Restaurant managers are primarily responsible for making sure that the restaurant operates efficiently and profitably, maintaining its focus and reputation, while providing the best possible experience for its clientele. It’s a tall order for any professional! Unlike a chef or an owner however, the manager is a paid employee who is responsible for the overall experience in a fast-paced environment.
Managers need a wide variety of skills to be successful in their chosen careers. Management is first and foremost a business, so you’ll need to have a solid understanding of business practices and the right temperament to manage people. Hospitality and restaurant management are also aspects of culinary arts, so it’s important to understand all facets of food, safety and many other functions related to culinary arts and food service and production.
Managers need to be confident and comfortable leaders with a solid base of understanding and education. Good leaders don’t micromanage – they provide direction and trust their staff to handle the details to accomplish the job at hand. Leaders are developed with experience. Restaurant managers are typically responsible for wait staff, bartenders, front of house staff, and sometimes the cooking staff and inventory, depending on venue. Managing a diverse group of people can be a challenge, and requires leaders to be fearless, self-assured and knowledgeable, understanding and maintaining the right balance of authority, training and motivation. Restaurant managers are culpable for the entire customer experience, and the weight of expectations falls on their shoulders ultimately.
The best managers are hands-on capable and jump in to provide support when work needs to be done. They are active and participate wherever they are needed during busy or rush times. They communicate well and often with staff and clients alike, making sure that each customer leaves satisfied and willing to return. In the rare event that a client is not happy, the manager steps in swiftly and quietly to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, providing top-notch customer service that turns the client around. There may also be times when the manager may need to jump on the cooking line or hand-deliver time sensitive dishes. These requirements mean that a restaurant and hospitality manager must have a thorough understanding of every job in the restaurant, in order to be able to help out when needed to keep the level of service (and expectations) high.
Managers are typically the first to arrive during the day and the last ones to leave in the evening. While they may help out in different areas when needed, they also spend quite a bit of time in an office sorting through paperwork, communicating with staff, owners and vendors and performing day-to-day operational tasks. Managers are responsible for ordering food and supplies in many cases, as well as rotation of stock, overseeing deliveries and safeguarding the business and clientele by assuring adherence to sanitation and safety guidelines.
In addition, managers take a lead role in chef recruitment, staff hiring, training and management, scheduling and evaluations. They also work in conjunction with the owner to perform business specific tasks such as marketing, payroll and taxes, accounts payable, branding and advertising and perhaps even expansion possibilities.
Because of the wide variety of skills needed to be a restaurant manager, you need to have not only culinary training but also a strong background in business as well. Students seeking to become managers should be able to think on their feet and make quality decisions rapidly and efficiently. Students should be comfortable speaking in front of people, managing potentially awkward situations and angry or upset customers. The hours are long, demands are many and the stress is high, but the pay is greater as a manager than in many other culinary positions. With more experience and education, the pay rate and benefits increase. Many aspiring restaurant managers choose to pursue a degree in hospitality management, as this encompasses all of the necessary skills.
There are many schools that offer solid hospitality management programs. Curriculum varies, as does the type of degree, depending on the institution and area. It’s important to select a school that’s accredited, thus allowing you to continue your education and transfer if necessary later in your career. Students should always consider selecting a degree-granting program over a certificate or institution when you have the choice.
When selecting an institution, consider your long-term career goals as well as your finances. A school with a quality externship or placement program is ideal. Sometimes, it may be beneficial to attend a local community college for part of the term, transferring after a year or two to the advanced program at another institution.
The hospitality industry is extensive, and affords a wide array of career options. The industry is dynamic and diverse, with positions in not only restaurants and lodging, but resorts, cruise lines, casinos and many, many more.
Restaurant Manager Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the average hourly income for restaurant and food service managers to be $25.72, and the mean annual wage to be $53,500. Payscale.com estimates the average salary for restaurant managers at $41,387 per year. The difference in statistics may be due to the nature of the businesses included or excluded in each consensus, but it is apparent that competition is high for this profession.