Front of House
The front of house consists of everything visible by your customers, and is where the interaction between your staff and customers will take place. This area needs to always be working perfectly to provide the best experiences for your guests so they keep coming back and leave wonderful reviews that will attract more customers.
Its important to keep your guests happy from the moment they pull up to the moment they drive off. As soon as your customer pulls up into your parking lot, everything needs to be neat and presentable. Make sure you design the parking area to be spacious and be sure to keep it clean at all times. Your customers are not going to want to continue to visit if they know they might damage their vehicles because the parking lot is full of deep holes. If you have any grassy areas, or shrubbery, you need to make sure it’s clipped and trimmed so it looks presentable. Any trash needs to be picked up as well. If a potential customer sees that you don’t take care of the exterior of your business, they might not even want to step foot inside because they’ll assume worst of it.
The entryway into your restaurant needs to look clean and welcoming. The first thing your customer will see is the host/hostess station, so make sure the employee you hired for the job is professional and greets everyone with a bright smile. They also need be able to answer customer questions, such as be able to estimate the time until a table becomes available. This station needs to be within eyeshot of both the waiting area and the dinning area.
What if your short staffed and your host/hostess has to help with other duties? Regardless of how short staffed you are, you should never leave the host/hostess station unattended. Someone needs to be working that area at all times. Your customer doesn’t care if 80 percent of your wait staff has called in, what they do care about is how they are being treated because if they are being treated poorly.
Your host/hostess should maintain good eye contact and use friendly body language when interacting with customers. Then provide them with any information they have to offer and direct them to where they need to go.
If a customer arrives and there is no table available, the host/hostess will instruct them to wait and provide them with an estimated time. The waiting area needs to be furnished with comfortable chairs and be accommodating toward all body types from large to small and even those with disabilities. While the guests are waiting, it’s a good idea to provide them with a menu to look over. Not only will having a menu distract them from how much time has passed, it will give them something to look forward to, and they’ll be better prepared to order once they’ve been seated.
If your dining area is poorly designed, with tables to close together, nasty odors, and outdated furniture, your customer might just never come back once they leave. It is important to make sure your dining room is designed in a way that not only allows for maximum capacity but at the same time keeps everyone comfortable.
The distance between tables needs to allow for waitstaff to move around with ease and allow customers to relax and feel at home. The distance between tables also needs to be wide enough to accommodate those in wheelchairs and those that require any other medical products that take up space.
Keep in mind that there are locations in a dining room that customers don’t typically like to be seated at. These areas include being near the bathroom or the kitchen. Even though you want to have as many tables as you can possible fit, it might be best to re-purpose those areas. Remember, you want your customers to always have a wonderful experience at your restaurant, and that might mean not seating them in problem areas. However, if re-purposing those areas is not an option, you can put up partitions, plants, or screens.
Your waitstaff will now be taking care of your guest’s needs. They all need to present themselves in a professional manner and be respectful even to difficult customers. Your waitstaff needs to treat all customers like they are a notoriously difficult food critic, because in a way they kind of are. All it takes is one snippy comment from a waiter to trigger a guest into making a detrimental online review which can lead to a loss of customers. Waitstaff needs to be knowledgeable on everything being served and must be prepared to answer any question a customer may have with a kind and welcoming tone.
Before each shift starts, your general manager or front of house manager might want to have a quick meeting with staff. That way they can provide information to waitstaff about anything that may arise that shift. For example, maybe there is a reservation for a large party and everyone needs to be prepared to help out or maybe there is a problem that needs to be addressed before the shift starts. The more prepared your staff is, the better things will flow.
So, not only does your entryway and dining room need to be clean but your customer bathroom does too. Your dinning room can be spotless and cleaned to perfection, but if your bathroom is gross, your guests will probably not want to come by again. After all, if your bathroom is a mess then maybe your kitchen is nasty too? That is the kind of assumption that you don’t want your guests to make.
Your general manager or front of house manager should schedule regular bathroom checks to make sure everything is stocked and cleaned.
Once your customer has finished their meal and left their table, it’s up to the busser to clean up. Even though bussers don’t always interact directly with customers it is important to have them trained in service just in case extra assistance is needed. It is also important for them to keep their aprons clean and appear professional when cleaning up the tables for the next guests.