FOH vs BOH: not only it is the ultimate hospitality meme template, but rather an essential division of life within every restaurant. Respectively abbreviations for "Front of House" and "Back of House", these expressions can be understood as referring to what guests see and do not see or interact with, including team members and spaces.
Good management of both FOH and BOH contribute to the success of your restaurant— as much as stage and backstage are the fundaments of a great play. In order to succeed, they should work as one team— with different roles, performing different duties— where communication occurs smoothly, motivation tends to a shared goal, and operations are optimized to make things flow on both sides and in between. From understanding how to hire the perfect figures for the different FOH and BOH roles to reviewing the functions of your restaurants' different gears, this article will help you reshuffle the organization within your team and provide you with the best tips to run your restaurant business.
Building the perfect teams: FOH and BOH requirements
When working in the front of house, you are the face of the restaurant. Your presence affects the overall customer experience as much as your menu does. Whatever type of service your restaurant business offers to its clientele— essential and assertive, friendly and approachable— every teammate must be aligned and perform accordingly while ensuring the satisfaction of all guests. Basic skills include listening, good communication, and critical thinking skills. From taking orders or setting tables to promptly responding to any other customer's need and concern, front of house workers should have the right skills or inclination of being good hosts (which entails a good level of awareness and knowing how to be a good host), as well as not being afraid of handling criticism and being focused when it comes to providing fast solutions or dealing with uncomfortable situations in a professional manner. Also, these types of jobs also call for the ability to look carefully and know how to prioritize: having to look after many tables with different customers all at stages in their meal is, in fact, the daily task of servers, which ensure that customers get the best dining experience without waiting too long. FOH positions include jobs whose tasks imply facing customers and going from taking orders and reservations or handling payments to coordinating the staff and reporting to the team; these can be:
- Food runner
- General manager
- Shift manager
Instead, the back of house team is mostly made up of food-prep staff and those assisting them. This does not only imply handling food and cooking but also other duties that are vital to the safety or finances of your restaurant business. These include planning menus and specials according to food costs, ordering food and managing inventories, cleaning and respecting food safety rules, determining expenses, and contributing to administrative work. Besides possessing a set of hard skills when it comes to working in the kitchen, there is a set of soft skills that back of house workers should have. These include cleanliness, time management, and proactivity. A back of house job is a great way to prepare yourself for the fast-paced nature of working in the restaurant industry and will teach you a set of valuable skills while meeting tight deadlines and stress management. BOH positions include:
- Head chef
- Sous chef
- Line cook
- Delivery driver
- Kitchen manager
Optimizing BOH and FOH flows
In order to achieve great results as a whole team, both FOH and BOH teams should work and communicate smoothly. This implies hiring the right talents, as well as managing them effectively, defining roles and expectations, providing training and adequate salary, establishing a correct shifting plan, and being able to delegate while leading the managerial aspects of the whole restaurant. One way to optimize operations is to conduct periodic performance reviews with your team members, both as a group and with individuals. This is important for a series of reasons, from understanding the internal dynamics between your team to assessing kitchen hazards or critical points that lower the overall performance of your restaurant. Creating a space for your team to give feedback on their day-to-day work and reviewing the critical aspects of your front or back of housers work will allow you to come up with the right plan of action. One option to consider when optimizing individual and cross-team works in a restaurant is digitalization. There are many different digital tools that can simplify your or your team's work and save up that precious time (and paper) that is usually dedicated to the core operations of the business. These include ordering apps like Choco that allow chefs and managers to manage orders from suppliers from one single platform and communicate with their team, but also other tools like scheduling systems, digital menus, and cashless payment tools.
Team, team, team
Working together as one single team should always be the main value for both FOH and BOH workers. There is a series of practices that managers can follow in order to leverage team spirit. These include sharing and aligning visions when it comes to understanding the identity of the restaurant: whereas your main focus is providing smart and customer-friendly service within a high volume dining spot or communicating values of environmental sustainability and local products, your purpose should be clear because aiming at the same goal is the best way to celebrate success together.