Tips for Hiring Front of House Employees by Phil Shumeiko, Restaurant Consultant

Front of house employees play an integral role in achieving not only restaurant profitability but also overall success. The value added by good front of house personnel begins before the first candidate applies.

On the most basic level, with 40 hours of training, the cost of hiring the wrong front of house employee is around $560. This number does not take into consideration the time invested by management and team members in hiring and training as well the potential cultural damage or stagnation inflicted to the existing team. More than anything, the time invested into a wrong hire is time not spent enhancing other areas of the business.

A wrong hire is a potential step in damaging the brand as opposed to hiring the right personnel to protect and enrich the guest experience.  However, if hiring managers are proactive in their recruitment, selection, and retention processes the potential losses stemming from a wrong hire can be mitigated. This includes knowing where to find high potential candidates, being aware of recruitment best practices, recognizing red flags, and retaining high performing employees.

Before a successful front of house employee is hired, hiring managers need to establish a solid foundation to base their recruitment and retention processes. This includes revisiting the job descriptions to distinguish between hard skills and soft skills, evaluate organizational needs against the job description, and understand what they are looking for in an ideal candidate.

Organizational culture is a major deciding factor in maintaining employee satisfaction but also determining if potential new hires will be a good organizational fit. Luckily, there are several avenues available to access high potential candidates. The best place to find new talent is internally, either through recommendations from the team or existing employees. Ask your team, be open and empower them to play a role in deciding who will be by their side for the next rush. In addition, hiring platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, and HCareers are all valuable resources when trying to find front of house employees but should never be relied on entirely.

As always, there are certain red flags hiring managers should be aware of. When interviewing a candidate it isn’t a good indication of a great front of house employee if they gossip about former employers, arrive late, lack specific work examples or vocalize upfront demands.

Hiring and keeping the best front of house employees requires using best practices in recruitment and retention. To ensure candidates are the correct fit for your company, hiring managers would do well to involve the senior members of their team in interviews or information sessions and remember to avoid last minute hires and rushed recruiting. This means managers should be aware of seasonal staff changes to avoid the opportunity for staff to provide inferior guest experience because they feel under staffed and over worked. Moreover, restaurateurs should always strive to be transparent about challenges, goals, and initiatives of the restaurant to help manage candidates’ expectations.

In the end, the team members you choose to bring onboard will play a vital role in representing your business to your guests. Any hiring decisions, culture need always outweigh previous experience. Empower your team, be proactive, and invest the time upfront to reap the benefits (or lack of headaches) in the future.

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