Do you keep losing control of your front-of-house staff? Do your waiters keep quitting?
When you go to a restaurant, having a bad waiter can turn even the most beautiful and delicious experience into a nightmare. Waiters have more control over the dining experience than most owners and managers usually notice. In this article, I’ll tell you about:
- Why having an amazing front-of-house team is key for your restaurant
- The difference between them and BOH staff
- The keys to hiring and maintaining an outstanding FOH staff, and more
This article will guide you through the process of spotting and training the best individuals to become part of your FOH team. Are your waiters and waitresses making your restaurant grow? If not, this article is for you. Let’s get started!
Having an Outstanding Front-Of-House Staff Is Essential for Restaurants!
As I mentioned, having a great FOH team is essential for your restaurant – they are the faces of your business! A common misconception is that waiters are not as important as kitchen staff. For this year, we predicted restaurants would try to cut back on waiters. But, the truth is that the back-of-house staff only takes care of at least 50% of the jobs in the restaurant. That means that the front-of-house handles the other 50%. That’s anything related to interacting with customers and satisfying their needs. But that’s putting it mildly – they need an extensive skill set to get this job done:
- They must behave professionally under any circumstances
- They must be quick on their feet and have good problem-solving skills
- Good communication, teamwork, and amazing memory are good to have
- All while having exceptional skills in handling plates, stamina, table-setting technique, good appearance, and much more
I won’t talk about specific positions, but they can also have advanced skills like knowing wine and spirits or administrative skills. If you want to learn about specific positions, check out our organization charts. You need them to offer the full experience in your restaurant, which makes the hiring process a headache.
Differences Between BOH and FOH Staff
If you read our article about BOH staff, you might think I mentioned a couple of good concepts there that apply to the FOH staff. And, if that’s your line of thought, you’re not wrong. But, front and back-of-house staff are not the same. The main difference is that, for back-of-house staff, aesthetics don’t matter – while for waiters it’s a defining factor!
Another thing is that not everyone can be a waiter. It’s a job that requires patience, good mental strength, and a vocation for service. Those are key personality traits that seem to be in high demand these days – though, of course, this depends on the type of service your restaurant offers. Anyhow, your waiters must represent your restaurant’s service philosophy, which is vital to hook your customers, for community building, and for building loyalty.
The Keys to Hiring the Best FOH Staff for Your Restaurant
There are several keys to hiring great front-of-house staff. It all comes down to three factors that combined make for great waiters. Yes, you won’t find ready-made waiters that will come to your restaurant applying for a position as a perfect fit. There are no perfect fits from the get-go, only potential candidates!
1. Personality Traits
The first thing you must keep an eye on is each individual’s characteristics when you meet them. The right person for the job has to:
- Meet personality requirements. They must be calm, have good manners, be a little bit outgoing, and more. This depends on your restaurant’s service style.
- Meet skill requirements. Good communication, cooperation, and waiting skills.
- And have good learning capabilities. Being able to learn fast on the job and remember things is key as well.
Of course, these three traits alone won’t be enough to make them amazing waiters from the get-go, but they will make the next step much easier.
2. Onboarding Process
Now, having a strong onboarding game is crucial, especially for the front-of-house team. You must create an extensive initial training session. Also, keep tabs on each team member to know they still have your restaurant’s philosophy in mind. This is at least 60% of the hard work behind creating a great front-of-house restaurant.
Some managers often focus on hiring waiters based only on the traits mentioned above. Only to see them crash and burn when they serve their first tables. But, waiting tables is not an easy job – even though it might seem like a simple, common sense job, it isn’t. That’s why you have to train waiters to handle almost extreme situations. Especially if you offer alcohol in your restaurant or if you have issues with your back-of-house staff!
The onboarding process also prepares them to upsell dishes, create offers on the go if that’s your restaurant’s style, cooperate with your BOH staff, and more.
3. Cooperation With the BOH Staff
Even though it seems the BOH staff does most of the heavy lifting, offering a smooth service requires a balance between the work of both teams. I highly recommend that you let both teams know the responsibilities of the other staff members. Top-notch communication between them is the third key to avoiding cooperation issues. After all, a restaurant is more of a bicycle in that sense. That’s why staff integration, cooperation, and even trust exercises are a nice addition to good old restaurant management.
How to Maintain a Good FOH Staff?
Maintaining a great front-of-house requires some sacrifice. Even though their job is no joke, in a restaurant, they are the ones who constantly get the shortest straw. They usually make less than BOH staff, while having to tend to the needs of your customers with a smile on their faces! That’s why maintaining an exceptional FOH staff comes at a price – we’re talking salary here. If you can’t manage to offer a good salary to your waiting staff, then you’re going to have issues with turnover rates. If you offer low wages and tip-based income, then you’re going to have an even unhappier waiting staff. Of course, this depends on where you are and what your customs are!
Still, the post-pandemic landscape for hiring a good waiting staff includes:
- Keeping a good emotional salary
- Offering above-average wages
- And a good working environment
With costs on the rise, offering more money for the same job might seem like a problem. But, there are several strategies you can use, like:
- Upping your prices
- Optimizing working hours and staff positions
- Optimizing service style and workflow
This might seem like changing too many things just to pay your FOH a little more. Yet, a simple tool like Waiterio’s contactless service with a QR code menu can help you optimize the service style of your restaurant. It can also help you manage waiters, handle prices on the go, and more. Learn more about Waiterio’s restaurant POS here!
Front-Of-House Staff Makes Your Restaurant Grow!
The front-of-house staff makes your restaurant grow because they are the team in charge of taking care of your most valuable asset – customers. Building up customer relationships, meeting their needs, and building repeat clients are part of your waiter’s job description. That’s exactly what can help you build a community around your restaurant, help it grow, and help it become more profitable in the long run. With a good service philosophy, even the simplest restaurant can become a profitable franchise business. It’s happened before, and your restaurant could be next. Is your FOH staff good enough to make it happen?