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Managing Staff Turnover Rates in Your Distillery

08/17/2021 • Shawn Patrick

While craft distilleries are primarily focused on making craft spirits, there is a hospitality aspect to the business. This means that there are front-of-the-house (FOH) staff that will play a major role in the in-house sales and service. If you wish to manage and mitigate your turnover rates, there are some important things that you will need to do to keep your FOH staff on board and satisfied. 

Craft Distillery Staff

Front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house (BOH) are names that reflect the general position that hospitality workers in food and beverage assume within establishments. As their names allude to, the FOH workers work in the front, and the BOH workers work in the back of the facility 

The positions held by FOH workers may include waitstaff, bartenders, hosts/hostesses, etc. In a distillery, some BOH positions include jobs in the office, kitchen, distillery production area, and warehouse.


Create Positive Culture

High turnover rates in the service industry are largely based on chaotic or dysfunctional work environments. By eliminating the potentially negative factors in your company, you'll make great strides to reduce your turnover rate among your general staff, including both FOH and BOH employees.

Your management team must be positive and have great team-building skills. Keep your staff fully engaged in the process—listen to their input and concerns. Pay competitive wages. Lastly, regularly evaluate performance and reward those that perform on the highest level while granting guidance to those that are on the lower end.

Your internal culture is a reflection of your brand. Your staff can be your first and best brand evangelists if the time is taken to develop a solid internal culture. Happy servers & bartenders will generate business, fill your tasting room, and make your distillery the spot to be. If they're in a good environment they may even manage your social media for you.

Interview Correctly

A great defense against high turnover rates among FOH staff is effective interviewing and assessing their fit in your culture. Making the right character evaluations is key to weeding out those that may not be good long-term workers. 

Get Past Their Representative

Any seasoned interviewer knows that during the interview process you're more likely to meet the prospective hire's 'representative' rather than their real self. It's very natural for people to inflate their work ethic, experience, or other elements of their personality when they're seeking a job. It's generally not intentional but could skew your perception of their fit into your company culture if you don't work around it or break through it.

Ask Questions

Asking the right questions and having an open, relaxing dialogue is a great way to break down their representative's defenses and get to know the person you're interviewing. Some sample questions:

  • What's your favorite band? Have you seen them live?
  • Where was your last job?
  • Do you have serving/bartending experience?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What's your favorite drink?
  • Who was the best manager you've had and why?

Based on their answers to these questions, you can tell if they will fit into your company culture. The simplest way to get to know your potential hire is through genuine curiosity and authenticity.