Want to Be a Restaurant Manager? 4 Tips to Make You Successful
Restaurant owners and chefs may get the glory, but they’re not necessarily the ones running the show. In many cases, they hire a restaurant manager for the day-to-day operations.
For owners who don’t have deep restaurant or management experience, hiring a manager who does can ensure that the business is run the way it should be run. It also frees the owner or chef from daily administrative tasks such as inventory, so they can focus on growing and marketing the business. Trusting the restaurant manager to do their job can lead to a restaurant running like a well-oiled machine.
Restaurant Manager Duties and Responsibilities
So what does a restaurant manager do? According to EHL Insights, they oversee all the operations of the restaurant, from the kitchen to the dining room. That requires juggling multiple tasks each day and requires strong organizational skills and interpersonal communication.
“In effect, a restaurant manager embodies general management, administration, customer services, human resources, supply chain & procurement, health and safety, compliance, accounting & marketing — all rolled into one,” EHL writes.
It’s a combination of hard skills, ranging from understanding restaurant software to knowing how to do accounting, and soft skills, the intangible qualities that lead to great management and customer service.
Hard skills for restaurant managers include the following, according to Small Business Chron:
- Controlling the supply chain. “Running out of ingredients is frustrating for cooks and diners alike and can damage a restaurant's reputation. On the other hand, stocking too much inventory ties up needed capital and can lead to waste. Orchestrating deliveries from multiple suppliers to maintain a suitable level of inventory is fundamental to a restaurant's success.”
- Managing the business. “These include the nuts and bolts of business management, such as accounting, budgeting, ensuring compliance with municipal regulations, and many similar functions. Profit margins are thin throughout the restaurant industry, and paying close attention to the bottom line can make the difference between success and failure.”
Many employers prefer that restaurant managers have a bachelor's degree in hospitality or training from a community college, notes Glassdoor. They must at least have a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as experience working in the food and beverage service industry. “Additionally, many restaurant managers are required to have their food handler certification card, which is obtained by taking a short course or program that covers food safety,” says Glassdoor.
Soft skills for restaurant managers include communication, problem-solving and conflict management, a positive attitude, attention to detail, multitasking, team spirit, language skills, cultural awareness, and taking criticism well, according to EHL Insights.
Tip 1: Learn the fact-based information you need to do your job, such as accounting and food safety, but remember to cultivate your listening and communication skills, as well.
What Are the Qualities That a Restaurant Manager Needs to Be Successful?
A good restaurant manager should be on top of everything, throughout the restaurant. That includes recipe costing, employee training, negotiating with suppliers, and much more. You should be aware of and up-to-date with everything that goes on. That doesn’t mean you need to micromanage your staff, but do strive to understand everyone’s role. That way, it’s much easier when you need to replace staff or deal with shortages.
For example, in the restaurant business, turnover rates can be more than 80%. That means you’ll be spending a lot of time posting job ads, interviewing, and hiring. This kind of work is unavoidable to an extent because some people tend to view restaurant work as temporary, but turnover can add to a restaurant’s costs.
Still, there are things you can do to reduce turnover — and that’s where the soft skills come in. Focus on making your staff feel valued and respected. Get to know them on an individual level, listen to their complaints and struggles, and help solve their problems.
EHL Insights lists the top five qualities restaurant managers need:
- You should be a host through and through and enjoy dealing with people
- You should show the ability to balance quality on the plate with financial constraints
- You need an eye for detail, the beauty and modernity
- You should be a communication talent
- Bring a professional, human and warm leadership personality to the table
Note that these are nearly all soft skills.
Tip 2: Your employees will determine your success. Hire good ones and treat them well — not just pay, but that too — to reduce turnover costs.
Challenges Restaurant Managers Face
Along the way, the restaurant manager can run into problems. These can include the following, according to RestaurantEngine.com:
- Employee turnover: “A continual movement of staff in and out of your restaurant, whether it’s front or back of house, can cause your managers a lot of issues.”
- Employee training: “Training staff can be quite challenging due to a constant influx of new team members and a busy restaurant. It can be hard to set aside time just for training.”
- Unpredictability: “If you have too many staff working a shift, your operating costs go up unnecessarily. If you have too few staff members working, you can’t possibly meet the needs of your diners.”
- Customer experience: “Bad online reviews are often the result of really bad customer service.”
- Inventory management: This includes not only ingredients for the restaurant itself but employee theft
Tip 3: All restaurants run into problems. What matters is how you deal with them.
How Can Software Help Restaurant Managers Do Their Jobs?
It’s easy to rely on spreadsheets and paper when it comes to inventory and scheduling. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Actually, tech can make things a whole lot easier here. Inventory management software means you can automate much of your inventory.
For example, you can arrange for numbers to be subtracted automatically when orders are placed and set automatic reordering for when stock levels dip. Similarly, scheduling software can also be a big help when managing shifts and time off, sending employees their shift times via email or text.
Tip 4: Keep up with trends in restaurant operations software to look for ways to automate whatever aspects of the job you can, to save time and money.
All in all, being a restaurant manager isn’t easy. According to Small Business Chron, “Restaurant managers work extremely long hours, sometimes as many as 12 to 15 hours per day, up to seven days per week. During the course of a given day, managers may deal with upset customers, fill in for staff, train staff members and place orders for food and other supplies. The long hours combined with the multiple responsibilities often lead to stress and exhaustion among restaurant managers.” But following these tips can make this critical job easier.