As a working environment, restaurants have ebbs and flows in stress levels. One season, it can be a constant frantic pace that’s punctuated with lulls of quiet, and in slow times, it’s the opposite.
When it’s calm, steady business, it’s easy for your team to work together. Poor employee relations go unnoticed and slip-ups in communications can be handled without disturbing the customer experience.
It’s when things get busy that these dysfunctions transform your restaurant team into a discombobulated mass of opposing operations and communications. This is nowhere as obvious as the relations between chef and FOH staff.
Any person who has worked in a restaurant is familiar with the untouchable aura that surrounds a chef. Depending on the restaurant, they are the “creative geniuses” behind the scenes, and the usual rules don’t apply to them. While the chef benefits from the independence, this kind of rock-stardom has proven to have a bad affect on FOH performances and the overall guest experience.
If servers are too intimidated to talk to the chef, then order changes don’t happen, questions aren’t asked, high tensions fracture fragile working relationships, and the team suffers from poor communication. Below, we suggest several ways to improve relations with your chef and FOH staff.
When changes are made to a menu or new specials added, your chef must call a staff meeting to review what’s new. New ingredients and cooking processes should be explained, as well as flavor profiles, wine pairings, and interesting tidbits about the dish (such as, if the dish is Chef’s version of a classic, or was inspired by a recent trip). If it’s a protein, then it’s important to share its origins and how it was sourced. Customers love to hear about the food they’re ordering, and your FOH team can use every detail to sell, sell, sell.
Allow the FOH staff to taste the food while the recipes are explained in detail. Then, close the meeting with questions from them. With detailed answers and descriptors, the FOH is armed and ready to 86 the food specials.
Lavu Pro Tip: Avoid using chef jargon with the FOH staff. They probably won’t know what you mean, and it will save time to speak plainly with them.
Use a Kitchen POS Interface to Clear up Communications
Improve communications right away with a kitchen display system without shouting or last-minute changes. There are so many details that need to be shared quickly, and that’s difficult when employees are busy. Overall, you’ll find that it reduces tensions from both sides of the house.
Here are the ways the Lavu Kitchen Display System improves output and transparency:
- Itemized orders
- Late order notifications
- Ticket updates
- Modifiers appear in red, for easy viewing
- Expand button, to make an order full screen for clear visibility
- Real-time communication on your local network
- See the number of items on a ticket
- Order prep instructions
- Paid and unpaid identifiers
- Customizable interface options
- Customizable display options
- Customizable headers
- Order timer
- Reporting on order times and item times
With this kind of restaurant management software:
- Orders are not skipped or missed.
- FOH can relay customer requests fast and in real time, giving the BOH time to adjust.
- Productivity increases.
As an extra bonus, your staff relations improve, stress levels reduce, and the work environment is more enjoyable.
Don’t Kill the Messenger
As head chef, you know it’s not your server asking for that gluten-free pasta option, it’s the customer. When possible, accommodate change requests for the menu and don’t punish the messenger for it. You and the FOH team are working together to make the best guest experience possible, and this starts with a motivated, confident FOH staff.
Avoid Being Abrasive
It was fashionable for head chefs to be abrasive and militant in kitchens to produce the perfect results. Times are changing though, and partly because of the terrible affect this management style has on the team. The FOH team, especially, is different from the BOH in that they enjoy interpersonal communications. It’s probably one of the reasons why they started working in a restaurant in the first place. Chefs need to allow the FOH to talk to them without the fear of being yelled at, insulted, or ignored.
In lieu of the previous point, maintaining professionalism is the key to managing relations between the BOH and FOH. When a server makes a mistake, work with him or her to correct it right away without anger. Wait for a quiet time of the day or after service to explain how things should have been done.
Be Thankful for the Team
Remember: All employees are working together to get the same result. Thank both the FOH and BOH teams for their efforts, especially after a hard, relentless shift. The FOH team is fielding difficult customers and is the one taking any heat for slip-ups from the kitchen. In these moments, it’s important to recognize the FOH and show gratitude. Start getting to know your FOH coworkers and over time, this will strengthen your working relationships and improve the guest experience.
Lastly, as the restaurant owner or manage, it’s your duty to improve relations; first, talk with your chef about why he or she needs to make this effort. Get the ball rolling and schedule food tastings, set up a kitchen display system, and host an employee happy hour.
Facebook: 40-160 characters/ occasional 240
- How are relations between your head chef and FOH team? If you’re wincing, here are some ways to change that.
- The restaurant industry is finished with angry head chefs.
- Improving the relations between chef and FOH team might sound impossible, but the guest experience depends on it.
- It’s not impossible to improve relations with your chef and FOH.
- Chefs: Quit being so intimidating and let the FOH ask questions. Customers will get a better service (and spend more) as a result.
- It’s easier to upsell the daily specials when Chef is open to questions.
Twitter: 70-100 characters
- If your head chef and FOH team don’t get along, here are some ways to change that.
- Restaurant owners don’t want to deal any more with the stereotypical angry head chef.
- Mission Possible: Improve the working relations between your head chef and FOH staff.
- Customers won’t see why the service got so good, but you’ll know the secret to success.
- Chefs: Don’t shoot the messenger. It’s never the server asking for paleo aioli.
LinkedIn: Fewer than 140 characters/ 25 words
- Change the way things are getting communicated at your restaurant.
- Restaurants are done with insufferable head chefs and working to improve relations between chefs and FOH.
- Advice on how to make the impossible possible.
- With a confident, supported FOH team, customers will get a better service and order more.
- Chefs: Change your tone with the FOH and you’ll find your daily specials flying off the inventory.