How do I Become a Restaurant Manager?

Managers of restaurants are one of the most common hospitality positions. Restaurants are, after all, all around us and probably the hospitality establishment the general population frequents the most. While almost every city of any size is able to support scores or even hundreds of restaurants, the market is competitive. And it’s not uncommon to see new restaurants fail. While sometimes this is due to the “concept” of the restaurant being off, oftentimes restaurants fail due to mismanagement and poor business decision. Balancing marketing, pricing, the supply chain of dishes, storage, waste, payroll, HR, public relations, and regulatory concerns, requires a very wide-ranging skill set. This skill set — while obtained and mastered by many — requires years of experience or very specific education. And that’s what we will talk about below.

First off: Job Responsibilities and Opportunities of a Restaurant Manager

We all know restaurants vary widely, and with that variety comes many different specific sets of restaurant manager job responsibilities. But a core set of responsibilities shared by many restaurant management positions include the following:

  • Manage and obtain a thorough understanding of how the front and back of the house coordinate in daily restaurant operations.
  • Maximize customer satisfaction and strive to continue increasing quality of service.
  • Work in tandem with marketers (if available) by suggesting ways to reach larger audiences and media.
  • Respond promptly to customer complaints and implement procedures to circumvent future complaints.
  • Appraise staff performance and implement systems for improvement and feedback.
  • Manage and supervise restaurant shifts to aid employee needs as well as increase quality of service.
  • Create revenue and expense reports at regular intervals.
  • Help to plan in the procuring and storage of food products, kitchen implements, and equipment necessary for running of restaurant.
  • Identify ways to cut waste.
  • Train new and current employees.
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and sanitation procedures.
  • Promote the brand locally, through networking, and at restaurant events.
  • Lead by example and motivate staff, particularly at busy times.
  • Balance seating capacity with staff and food items on hand.

As for opportunities as a restaurant manager, there are restaurant management opportunities in cities of every size around the world. At the time of writing (November, 2017) lists over 100,000 restaurant manager openings in America alone. Similarly to the variety in quality and type of restaurant, these positions have salaries that vary widely. The median salary for current restaurant management positions in America is about $50,000 a year. Though many top restaurants pay restaurant managers more than $100,000. For the entrepreneurial, there’s always the option to start your own restaurant as well. In which case the prosperity of the restaurant (or restaurants) can translate into much larger incomes.

Types of Restaurant Manager Positions

While many small restaurants may only need one general purpose manager, as quality of service, range of restaurant offerings, or size of restaurant increase, so does the need for levels of management. Common restaurant management positions include front of the house (dining room) managers, back of the house (kitchen) managers, general managers, chef managers, marketing managers, and bar managers. General managers are often the highest level of management in a restaurant and what many think of a restaurant manager.

Becoming a Restaurant Manager Through Education

Most restaurant manager positions will require at least some experience in the front and back of the house. Additionally, restaurant managers are often required to have in-depth knowledge of the types of food and beverages being prepared. Historically, this has led to many restaurant manager positions requiring at least 5 years of experience, with potential employers looking at the quality of establishment applicants have worked at. Many restaurants today, however, are increasingly efficient and multi-faceted entities that need knowledge of many managerial fields as well as domain-specific knowledge. This has led many employers to seek applicants for restaurant management positions that hold at least an associate’s degree in hospitality management, and preferable a bachelor’s in hospitality management. Corresponding degree levels with a degree in business administration is also often of interest to employers. In more competitive markets in which there are many qualified and experienced candidates, or for particularly well known restaurants, a master’s in hospitality management may be required. For those working their way up through the management ranks of a restaurant, they should inquire with their employers to see whether they may be able to obtain funds for returning back to school.

Becoming a Restaurant Manager Through Experience

As mentioned above, many restaurants have historically required something along the lines of 5 years of experience in the front and back of the house to become a restaurant manager. For some restaurants, this is still the case. And the more experience (and the higher the quality of the establishment you’ve worked in) the more the scales of employment are tipped in your favor, with or without a degree. Skills that may be harder to gain on the job include some accounting and record keeping that is required of restaurant managers, as well as concepts to aid in the management of human resources and the restaurant’s supply chain. For those that are motivated, many of these skills may be learned on your own or on the job. Obtaining these skills, however, will require that you position yourself in the right roles, or volunteer for the right experiences at work. Most large restaurants will managers of multiple sections of the restaurant taking stock of resources, tracking waste, and learning how to best optimize their employees. These are the building blocks of higher management in restaurants and may be obtained on the job.

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