Next in our series on Working in Hospitality, we’ll look into training and working FOH in a coffee shop. As always, the first step is getting the job, once you have, it’s important to know how best to go about the role.
What’s required of you will vary depending on the venue you’re working in, but the core principles will remain the same. We can’t tell you what it is like everywhere but we can give you an insight into some of the things to expect
Before you Start
Let’s start with the most important thing! We’re sure you might know this already, but FOH stands for front of house. This role is different to many other customer service roles and in this instance you are the face of the business. You represent the coffee shop that you’re working in. The reason is that you are a key part of a customer’s interaction with the business. No this isn’t as daunting as it sounds, so you can relax a bit. What this means is how you conduct yourself, your service and presentation is important both for the business and your customers. So smile, listen, be patient and be organised.
Now, let’s take a look at what you can expect in this role.
You’ll naturally be nervous, especially if this is your first time doing this kind of role. Although, if your manager has done their job, you’ll have some idea of what you’re in for. You’ve probably been to plenty of coffee shops before, but it’s always different serving someone to being served, so this can be a new experience.
Your day won’t be the most exciting, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. You’ll meet the other members of your team, and your manager will take you through the on-boarding process. This is your paperwork, personal details you’ll need to fill out to get paid and so on – all the admin basically. Then you’ll be shown around the venue, where everything goes and you’ll be paired with a team member who will be shadowing.
One thing you’ll definitely be doing is cleaning. Whilst this is no one’s favourite task, it’s crucial for the smooth running of the business. Plus, a key part of working in FOH is presentation – it’s your job to ensure your venue is as neat and tidy as possible for customers. It’s also the perfect way for you to learn where everything goes – be it mugs, plates, cutlery or anything else you may need.
It’s important not only to listen to on your first day, but to ask as many questions as possible. There is no such thing as a stupid question, especially on your first day! Also don’t be too hard on yourself, you won’t get everything right on your first day.
The First Week
Your first two or three shifts will be spent shadowing and directly working alongside one of your colleagues. They will run you through your responsibilities and show you how you go about your daily tasks. Use this time wisely, as you’ll have someone directly with you to answer any of your questions as and when they come up. Not to worry, you’re still being eased into the job at this most. You most likely won’t be performing many tasks. Instead, you will be following your work mate and observing them as they go about their day. Keep a close eye on the following:
- How they greet and interact with customers
- Are there certain questions they always ask? For example, will you be having in or taking away? Would you just like coffee or are you eating as well?
- What items do they always carry? Perhaps a note pad for orders, multiple pens, a cloth for wiping tables – this will vary from venue to venue.
- Note the order in which things are done, where things are placed and how they interact with other members of staff.
- Take note of what information they give to the baristas, kitchen staff etc. This is crucial as good communication between your team helps everything run smoothly.
Depending on how quickly you pick things up, after your first two or three shifts, you’ll swap roles with your colleague. Now it’s their turn to shadow you. You will now perform your front of house tasks yourself. Any questions or things you may miss, they will be there to help. You will greet customers, take orders, collect and deliver those orders, communicate with your other team members and clear and clean tables. This is where you’ll get a real feel for your role and develop your own way of working! By the end of the week, you’ll be on your own with your colleagues keeping an eye on you from afar!
The First Few Months
Now that you’ve found your feet, this will be where the real work begins for you. You’ll find your flow, learn your way around your venue and pick on the little nuances of your role; the best way to handle difficult customers, befriend your regulars, and how to keep your venue as tidy and efficient as possible, all while providing friendly service of course. From this point forward the key is to remember the core components of your role whilst applying your own unique charm and personality to everything you do – this is why you were hired after all!
So now you have some idea of what to expect in your FOH training, here are the most important things to remember:
- There is no substitute for quality service. Every customer, where possible, should be given the same level of friendly service. This is what will separate your venue from any others that your customers may go to, and will keep them coming back.
- Presentation is key. How you present yourself and your venue is key to a great experience for your customers. Keep your venue as clean as you can and present yourself as best you can.
- Communication makes everything easier. This is what makes even the busiest shifts, as smooth as possible. It will keep things running smoothly and help everyone perform their roles efficiently. This is a two way street, you need to listen as much as you speak to others.
A good FOH team is essential to so many businesses. With these skills in mind, you’ll be able to help and delight customers, wherever your career may take you.