Restaurant managers are responsible for making sure that a restaurant runs smoothly at all times. They will be expected to perform numerous tasks throughout the day, which will fall into one of two categories. Firstly, restaurant managers deal with the business side of the establishment and secondly, they deal with matters occurring within the restaurant environment.
Restaurants are extremely complex working environments and in order for an establishment to become successful, the separate components (for instance, the front of house area, the eating area, the bar, and the kitchen) need to work together smoothly at all times. Restaurant managers are responsible for ensuring that this occurs on a daily basis and particularly at busy times when the establishment is under intense pressure. They will be expected to oversee the business side of the restaurant and will also focus upon marketing and advertising within the local area and further afield, depending upon the size of the establishment. Restaurant managers must ensure that all members of staff adhere to strict health and safety regulations and will do all they can to maintain the particular ethos of the establishment.
Individuals starting work as trainee restaurant managers can expect to earn a minimum of £16,000 per year, although this figure could be as high as £20,000 depending upon the size and nature of the restaurant. After several years in the role, restaurant managers should earn around £35,000 but this figure could rise depending upon reputation. A figure of £40,000 for restaurant managers who have held the same position for over ten years should not be unrealistic. Bonus payments are not uncommon in this role and discounts may be available on food and drink at the establishment on a regular basis.
The precise tasks performed by restaurant managers will differ depending upon the nature of the restaurant. However, the following tasks are typical:
- Drawing up shift timetables and informing staff of their shift patterns
- Disciplining and providing support for members of staff
- Recruiting new staff and providing training for them
- Briefing staff on their tasks prior to the start of each shift
- Making sure each area of the establishment is working together and communicating properly
- Making sure that there are no double bookings
- Greeting guests and ensuring they are happy throughout their meal
- Dealing with complaints
- Assessing the financial state of the restaurant and making appropriate alterations to the business plans
- Organising advertising campaigns
- Overseeing food orders
- Drawing up new menus and finding new sources to supply food and drink
- Making sure the restaurant adheres to a budget
- Ensuring that healthy and safety regulations are met at all times
- Helping out manually in the kitchen during busy times
- Assisting the waiting staff during busy times
Becoming a restaurant manager without holding a degree or relevant qualification is rare but can happen. Some individuals join restaurants after leaving school and simply work their way up to the management positions on merit. However, degree subjects in hospitality management or business management will provide you with the basis for making a more conventional application for the role. Large chains such as fast food chains offer management trainee schemes but competition for places on such schemes is fierce.
Once an individual has successfully become a trainee restaurant manager, they can gain additional qualifications. It may be worth joining a professional body, which will provide opportunities for further education and will give managers general support and advice. Perhaps the best of these bodies is the Institute of Hospitality. Information on seminars and relevant workshops can be found on the institute’s website.
Restaurant managers will need to possess the following skills in order to be successful:
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Excellent customer service skills
- Team-leading skills
- The ability to work independently
- The ability to use own initiative
- Good business skills and knowledge of consumer trends and patterns
- The ability to remain calm under pressure
- Tact and diplomacy
- Good numeracy skills
- The ability to motivate others but also impose disciplinary measures if necessary
- Good problem-solving skills
- Good organisational skills
Restaurant managers will spend much of their time on their feet, moving between different areas of the eating establishment. The working environments may not be particularly comfortable. For instance, the kitchen may be hot and stuffy and, if there is a separate office area, it may be cramped in order for it to fit physically into the restaurant environment. Shift work is common and this does not suit everybody. Furthermore, evening and weekend work is part of the role and restaurant managers will often need to work late at night. Most restaurant managers enjoy their role and find it very rewarding holding a position of responsibility as well as being provided with the opportunity to interact with members of the public. However, it can be stressful at times, particularly when dealing with complaints.
Gaining relevant experience is just as important as holding relevant qualifications. You could ask a local restaurant for some work experience or the chance to shadow a restaurant manager for a few days. Any experience in a hospitality setting will look good on a CV, as will any evidence of team-leading skills.
Major employers of restaurant managers include:
- Large restaurant chains
- Independent restaurants
- Hotel restaurants
Many restaurant managers choose to become catering managers, which involves work in a larger working environment such as a school canteen. Alternatively, management roles in other sectors in the hospitality industry are popular, including positions as hotel managers. Restaurant managers who are seeking a greater challenge may choose to make the move to a less successful restaurant. This provides them with the opportunity to really test their skills and can be very rewarding.
What’s it really like?
Tracey Honeysett has been restaurant manager and co-owner of Drakes on the Pond restaurant in Abinger Hammer, Surrey since 2000.
Tracey started in the restaurant business by doing a chef apprenticeship with Grand Metropolitan Hotels in London, her first job being at the Mayfair Hotel. She then spent four years in Munich as a chef and went into event management for an outside catering company on her return to the UK.
In a typical day at Drakes, Tracey prepares the food from around 8.15am to 11am. She then spends an hour doing her paperwork and then gets herself ready for the restaurant opening at 12.30pm. Her last lunchtime diners are usually out of the restaurant by 3.00pm. Depending upon the time of year, Tracey may then be faced with a large pile of washing up although at busy times, the restaurant employs someone to do this chore. The tables which have been used then have to be re-laid and this task is performed prior to Tracey taking a well-earned rest before she returns for dinner service at 6.30pm. During the week she is usually able to lock up at 11.30pm, although at weekends this could be much later.
The restaurant has a maximum capacity of 32 diners and on an average week, they have 100 covers, of which 25 will be at lunchtime and 75 at dinnertime. Tracey loves meeting new people, enjoys the cooking associated with the job since she is a chef by training, and revels in the fact that no two days are ever the same. Surprisingly, she does not mind the long hours, since this is something that she has always been used to throughout her working life. Her pet hate of the job is aggressive customers and she is not too keen on the washing up either!
Her eventual ambition would be to buy a freehold restaurant, perhaps with rooms. Tracey would advise individuals considering entering the industry to knock on doors locally. By helping out, even on an unpaid basis, you can see whether you like the job and whether you can withstand its rigours. To apply for a course with no prior experience in the workplace would be a bad move according to Tracey. Most restaurateurs are more than happy to show people the ropes. She said that at the moment, the industry is going through a difficult period as a result of the credit crunch but that normally, the industry is always looking for people and having someone to do the washing up, peel potatoes, and do a spot of waiting at tables is always helpful. She also suggests that individuals take advantage of the Internet and take a look at a restaurant’s menus before deciding where to apply for work experience.
The highlight of Tracey’s career came in January 2002 when Drakes was awarded a Michelin star. The restaurant’s customer base increased three-fold after the award was announced in the press and, much to Tracey’s delight, the restaurant has kept its star ever since. The inspection is done on an anonymous basis and is carried out at regular intervals to ensure that the high standards are maintained.