For a restaurant to provide the best service quality, the staffing system must be stable in terms of quality and quantity. A restaurant consists of two teams: front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH). Each team, with its own function, should closely work together to facilitate a smooth workflow.
So, what is FOH and BOH in a restaurant? How can you maximize the productivity of each team?
Let’s find out.
What is Front of House (FOH) in a restaurant?
Front of House (FOH) refers to a restaurant’s public areas, including the dining room, bar, front-door area, waiting area, and restrooms.
Front of house staff are roles that interact directly with customers, including waiters, greeters, hosts, bartenders, barbacks, bussers, food runners, floor managers, and cashiers.
Because FOH staff serve guests directly, they should be friendly and calm to provide a positive dining experience for guests.
What is Back of House (BOH) in a restaurant?
Back of House (BOH), opposite to FOH, is the section of the restaurant that most diners don’t see. If a restaurant is a stage, the BOH is the dressing room. The kitchen, offices, storage rooms, and any other places hidden from guests are all included in the term BOH.
Anyone who works in those hidden areas is considered Back-of-House staff. Not only the chef and sous chef, but also prep cooks, line cooks, dishwashers, and those who aren’t involved in Front-of-House operations.
Effective FOH and BOH management tips
If you want your restaurant to succeed, you can’t just focus on one side or the other. FOH and BOH employees should work together to give the best possible customer experience.
As a manager, you should take this seriously and do everything you can to unite the FOH and the BOH as one team, rather than two separate teams that have to work together occasionally.
How to improve your restaurant FOH
Make sure your restaurant welcomes guests properly
The way your host/hostess greets diners sets the tone for the rest of your customers’ dining experience.
One common mistake many restaurants make is abandoning their welcoming post, especially when it gets busy. A customer doesn’t care if you’re short-handed, they want your complete attention when they walk in your door.
Make sure you always have someone at the door to welcome guests. And to avoid extreme hecticness, you should adopt better scheduling practices.
Your host/hostess can serve appetizers and drinks to diners while informing customers of the estimated wait time. If your restaurant is full, they should know how to offer a takeaway service.
By encouraging diners to make reservations, you can better manage your restaurant capacity and staffing needs.
In other words, if you know how many guests to expect, you can staff your restaurant accordingly and control labor costs better. You won’t overstaff the FOH and lose money, nor will you risk being understaffed and providing a terrible dining experience.
You can also set up online reservation systems to automate adding and assigning tables and time slots to guests. These systems also let customers know if the restaurant is fully booked, which reduces some unnecessary back-and-forths.
Make suggestions based on ordering history
If your restaurant has an automated ordering system, you can save information about guests’ dietary preferences, allergies, special occasions, etc. when they make reservations or register on your website.
When guests return, you can check their profiles to discover what they often order or what they hate, and make suggestions accordingly. This creates a more personalized dining experience for customers, encouraging them to keep coming back.
Minimize wait time
Even if your food is delicious and your staff is nice, if customers have to wait too long, it’ll affect their dining experience negatively.
Think about how well you handle walk-ins and table-turning, how well your hosts and wait staff set wait expectations, and how well-prepared your FOH area is for entertaining customers while they wait.
Do you have a waiting area or a bar where guests may sit and wait with a drink and a menu? What’s the vibe like? Is your restaurant’s type of setting where live music would be beneficial?
Consider how you’ll keep track of tables that need to be prepared for the following reservations. Whether you have an app to help you monitor service speed or you rely on your front-of-house crew, training your staff is always the key.
How to improve your restaurant BOH
Hold regular conversations with your workforce to address challenges each employee is experiencing and how their work could be improved. Encourage sharing and talking about difficulties in the workplace.
Doing this is extremely important in building a transparent workplace, where your employees can begin to gain perspective.
Waiters and waitresses, for example, can be rewarded and incentivized in the form of tips. Tips help to keep staff motivated financially and mentally.
BOH staff, on the other hand, don’t have such a reward system. So you should keep an eye on your BOH employees and reward them promptly once they’ve done a good job. The rewards don’t always have to be money, some praises or acknowledgment can go a long way.
Check in with staff frequently
Because BOH is hidden out of your sight, it’s easy to forget to check in with them to see how they’re doing, especially during busy times.
You must take time to visit the BOH and ensure that nothing interferes with their workflow. Problems don’t always come to light on their own. Sometimes, they only appear when you actually pay attention.
Improve FOH and BOH communication
Restaurants often experience a communication breakdown between the back and front of the house. When something goes wrong during peak hours, the FOH frequently blames the BOH, and vice versa.
Many eateries employ an expeditor to help with this. An expeditor is a liaison between the BOH and the FOH who ensures that the plates are delivered to the guests in a timely and proper manner, as well as performing the last quality check. The executive chef or sous chef is often the expeditor.
Many restaurants organize staff meetings involving both FOH and BOH staff to ensure that the flow of food from the kitchen to the dining area is well managed and that the staff is communicating effectively.
Some restaurant managers also consider using automated tools to connect FOH, BOH and customers, such as POS, table management system, accounting software, scheduling software, etc.
Both the front and back of the house are important to the success and quality of your restaurant. With thorough training, care, and consideration, you’ll be able to connect these two departments, while strengthening their capability.
Read more about restaurant management.