BOH vs. FOH and How to Manage BOH Kitchen Staff

August 26, 2021

Restaurants need to manage their staff effectively to reach their business goals. 

That’s easy enough to do when the staff members are right in front of your eyes — but it can be a challenge to keep back-of-house employees on track since you typically won’t see them as much.

We’ve put together this article to help you with that. Below, we’ll provide an overview of a restaurant’s back-of-house and some strategies to help you manage the employees that you staff in it more effectively.

What is BOH? Back of House Explained!

BOH meaning in restaurants

Back-of-house is a term that describes the behind-the-scenes restaurant work that customers can’t see. At most places, this means the kitchen, the dishwashing area and prep stations. It also typically includes offices, break rooms and any other spaces in which business that customers can’t see takes place.

FOH vs. BOH: How FOH and BOH meanings differ?

Front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) are opposites. Whereas customers don’t see what takes place in the BOH, they do see what takes place in the FOH.

The distinction is worth making because the objectives and responsibilities of front-of-house employees are different from those of back-of-house staff. FOH restaurant employees need to prioritize customer service above all else, whereas BOH staff need to prioritize speed without sacrificing anything in the way of quality. More importantly, the differences between BOH and FOH meanings mean that they need to be managed differently.

Additionally, restaurant managers typically spend the majority of their time in the front-of-house. That means they can supervise FOH employees face-to-face and quickly correct mistakes when they occur.

BOH employees generally look after themselves for long periods of time. Managing them can be more difficult because their mistakes often take longer to spot. 

The key here is that FOH and BOH employees require different types of management and that’s why they’re usually distinguished from one another.

Restaurant back of the house staff and what do they do?

Understanding BOH Restaurant Positions

What is a BOH position and how do you differentiate between BOH and FOH? Any employee that works outside the vision of customers is technically a back-of-house staff member. BOH positions are completely different from FOH positions. Some of these positions are:

  • Kitchen managers
  • Chefs
  • Line cooks
  • Prep workers
  • Dishwashers
  • Office employees

What do BOH workers and employees do?

BOH employees are essentially the infrastructure that allows a restaurant to function. It’s their job to prep ingredients, cook dishes and prepare meals for guests. They’re also typically responsible for cleaning tasks such as:

  • Sweeping and mopping the floors
  • Taking out the trash and recycling
  • Cleaning ovens and cooking utensils
  • Emptying grease traps
  • And other related tasks

Essentially, anything that needs to happen in your restaurant but that guests don’t see can qualify as a back-of-house function.

Why managing back of the house restaurant positions can be difficult

Though your customers don’t see them, your restaurant’s back-of-house staff plays just as important a role in delivering positive experiences as your front-of-house staff does. However, managing them can be difficult for a few reasons.

First, supervisors typically don’t see BOH staff members as much as they see FOH staff members. This makes it easier for them to forget to check-in and verify that BOH staff members are doing what they’re supposed to be doing throughout their shifts.

Additionally, while many restaurants invest in tools that make managing their FOH staff easier, not as many make the same investment in managing their BOH staff. This leads to inefficiencies that your restaurant could avoid with the right tools in place.

Strategies for managing back of house in restaurants

Now that we know who back-of-house is, what they do, and why managing them can be difficult, let’s see how we might resolve this problem. Here are four strategies you can try to begin managing your back-of-house staff more effectively.

Invest in continuous training for back of house employees

Many restaurants think of BOH training as a one-time thing for new employees. However, that’s not always the best strategy.

Investing in ongoing training for your BOH staff will ensure that the entire team stays sharp and up-to-date with everything that you want them to be doing.

Paying for ongoing training can also reduce turnover rates by allowing your employees to continuously learn and grow. It may also help to reduce your costs since well-trained employees tend to make fewer mistakes (which often cost you money).

Optimize kitchen space to boost back of house staff efficiency

You may find it easier to keep tabs on your BOH staff if you can see them more often. And one way to do that is by reorganizing the layout of your kitchen space.

For example, nooks and crannies that are out of eyeshot and earshot tend to be places where BOH staff waste time. Simply removing those areas so that they no longer cause this disruption may be all that it takes for you to keep your BOH restaurant staff on task more often.

Additionally, poorly designed kitchens can be time-wasters even when your BOH staff intends to stay on task. For example, if chefs have to make a long trip across the kitchen multiple times an hour to fetch a certain utensil, you may be able to improve their performance by moving that utensil closer to them.

Keep your back of the house employees included

Another idea is to try giving your BOH staff more of a voice in restaurant dialogue. If you feel that they’re not being as efficient as you would like them to be, consider talking to them about why that’s the case instead of simply dictating solutions that you hope will work.

For one, doing so will give you the on-the-ground perspective that management often lacks. This could help you identify and resolve issues that you might not have otherwise known existed.

Additionally, your back of house staff will appreciate you for involving them in discussions that have to do with their performance. If you make their voices heard, they’ll be more likely to follow through with whatever solutions you end up coming up with together.

Set goals and track progress of BOH in restaurants

It’s also important for your back-of-house staff to have goals that they’re working towards. This will mean different things for different restaurants.

For example, maybe your team has an issue with excess food waste. If so, you might set weekly and monthly goals for food waste reduction. You could even tempt your staff to work diligently towards that goal with some type of reward.

Goals give kitchen staff direction and purpose. Plus, doing so will help to improve employee morale by allowing them to work together as a team towards a specific goal.

Digital signage makes it easier to keep your restaurant's back of house staff on task

Investing in the right technology can have a huge impact on how effectively you’re able to keep your BOH staff on task. Digital signage could be precisely the solution that you’ve been looking for to accomplish this goal.

Digital signage helps to keep BOH employees focused

With digital signage, you can create dynamic displays that remind your employees exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at different points in their shift.

For example, maybe you have an issue with prep taking longer than it should before dinner service. You could use digital signage to provide your BOH staff with a constant reminder of when they need to finish prep and what steps they need to complete at various points in the day to accomplish everything on time.

Use digital signage to remind your BOH staff about food health and safety

Food health and safety are incredibly important. Without it, no restaurant can succeed. However, it can be easy for a BOH staff member to forget about some food health and safety tasks throughout a long, busy shift.

Digital signage is an excellent way to remind your staff members about things like:

  • Not leaving food out too long
  • Placing ingredients in the proper containers
  • Ensuring that they cook all foods to the proper temperature
  • Using good hygiene throughout a shift
  • And other aspects of food health and safety

Digital signage helps boost morale of the back of the house roster

You can also use your digital signage displays to boost your employees’ morale. You can do that by keeping track of a goal that they’re working towards or by displaying encouraging messages throughout a shift.

Whatever type of messaging you think will resonate with your BOH staff and motivate them, you can share it with a digital signage display located in your back-of-house.

UPshow helps restaurants keep their back of house staff on task

If you think that digital signage is right for your restaurant’s back-of-house, consider using UPshow. Our powerful digital signage software provides you with all of the functionality that you need to get better at keeping your BOH staff on task and motivated.

You can even use UPshow to help the front-of-house staff in your restaurant along with making the front of your restaurant more engaging for your customers. Our platform is perfect for displaying dynamic, engaging menus, advertising to your customers, and keeping them entertained. It’s an all-in-one solution that helps restaurants reduce inefficiency, improve their marketing and make their venue a more enjoyable place to be.Want to learn more? Fill out this form to schedule a free custom demo of our software today and we’ll show you exactly how your restaurant can benefit from using UPshow.

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