Jobs in the restaurant industry are unlike any others. They’re fast-paced, challenging, and fun, and as a front-of-house employee, you’re vital to the success of a restaurant. Great food will get people in the door, but great service is what makes people come back.
If you’re new to the restaurant industry, this list will arm you with the front-of-house tips you need to wow your customers and your boss. If you’re a seasoned pro, this list will serve as an excellent refresher so you can ensure you’re delivering A+ service every time.
1. Always stay positive.
Obvious? Maybe. So important it still has to be #1? Absolutely.
Even if you’re having a rough shift, never let that show to the customer. Get your frustration out in the kitchen, then walk out the door with a smile, head held high, and shoulders back. You’re a star, and everything is going to be great.
2. Invest in a pair of non-slip shoes.
They keep your feet and back happy during busy shifts and keep you from slipping. Yes, they are almost all ugly, but you will fall in love with them anyway.
3. Be available.
Few things are more frustrating to customers than needing a FOH person and not being able to find one. It’s tempting sometimes to hide in the kitchen, but try to be out on the floor as much as possible so you’re accessible to customers if they need something.
4. How to properly carry a tray
This is not just for servers. Whether you’re the manager, the host, or the busser, there will come a time when you’re called upon to save the day by running food to tables.
Here’s how to do it right:
Evenly distribute the weight on your tray. If a tray is well balanced, it’s a breeze to carry. This is a “work smarter, not harder” situation, so take a few seconds to make sure it’s balanced.
Lift the tray with your non-dominant hand. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is the best task for that hand — it just has to stay still. You’re going to need your dominant hand to do the tasks that require dexterity, such as passing out the food or drinks on your tray.
5. How to take an order for a large table
Decide where to you want to start and go in order around the table. Don’t let customers randomly shout out their orders, or you’ll never be able to remember who had what.
It’s much more impressive to your customers if you can bring out several plates of food and immediately give them to the correct person. Holding up the plate and saying, “Chicken marsala?” until someone raises a hand isn’t going to win you more tips.
6. Proven ways to increase your tips
1. Know the menu. Any time you have to tell your customers, “I’ll have to check on that for you,” it makes you seem unprepared. If you can answer all their questions with confidence, it will earn you major brownie points.
2. Always assume your customer is there for a full meal, from appetizer to dessert. Maybe they didn’t come in with that intention, but if you ask and offer a suggestion, you can easily sway them, especially at the start of the meal when they’re hungry. The bigger the bill, the bigger the tip.
3. Do the “smile and nod”. This move is a staple among servers, but it works great for any front-of-house person who’s checking in with a customer. Almost without fail, if you ask a customer, “How is everything?” while smiling and slightly nodding your head, they will start nodding their heads, too, and give a positive response. It’s a subtle but effective way to influence a customer and reinforce in their mind that this is a good experience.
4. Personalize your tickets. Writing “Thank you!” or a short note on your tickets is a reminder to the customer right before they’re filling out the tip that you’re a super nice person who deserves a super nice tip.
7. Remember that restaurants function as a team.
You can forge an unbreakable bond with your worst enemy during a Friday dinner rush when the restaurant is short-handed and the kitchen just ran out of everyone’s favorite dish. You’re thrown into a high-pressure, fast-moving situation and everyone either comes together or you all crash and burn.
To be a great FOH person, you have to take care of your coworkers. That means running food for servers who are in the weeds, seating customers when the hostess is busy, bussing tables when the bussers are overwhelmed, etc. If you look out for your team, they’ll look out for you as well.
Now that you’re armed with everything you need to be the world’s best FOH person, it’s time to find a great restaurant to thrive in. Check out all the available restaurant jobs on our homepage.
I’ve worked in FOH and BOH, and for two very stressful days, I did both at the same time.
Now I’m a full-time freelance writer with clients in industries ranging from restaurants and hospitality to B2B technology. I help brands create SEO-friendly content that shows off their industry expertise while engaging readers. To find out more about the content I can create for your brand, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.