5 Things to AVOID as a New Front-Of-House Staff
If you have gone through weeks of perfecting your resume, spending your time researching the right answers for your new job- and now have landed the perfect front-of-house role- then CONGRATULATIONS! If you are in your search process, don’t worry, all is not lost. No matter which stage you are in your employment journey, it is important to prepare for the big day.
We have put together what NOT to do in your first week as a front-of-house (FOH) staff which includes server, busser, barista, host, cashier among others. We also included what questions to avoid, the best practices of being a new employee, and so much more.
Don’t be late
Let’s start with the most basic yet important rule of being the new kid on the block: Show up on time. Or better yet, 10 minutes early.
Expect that the first few days of your new job to be manic. If you are working for a big restaurant, you will have a bigger ecosystem to learn. You will be pulled in a thousand directions and every second will be a learning opportunity. To prepare for this: Give yourself 10 extra minutes so you have time to compose yourself, get a cup of coffee, and put your complete uniform on. Starting your shift early also shows that you are eager and you value your colleague’s time. You will find that the day goes more smoothly when you come to work early, rather than when you come rushing through the door with half your uniform on.
Don’t come in unprepared
This goes hand-in-hand with the first point. Being early to your shift shows that you are an organized individual that is ready for the day ahead. In your first week as a front-of-house team member, you will need to learn two main things: 1. The best ways you can serve your customers 2. The most efficient way you can go about doing this with your colleagues.
In any customer-facing role, it is important to position yourself as an advocate for the business. This means knowing the menu inside-out. Factors such as allergen information for each dish, describing the taste of certain items on the menu, followed by a drink recommendation are a few that you may need to learn. Depending on the complexity of the menu, you are not expected to be an ‘expert’ with these recommendations. From a service point of view, you will need to know certain techniques such as how to properly carry a tray and how to take an order for a large table. Be curious and intuitive! Most of all, show your new employer that you are willing to learn by asking your team any necessary questions about the dishes or any procedures you are uncertain about.
Know the proper terminology
Speaking of uncertainty, there may be restaurant lingo you are not familiar with inside a restaurant environment. Most restaurant employees in the country use specific and common terms to communicate, so it is important to be familiar with them before you start your first shift. If this is your first front-of-house (FOH) or hospitality job role, this list will come in handy to you:
Turnover – Turnover is the rate at which a table is filled during a shift. A high turnover means short wait times and the guests are being served efficiently. A low turnover suggests that the service quality during that shift is slow due to circumstances like food being slow or staff not attending to customers quick enough during a busy shift.
Upselling – A sales technique used to get a customer to upgrade to a higher-priced item on the menu. An example would be adding premium items to a set menu for an extra cost.
Behind – While navigating around the kitchen, most chefs are carrying or moving hot dishes and ingredients. “Behind” is said to warn others to be mindful of this situation and avoid accidents.
86 – An old-term slang that means an item on the menu isn’t available or to get rid of something as it is spoilt.
Fun fact: We coined a new term – Edizeven (87). It stands for a fresh start – whether in your search for a new job or your search for the top talent. Click to view our Front-Of-House vacancies here.
Don’t try too hard
There is a fine difference between a server that is faking good service and a naturally confident server. Understandably, in your first few days, you will want to have consistent eye contact, an enthusiastic tone of voice, and a friendly face to become more approachable. The problem here is when you overdo your enthusiasm and lose focus on the work that needs to be done.
Not trying too hard also means you put less pressure on yourself when mistakes happen. During busy periods, it is normal for a restaurant server to have a few slip-ups especially when they are new. My advice would be to not let that bring down your confidence and respond gracefully. An example would be if you put in the wrong order for a guest or forgot to bring them another drink, be sure to emphasize that you recognize their dissatisfaction and are willing to amend the situation as soon as possible. When you don’t know how to respond to an inquiry or problem, avoid saying – ‘I don’t know, instead say phrases such as ‘I’ll find out right now for you’ or ‘Let me check back with my colleague’. This shows the customer that you have things under control and you are going to move forward with another person’s help.
Remember that confidence in the way you carry yourself as a server will come naturally as you progress in your role, so do not worry about it too much and focus on having the guest’s best interests in mind.
Don’t ask personal questions
The final two tips are related to your social experience as a front-of-house staff. This is because your initial interactions with your colleagues will be a key determinant of how your relationships and communication will progress in the future. As we all know, good relationships build team morale which makes workers more productive in the workplace.
To start with, asking questions is a great way to deepen your relationships with co-workers- only if you ask the right ones!
Questions such as “What’s your sexual orientation?” or “How much do you get paid compared to me?” or “Did you experience childhood trauma?” were ones that I have personally heard in my time as a server in a small restaurant. The latter took me by surprise as the question was so unnecessary. Ask only the questions related to the job role or work environment. Avoid coming off as intrusive or gossipy in your first week.
Don’t be shy
Don’t poke unnecessarily. But, speak up when you need help or have a question. It is about finding the right balance and the right ways to communicate your queries.
Make an effort to understand who is in charge of every station. Understand what specific job roles your colleagues have compared to you. Use this as a first step to get to know them as an employee and as a person. Be respectful, personable, and courteous. You want to leave a good impression that will allow your interactions to be enjoyable and pleasant at work.
If you’ve read through all 5 tips then you are on your way to creating a positive and impactful first impression. I hope this is helpful for you whether you are looking for your next front-of-house job opportunity or are starting your new role soon.
I am a recent UK 2020 graduate of BA Media and Communications.
During my third year, I became the media manager for a community-based society, and my passion for copywriting and creating online content grew since then. I’ve gotten valuable internships, certifications, and even started my own small business/passion project which made me confident in my craft.