant. Some owners and managers pay little attention to this process and care more about filling positions. But the truth is, every single position inside your restaurant’s kitchen is vital.

That’s because it’s the back-of-house staff who handles:

  • Kitchen equipment
  • Inventory
  • Sanitation and organization of the kitchen
  • Sometimes they come up with ideas for new dishes or presentations
  • They work in a dangerous environment and stand up for long periods
  • And they also keep in touch with the FOH staff

That’s why you need to hire skilled, knowledgeable, and also professional individuals. The thing is that you won’t always find people who meet all the requirements. Additionally, there’s no way of hiding the bad reputation cooks have for being a little bit egocentric – count me in on that one. Below, I’ll share the keys to spotting good workers to break the cycle that brought you here.

Keys to Hiring Great Back-Of-House Kitchen Staff for a Restaurant

chef plating a dish professionally

So, you need people who meet many requirements to be part of your team, and you need them now. However, there are a few things you must consider before starting the quest to hire the ultimate team.

First, Assess Your Restaurant’s Kitchen Staff Needs

To assess your restaurant’s needs, you must take these three, simplified steps:

  • Be conscious of the type of restaurant you have!
  • Answer: According to the type of restaurant, which trait would you need the worker to have? To simplify this, let’s say they are skill, knowledge, adaptability, cooperation, and professionalism
  • Answer: What traits do you have control over?

This last question might confuse you, so let me elaborate. Depending on the answer to the second question, you will have some blanks you’ll need to fill in to build a good team.

I’ll Give You a Couple of Examples

Let’s say you have a fast-food restaurant, and you need your new employees to be adaptable and good at teamwork. The empty spaces would be:

  • Skill
  • Knowledge
  • And professionalism

Those are the traits you must take control of. How? Through onboarding and training! It’s important to know the restaurant type because that way you will know the areas or traits you can help those new employees with.

  • If you offer a fine dining experience in your restaurant, hiring inexperienced cooks might be a bad idea. You likely need them to at least have some experience.
  • If you have a fast-food restaurant, you have some leeway to hire inexperienced employees. Just make sure to assess whether they meet some of the requirements, like adaptability, cooperation, or even professionalism!

Of course, not all of your needs will be covered by these traits, and you might have a different type of restaurant. That’s why you must really think about these steps before moving forward.

Now Comes the Hiring Process

chef's resume and interview process

The hiring process for back-of-house staff is a little different from that of front-of-house staff. You can focus on having an internal psychological evaluation or on reading people based on your experience. You can achieve either of these by becoming an expert. That isn’t advisable, especially if you don’t want to worry about all the details. You can also hire a specialist who can take care of it.

  • It can be in the form of an experienced restaurant manager or chef who knows how to read people and build a team.
  • Or in the form of an HR specialist who knows how to handle the psychological evaluation process.

Both ways can take you to success! You must stick to the formula though. Make sure to consider your restaurant’s needs. Also, things are different if you’re hiring for a new restaurant or an existing restaurant.

If You’re Hiring Kitchen Staff for an Existing Restaurant, You Have to Take Extra Steps

The best part of having a new restaurant is that you get to hire all your staff from zero. By applying the keys I mentioned before, you can form an amazing back-of-house team. If you’re hiring for an existing restaurant, there are a few more steps you must take:

  • You must consider your current back-of-house staff
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses they have as a team
  • And come up with the best methods you can use to adapt new members 

This is not an easy task because it’s essential to keep your restaurant running and avoid costly mistakes, team disruption, and more. 

How to Reduce Back-Of-House Staff Turnover Rates?

angry chef about to be fired or quit

Now that you built a high-potential team, you can focus on reducing turnover rates, which is vital since we’re not that far away from the staff shortage. But fear not, there are several tips you can apply. The best part is you can apply them in any restaurant, so make sure you’re taking notes.

1. Apply Gentle Management or Leadership

If you’re not acquainted with these terms, they just mean to treat employees, well, not just like employees. You must see them as people who are looking to grow, learn, and earn a respectable income from the experience. Of course, some people are just trying to make a living out of their jobs, and that’s alright too. But, with proper incentives, you can change anyone’s mindset.

2. Describe the Job

Another important part of achieving this is describing the job properly.

  • Promise a respectable income
  • Promise well-earned support and help when necessary
  • Promise flexibility and growth!
  • And why not, you can also promise friendship and community

But of course, lift those promises with your knees, and make sure you can keep them if employees keep their part of the deal. Doing this will help you cut the common issues for high turnover rates:

  1. Low wages
  2. Poor working conditions and environment
  3. And poor treatment

This is also what’s called an emotional salary, which is far better by today’s standards.

3. Onboarding, Training Programs, Courses, and More Growth Opportunities

experienced chef teaching and helping another cook

Finally, make sure to create good onboarding and training programs. These can help you iron out the imperfections of your team. They can help your staff feel appreciated, respected, and like they're growing with the position. This causes them to give back to your restaurant, work with more effort, and stick to it through thick and thin. As long as you keep your employees motivated and happy, your restaurant will be an unstoppable force!

Once You Have a Good Team, You Can Start Focusing On Efficiency

an efficient restaurant is a profitable restaurant

You must focus on efficiency in a way it’s not overwhelming or overly complex. That’s why we recommend that you start by standardizing the way things work in the kitchen. You can standardize:

  • The contact with the FOH team. This is vital!
  • The process of preparing dishes
  • The different communication channels if you offer takeout, delivery, online sales, or all of them
  • Optimize order-taking so all of them are clear once they reach the kitchen
  • And much more

This might sound like some sort of herculean task. But, the good news is you can achieve all that with Waiterio’s POS! Waiterio is a very lean approach to restaurant management that can help you get the job done.

How to Know if Your Back-Of-House Staff Is Good Enough?

Now that you think everything is in place, how can you tell if it is working for everyone? That includes:

  • All members of the back-of-house staff
  • The FOH staff
  • Administrative staff, and more.

Day-to-day management can help with that, but it can become too much to bear sometimes. That’s when creating job satisfaction surveys. Just a couple of questions and well-built trust with all your restaurant’s employees can tell you a lot about how your employees feel about their positions. Ask about their salaries, schedule, flexibility, and comfort in the working environment. And leave some room for suggestions if you’re open. You can also ask your customers using customer satisfaction surveys because an efficient BOH staff also satisfies the needs and palates of your customers!

So, is your back-of-house staff top-notch, or does it need improvement?

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