Top 7 Tips to Optimize Your Restaurant Front-of-House Operation

Nov 1, 2021 | Operations

Improving your restaurant service and boosting profits is easy if you optimize your Front-of-House operations. Here are 7 excellent tips to help you improve your FOH.

Improve Your Restaurant FOH with these 7 Steps

Restaurant owners and managers know that Front of House staff have one of the most important jobs for your business—creating a great first impression. And so, we’ll explore ways to help you train your staff and get more glowing customer reviews. 

While operating a restaurant, you constantly have to reassess how to make your systems and policies more efficient. Some of the typical assessment questions to ask yourself and your staff include:

  • Do we need to change the layout so servers can bring out dishes faster?
  • Will self-service kiosks increase the number of customers?
  • Can digital innovations complement how your staff works?
  • Will implementing online ordering and delivery services boost our profitability?

These questions steep in the minds of restaurant owners when thinking of improving operations and services. But, one thing that restaurateurs also need to prioritize improvements for better overall service is the Front-of-House (FOH) operations.

Rather than renovating at great expense or redesigning the dining area, why not start with the quality of FOH operations? After all, good service is fundamental to running a successful restaurant business. 

With an improved FOH experience, you can increase the chances of return customers.

 

What does Front-of-House mean in a Restaurant?

The Front-of-House refers to everything your customers can see or interact with when they dine at your restaurant. This includes everything from the host booth, waiting area, dining room, bar, servers, and equipment that enables your restaurant to run smoothly.

With the right tools and strategy, you can run an efficient restaurant while providing guests with a memorable experience.

There are many ways that restaurant managers can optimize their FOH. In this guide, we will look at the top seven tips to make your front-of-house more efficient.

How  to Optimize Your Front-of-House Operations

Training your FOH staff well is a great and easy way to astound your guests, get returning customers, and boost your overall sales. Here are 7 ways to get started and grow your business: 

1. Welcoming Guests Right at the Door

A girl in black long-sleeves holding a restaurant menu

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Let’s start with where your diners enter – at the door. First impressions are everything, and whoever greets your guests at the door can make or break their choice to dine at your place. A customer doesn’t know if you are understaffed or busy accommodating a table of nine. As soon as they come through your doors, customers want the following:

  • Your host’s undivided attention
  • A warm and welcoming attitude
  • Clear guidance on where they should sit or where to wait for a table

So, here are some ways on how your staff can provide customers the best welcome: 

  • Maintain comfortable eye contact 
  • Show friendly body language – do not cross your arms or put your hands on your hips
  • When customers have to wait, give a fair estimate of the waiting time

Training your staff to be personable to customers from the door until they finish dining at your restaurant will be beneficial to your business and encourage repeat customers. After all, customers are more likely to remember good and bad treatment at restaurants. That means you want to leave a positive mark from the moment they enter your establishment.

2. Implement Contactless Dining to Turn Tables Faster

A customer paying with a card

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

Contactless dining skyrocketed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With more customers and staff worrying about their health, it made sense to digitize most business transactions. Restaurants are no different, and you can have a more efficient service by limiting the physical contact between guests and restaurant staff through the implementation of:

  • Digital menus through QR codes and websites
  • Cashless transactions via debit, credit, and even e-wallets
  • Self-service kiosks

A contactless experience has been increasingly important for restaurants. In fact, recent data shows that 57% of consumers are likely to do business with those that have a contactless payment option. 

Implementing contactless dining will also allow diners to reduce time spent at the table by simplifying processes that need human attention, such as: 

  • Waiting for a menu
  • Asking for the check
  • Servers going back and forth to process payments

Embracing this solution minimizes labor and increases your restaurant’s table turnover. This results in seating more guests and increases revenue in less time.

3. Encourage Reservations to Manage Restaurant Capacity

A reserved table in a fancy restaurant

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels

Encouraging your diners to make reservations will help you manage your restaurant capacity and labor needs. You can prepare your FOH staff accordingly and optimize operational costs when you know how many guests will arrive. Moreover, having reservations will help you assign tables beforehand and strategically seat your walk-in customers.

