How to Become a Successful Restaurant Manager

restaurant with hanging lights

How to Become a Restaurant Manager

Every restaurant needs a manager to keep the business running smoothly and efficiently. Restaurant managers hire and schedule staff, keep everyone happy, and maintain resources. Namely, they ensure the restaurant has and uses its inventory and budget effectively. They’ll also ensure that the building meets health and safety standards.

Depending on the location, a restaurant manager may work with a team or have extra responsibilities. Regardless, they’ll be in charge of keeping the front and back of the house on task and organized.

You only need a high school diploma to find a job in restaurant management. However, many choose to pursue a degree in hospitality management. Some businesses require their managers to have their associate’s or bachelor’s. If you’re not looking to go to school for a few years or already have a degree, you might consider enrolling in a certificate program. These credentials will help you stand out in the crowd and will better prepare you for the job ahead.

To be effective in this role, a manager must wear many hats. Keep reading to learn the top eight traits of a great restaurant manager.

Top 8 Traits of a Great Restaurant Manager

As with any management position, you need to work well with others, be organized, and know how to delegate. But the restaurant industry is much different than other businesses. Notably, this industry comes with a unique set of challenges and benefits. However, this position can be rewarding. You’ll get the opportunity to try new foods, help young professionals enter their first job, and meet the people of your community.

So, what makes a great restaurant manager?

1. Leadership Skills

As with any management position, you need good leadership skills to succeed as a restaurant manager. You’ll have many responsibilities in this role. For example, you must maintain a schedule, keep your employees on track, ensure you’re well-stocked, and inform everyone of any issues. If you’re out of the ingredients for a specific dish, every server and staff member in the kitchen needs to know.

Regarding the schedule, you must know your restaurant to plan each week. Think about when you’re busy and when you only see a few customers. Indeed, you need to ensure that you have enough people in the kitchen and on the floor at all times. Similarly, if you’re scheduling too many employees during quiet hours, you’ll lose more money than you make.

Additionally, sometimes restaurant management requires you to fill many shoes. Imagine you’re working during an unexpectedly busy shift. You may not have any servers available to come in, and those who are present are overwhelmed. A good manager will step in and assist them with the wave.

a busy restaurant manager

2. Good Communicator

As a restaurant manager, you’ll need to communicate with staff and customers effectively. If you’re unclear about a task, you may find that your employees won’t be effective. This miscommunication can lead to unattended or angry patrons and lost income in the restaurant industry.

In this role, you must stay on top of what’s happening with your business and make sure your staff stays informed. Menu changes, unstocked ingredients, and new policies can confuse and frustrate employees.

Additionally, as a manager, you’ll likely communicate with many of your patrons. Your duties include covering tables, handling difficult customers, and ensuring your restaurant runs smoothly. You’ll need to get feedback to know how everything is going. Thus, you need to know how to express yourself and ask for and respond to criticism.

Consider utilizing online resources or even taking a course to improve your marketing skills. You may also want to invest in writing abilities, especially if you’re running your own social media pages.

3. Prioritizes Employee Retention

For a few reasons, employee turnover is notoriously high in the restaurant industry. Majorly, it’s a field where people go for “in-between jobs.” For example, many employees are high school or college students. They’re only available for the summer or specific shifts. Some choose to work in a restaurant as a secondary source of income. It’s also a great first job for young people. However, not many want to stay in the industry permanently.

Notably, restaurant work isn’t a permanent or feasible option for many individuals. Businesses are legally allowed to pay their servers well below minimum wage. These employees rely on tips and the generosity of patrons, which isn’t always present. As a result, when servers find an opportunity for stable pay, many take it.

So, how can managers prioritize employee retention? It’s not a perfect science, considering the population that makes up the workforce. Student employees are going to go back to school. However, boosting hourly pay, maintaining a good working environment, and listening to your staff improve retention. Make sure you perform exit interviews when employees leave. Ask why they’re leaving and if there were any issues during their employment. Then, use that feedback to improve your business and management.

