Running a successful restaurant requires adept and skilled management of both front and back-of-house. It’s a tightrope you have to walk, but walk it you must to encourage repeat business and smiles on dials.

The front of house, which includes everything from customer service to payment collection, plays an extremely pivotal role in shaping your customer’s experience.

Sure, your kitchen and menu offerings need to be on point, but you can have the best run kitchen in the cosmos and fall flat on your face if you haven’t nailed your front of house.

The quality of that experience is vital. Blow your first impressions and you can kiss repeat visitation and positive word of mouth goodbye!

As an employer, ensuring smooth operations in this crucial arena is essential for customer satisfaction and ultimately, business success.

Cool, let’s delve into some effective strategies for managing your restaurant’s front of house, covering payment collection, and negotiating staffing issues.

It has to be solely about the customer

Everything else is a distant second. If you don’t blow away your customers with impeccable service and laser like focus, you won’t be seeing them (or their friends) gracing your doorway again.

Ways to get it right:

  • Train your staff to prioritise exceptional customer service. This includes greeting guests warmly, attending to their needs promptly, and ensuring a positive dining experience.
  • Encourage your employees to be knowledgeable about the menu, specials, and any promotions, allowing them to upsell effectively.
  • Implement systems for gathering feedback from customers to continuously improve service quality.

This has to be a rather instinctive process that includes assessing the personality of your waiters and front of house staff.

You can’t get away with ‘ok’ staff. They don’t have to be perfect in any way, but you need to have someone with charisma, grace, manners, and a genuine warmth. It really makes all the difference – even if your menu is mediocre, people will be attracted to a pleasant personal experience.

You need an efficient and reliable payment collection or POS system

If your payment collection process or POS system sucks, you’re going to annoy the ever-loving stuffing out of your customers.

Get it right people. Make it efficient, simple, and reliable. Here’s some food for thought:

  • Utilise modern and solid point-of-sale (POS) systems that offer various payment options such as credit/debit cards, mobile payments, and contactless payments. Make it easy to pay you!
  • Train your staff on how to use the POS system efficiently to process payments accurately and swiftly.
  • Implement a clear policy for handling cash transactions, including procedures for cash reconciliation and security measures.

Be conscious of potential staffing issues

As we’ve brushed upon, your business is only as good as your staff, and when it comes to hospitality, this is never more acute. Got rude, lazy, and late staff? Just shut the doors already!

Have a think about the following:

  • Adequately staffing your front of house to ensure smooth operations during peak hours. Use historical data and trends to forecast busy periods and adjust staffing levels accordingly.
  • Choose your staff wisely. ‘Good enough’ is not good enough when it comes to your front of house.
  • Provide comprehensive training for new employees, covering not only job responsibilities but also customer service techniques and POS system operation.
  • Foster a positive work environment by offering competitive wages, providing opportunities for advancement, and recognizing outstanding performance.
  • Develop a flexible scheduling system that accommodates employee preferences while ensuring adequate coverage during busy times.

Communication people!

Communication, communication, communication. It’s the backbone of a well-oiled restaurant.

Make sure you:

  • Maintain open lines of communication between front of house staff and management to address any issues or concerns promptly.
  • Conduct regular staff meetings to keep employees informed about updates, promotions, and any changes in policies or procedures.
  • Encourage feedback from employees regarding their experiences on the job and any suggestions for improvement.

How’s your quality control going?

Quality control, health standards, and cleanliness are a no brainer in the food industry. This requires no explanation. There are a raft of health laws in this regard to ensure you aren’t running a salmonella stand.

What you can do:

  • Implement high standards for cleanliness, appearance, and behaviour to create a professional and welcoming atmosphere for guests.
  • Conduct regular inspections of the front of house area to identify any areas for improvement and address issues promptly.
  • Monitor service quality through customer feedback, online reviews, and mystery shopper programs, making adjustments as needed.

Legal and compliance considerations

Yeah, that’s right, you need to adhere to regulations and legal standards. Shocker. It’s pretty simple though really.

Some things to think about:

  • Ensure you comply with all applicable labour laws and regulations regarding wages, hours, and working conditions – you’re going to have staff operating under award agreements, so just look to the Fair Work Ombudsman for guidance.
  • Stay up-to-date with health and safety guidelines, which may vary from location to location and across different business types.
  • Maintain accurate records of employee schedules, wages, and any incidents or accidents that occur on the premises.