Other benefits of having restaurant reservations include:

  • Easier staff management. You won’t have to risk being understaffed when serving a big party.
  • No waiting. Customers with reservations no longer have to wait in line, especially if they’re a large group. Guests are happier when seated immediately, which leads to an excellent dining experience.
  • Higher profits. Most customers that reserve tables are those in large groups. When more diners are dining in your restaurant, it brings you higher earnings as they spend more. Plus, some restaurants choose to charge an extra gratuity for large groups.

Increase your reservation-to-walk-in ratio by developing a system that will be easy for your guests to book reservations. Whether through your social media pages or your website, make sure it’s easy to see your restaurant’s contact details or set up an online reservation system.

4. Hold Pre-Shift Meetings

Happy colleagues working on a table

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

Instead of only holding meetings occasionally or in an emergency, get your team together more often. Plan a regular pre-shift meeting to assign roles, provide important updates, and boost morale. A pre-shift meeting occurs before the hustle of lunch and evening shifts. It can be as short as 5 minutes to around 30 minutes.

Pre-shift meetings can set the tone for your staff when running the restaurant, so it is important that these are engaging and fun. During a pre-shift meeting, you can discuss, clarify, and remind your staff of the following:

  • Restaurant protocols
  • Recent menu changes
  • Weather implications on service
  • Special events in the area
  • Expected group reservations

Even if your staff already know what to do, holding a pre-shift meeting will ensure everyone is on the same page. Also, doing so will help your team be more present and happier, resulting in better customer service.

5. Assign Staff Roles Clearly 

Restaurant staff working during the pandemic 

Photo by Vanna Phon on Unsplash

In line with holding pre-shift meetings, you should take the time to remind your team about the functions of each staff member. You can also inform them of any role changes if you need more servers on the floor and fewer hosts, for example. All those working in FOH, from hosts to servers, should understand their roles to know what they do.

When everyone knows their role, they can work swiftly and accurately, leaving no customers unattended. That way, someone will be always at the door to welcome guests and servers will run food out quickly before it gets cold. Clear roles will increase the service of your speed and maximize your team working the Front-of-House.

6. Understand Customer Experience 

A busy cafe in Germany

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

To fully understand the customer experience, restaurant owners or managers have to experience what it’s like to be a customer. The things you have to consider when assessing your restaurant operations include:

  • How do your staff greet your customers at the door?
  • How long is the waiting time for customers to be seated?
  • Is the overall ambiance of your restaurant welcoming?
  • Is your restaurant being maintained and cleaned well?

By doing so, you can see the problems in your FOH operations and fix them to improve customer experience. Beyond this, you can also acquire data from real customers by asking for feedback after dining or through surveys.

7. Invest in a Fully Integrated Restaurant POS System

A businessman looking at marketing analytics 

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash 

A Point-of-Sale (POS) system is crucial to restaurants as they allow you to simplify processes. However, your POS system should be able to do more than just in-store transactions.

Investing in a fully integrated POS system, like the Mosaic POS system, for your restaurant will help speed up your FOH operation and grow your business. An excellent POS system can support your business by:

  • Allowing you to make changes to your menu, pricing, and promotions remotely, depending on available inventory and current food trends. 
  • Providing real-time data analytics that you can use to make data-driven decisions on how to improve your FOH operations. For example,  the data can show you which days are busier so you can manage your staff accordingly. 
  • Tracking customers spending trends to have valuable insights like what are your best-selling menu items. With this data, you can stock up on ingredients and ensure that your customers can order this item whenever they dine in your restaurant. 
  • Keeping track of staff shifts and performance will allow you to monitor and manage your staff with greater efficiency. 
  • Giving you a contactless payment option for customers who want to pay through cards or their smartphones.

Having a fully integrated POS system for your restaurant will reduce labor costs, keep your team focused on serving customers, and provide a quality experience while increasing your cash flow.

Boost Your Profits Through Better FOH Operations

Front-of-House operations play an integral role in customer satisfaction, which is why you need to optimize and improve it. The way your staff interacts with guests and your ordering and payment process are factors that seriously impact your restaurant’s brand and reputation. 

Using the tips we provided above, you can take the first step towards improving your FOH operations to minimize costs, have repeat customers, and boost revenue.

Looking to improve your FOH operations by investing in the right tools and strategies? Contact us today, and let’s work together to help your restaurant thrive.

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