4. Financially Literate

A successful restaurant manager needs to know how to maintain a budget. You’ll need to balance staff salaries, maintenance, and kitchen supplies. Indeed, it can be tricky if you’re not financially literate. In this field, if you don’t have enough servers, you’ll lose money due to customers expecting slow or subpar service. On the other hand, have too many servers on the floor at once, and you’ll hemorrhage funds rather quickly. You also must pay a competitive wage to keep employees on the payroll.

Notably, financial literacy can be difficult to figure out on your own. We recommend taking a course or looking for resources online or at your local library. One of the biggest reasons businesses fail is due to financial illiteracy.

a well maintained restaurant

5. Able to Work Under Pressure

Restaurants aren’t always an easy workplace. Difficult customers and rushes can be chaotic. There will be shifts that have you constantly on your feet. As a manager, you must keep your head under pressure. Your staff relies on you to know what to do. Indeed, if you’re panicking, so will they. You can prepare for these days by creating plans for busy shifts, preparing your staff, and by improving your critical thinking skills.

Additionally, you’ll handle inevitable conflicts between coworkers. Arguments are unavoidable in every industry. And, most likely, your staff will mainly consist of teenagers and new workers. Thus, you will need to know how to manage these issues calmly and effectively.

Notably, some individuals find it easier to improve this trait than others. You can get better at working under pressure by knowing yourself and what you need to stay calm. For example, does coffee help you stay focused, or are you more anxious after drinking it? Are you taking breaks when you need them? You’re more likely to snap under pressure if you’re not taking care of yourself. Indeed, your restaurant needs you, but not if you’re stressed and burnt out.

6. Stays Up-to-Date on Trends & Tech

An effective restaurant manager knows what’s going on in the industry. You may need to watch marketing trends, consumer interests, and the general financial state of your area. This research will allow you to make the best choices for your business. Are there any new foods or drinks that people are interested in trying? Is it time to update your theme? You will probably need to update the décor and look of your restaurant at some point. Otherwise, your customers may feel that it’s outdated and unappealing.

Additionally, you should keep an eye on advancements in technology. Indeed, restaurant management technology keeps your customers and staff happy. It streamlines transactions, scheduling, pay, and more.

7. Mediation Skills

As we mentioned earlier, part of your job as a restaurant manager is dealing with difficult customers and staff. These conflicts are almost inevitable in the industry. Notably, your customer service skills should include mediation.

Mediation is the practice of intervening in a dispute to find a solution. Indeed, siding with one employee over the other will leave you with one angry worker. People who do not feel they are listened to by their boss will not stay at the company long. On the other hand, customers who feel they are disrespected will not return to your restaurant. You should identify possible solutions to disputes ahead of time and know how to respond to arguments.

Notably, these skills build over time. If you have customer service experience, you’ve likely engaged in some form of mediation before. However, you should ask if your business offers higher level training or consider taking a course to improve these skills.

8. Marketing Skills

Additionally, you need to know how to market your restaurant to succeed. You can stay on top of trends and change up your business all you want, but if no one knows about it, you won’t get any new guests. Ensure that you or someone on your team knows how to market. Indeed, you should update your social media pages regularly, ensure your signs are visible to traffic, and invest in advertising.

If you’re finding your marketing attempts aren’t profitable, you should turn to the experts. Either hire new employees, ask your current staff if they’d like to run your social media, or take classes to improve.

Entrepreneurship programs, marketing classes, and additional resources can lead you on the right path to successful marketing. Also, always ask your current employees for feedback. They know your business, your customers, and the area. They’ll be a great resource and may have hidden creative talents.

restaurant manager

Final Thoughts

Lakewood University offers an undergraduate certificate in Restaurant Business Management. This credential introduces students to the key language and concepts of the industry, focusing on management. The program lasts sixteen weeks and includes four courses. Notably, these courses can transfer seamlessly into an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Over the semester, students learn communication, human resources, and operations management skills. They also discover what goes into running a business. Additionally, the program includes food safety training and preparation for the national exam.

At the end of the program, students are prepared to begin their path as a restaurant manager. Interested in learning more? Don’t hesitate – contact our admissions department today!