How to motivate front of house staff

21 November, 2017 by
Madeline Woolway

Chefs’ might be the celebrities of the culinary world, but front of house (FOH) staff play an undeniably important role communicating a restaurant’s offering to diners. Providing warm, engaging and informative service is so important, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants introduce The Ferrari Trento Art of Hospitality Award in 2016. Given their central role in exciting guests, FOH staff need to be motivated and informed.

Every day at Supernormal involves multiple briefing sessions for the FOH team, says FOH manager Zoë Rubino, with staff congregating five or so minutes before each start time. During briefing sessions the floor manager runs the team through menu changes, from alterations to new additions. Getting the most out of a brief requires strategy though.

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“It’s really important to be calm and prepared,” says Rubino. “If you rush through a brief because you need to get out onto the floor then people aren’t going to remember it. It makes people frantic, if you’re throwing them into the shift in a frantic way. It’s got to be fun and invigorating.”

Here, Rubino shares her top five tips to get floor staff at the top of their game before service.

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Get to work early

Don’t rush out of the office when you’re about to start briefing people. Hang out and have a coffee, check in on someone’s weekend, their days off or their morning, just to make sure that they’re all good to go for work.

Rally the troops

Let everyone know when you’re going to be briefing and where. Make sure they’re organised.

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Crack a joke

Work is meant to be fun. It’s really important to be lighthearted. We aren’t brain surgeons after all. We’re here to let people know that we’ve got really good product to serve.

Throw a pop quiz

Have the floor manager run them through what the oysters are, if there are any wine changes, if there’s something new on the menu. All that information also should have been emailed out the day before, so they should know it already. Then we’ll do the pop quiz — I’m mad for a pop quiz. They’re great for making sure everyone knows what they’re meant to, like ‘what’s our new wine like?’, ‘what’s a fun fact about it?’, ‘what’s it taste like?’ Get everyone involved. You might need to entice information from some staff members a little more than others, but that comes back to lightening the mood a little bit.

Get the kitchen involved

Make sure everyone gets to taste the dishes. If there’s a new cocktail, we’d have a look it and taste it. If the bartender has invented the cocktail, he’d be at the brief training everyone, letting them know what his inspiration was. If there’s a new wine, we’ll crack a bottle open and all have a taste. If there’s a new dish then the kitchen will pop into the brief with the dishes and talk about it.