The first people your customers or clients meet when they enter your office are the front office staff. Since this first impression is an important one, you must have a strong front office structure. The organization structure of your front office department sets the tone for how you do business and how you treat your clients or customers.
What Is the Front Office Department?
The front office staff are typically the people who greet anyone who comes into your physical office. They are also often the same people who answer the phones when someone calls your office. Both of these make them the first point of contact for many of your customers and clients.
A front office department may include:
- One or more receptionists
- One or more secretaries or assistants
- An office manager
- Human resources manager
The organization structure of a front office department varies depending on the type of business. For instance, the hierarchy of the front office in the hotel industry includes reservation supervisors, cashiers, bell captains and information supervisors.
Creating a Front Office Position Chart
When you are putting together your front office staff, it’s helpful to have a front office position chart. That way, you don’t overlook an important position, and you can better organize your staff.
Setting a specific front office structure helps companies align roles, responsibilities and objectives for individuals in the company. This can create an overall synergy by separating tasks among individuals with the most experience or skills to complete tasks and activities.
You can create a front office position chart a few different ways depending on your needs. The organization structure of your front office department can:
- Be solely focused on manning the front desk and greeting customers or clients
- Include most office manager duties, such as maintaining supplies and the physical office space as well as overseeing office procedures
- Include human resources tasks, like new hire paperwork, expense reimbursement, employee travel and staff celebrations
- Be more like an executive assistant, handling the schedules, calls and meetings for upper management
- Help with external customer management in the form of online chat or social media
Duties and Responsibilities of the Front Office Staff
While the organization structure of a front office department varies by business, the duties and responsibilities of the front office staff are often the same. Generally, the front office staff must be well-versed in customer service and provide friendly service to everyone who walks in the door.
In most companies, the duties and responsibilities of the front office staff include:
- Answering phones and taking messages
- Greeting people when they walk in the door
- Making sure people sign in if needed
- Accepting and sending out mail and deliveries
- Filing and general paperwork
- Keeping the front office tidy, including refreshing flowers and reading material
- Ordering and restocking office supplies
Given the hierarchy of a front office in the hotel industry, the duties and responsibilities also include tasks specifically related to the hotel industry, such as:
- Taking reservations
- Helping people with their luggage
- Giving guests directions or recommendations
- Organizing transport
Front Office Organizational Structure
When creating your front office organizational structure, even for the hierarchy of a front office in the hotel industry, you want to work from the top down. Start from the person who is in charge of the front office (typically the office manager) and work your way down to the person who is the first person a client or customer sees (the receptionist). Doing that allows you to assess your needs and assign relevant tasks as needed.
In the process, you may find that you either need to add an extra position or that you don’t need quite as many people as you thought. Whichever way is best for your business, be sure you assign tasks and responsibilities in a way that gives your front office staff enough to do without being overburdened.
Leslie Bloom has worked in upper-level management positions in both publishing and the mental health field. In addition to years of business and management experience, she has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications, including Metro Magazine. She holds degrees in both journalism and law.