Front of House, Back of House and Serving up the best experiences

The following article was contributed by Alison L. Mueller, Director of Enrollment Management for the Diocese of Manchester.

I, like many people in their youth, used to wait tables… and I loved it. The whole experience of welcoming guests, creating an excellent customer-centered experience aligned with the company’s brand.  In the restaurant business, there are two key terms to indicate operations: Front of House and Back of House.  The Front of House (FOH) was everything the customer sees and typically consisted of wait staff, tables, waiting area, merchandise counter and décor.  The Back of House (BOH) was everything behind the scenes, typically the kitchen, prep area, dish area, etc.  Although customers only saw the FOH, the BOH experience was critically important to the overall success of the business.

I like to think of schools with that same mindset, having both a FOH and BOH.  The FOH is the “guest experience.” The classrooms, the reception staff, lobby, etc.  The BOH is the teachers, faculty room, support staff, etc.  How do they operate?  I know from experience, if the BOH isn’t happy, the customers aren’t happy, and if the FOH isn’t happy, the customers aren’t happy. They have a poor experience and in most cases, vow to never return.  This poor experience affects an organization’s brand.

If we know that the #1 way families hear about Catholic schools is through word of mouth, we need our BOH and FOH to be at optimal levels because if they’re not, and we’re not providing a superior in-person experience, that WILL affect our brand.  After all, the guest experience (aka campus visit) is the summit of all our other experiences with our guests. It is the final destination. They took the time and energy to show up.  Our school life is our brand-alive!  The FOH and BOH must work in tandem in order for us to be true and authentic in our brand identity.  When assessing your own school, it’s best to start with a survey.  Find out where your staff is at.  Begin to understand your school community as stakeholders in the process of wowing your guests.  Keep in mind that these guests aren’t always prospective families either.  They’re alumni, grandparents, neighbors, etc.  In order for them to get a fantastic experience that keeps them wanting more, you must start with your team, the FOH and the BOH, to serve up the best experience.