How to be a good restaurant manager

Whether you’re a restaurant manager yourself or if you’re finding a restaurant manager and wanting to find out what makes a good specialist before hiring a new one, you’ll find out early on that good restaurant managers are constantly under pressure to keep a lot of plates spinning at the same time. 

You’ll find that being a good restaurant manager requires both the ability to work reactively and proactively. General managers have to be quick on their feet, while at the same time planning ahead of time and communicating with the owner to never lose track of the big picture.

On top of that, restaurant managers have to inspire and motivate their staff. With employee turnover rates as high as 70% in 2016, losing experienced staff is one of the biggest challenges for any food service business.

The duties of a restaurant manager

There's no right or wrong way to run a restaurant. Each restaurant manager approaches it differently, bringing his own personal flair to the job. Few restaurant managers are successful from day one; getting better at your work, any position, taking time, trial and error, and a dedication to professional development. But before we get into the nuances of how to be a good restaurant manager, first things first: what exactly do restaurant managers do? 

  • Manage and oversee the entire restaurant operation

  • Ensure guest satisfaction

  • Plan and develop guest loyalty programs

  • Plan new and update existing menus

  • Plan and develop the overall restaurant marketing strategy

  • Respond efficiently to customer questions and complaints

  • Manage and lead staff

  • Hire and train new employees

  • Manage restaurant supplies

  • Control costs and minimize waste (by using restaurant pos system)

  • Nurture a positive working environment 

Dos and don’ts of a good restaurant manager

Appreciate your restaurant staff

The manager should display a friendly but firm attitude to keep the kitchen under control and staff to think positively to better serve their customers. The secret is a confident yet polite voice and the ability to listen well in the midst of difficult situations. 

Many restaurant managers often spend time on the floor to get to know the customers and to monitor the dining experience, which involves an innovative approach and focuses on customer service. 

Be communicative

Good communication is a must for restaurant managers. Otherwise the restaurant staff will have a hard time getting together as a team, and the morale will be poor. Make sure to follow these steps:

  • Questions, feedback, complaints and ideas are accepted at any time, and workers feel like they have a voice with an open-door policy.

  • Keep frequent, daily meetings of workers. The best strategy is to do so before any move. Be sure that every employee knows what is expected of them during the transition.

  • Always support your staff. Encourage contact by providing input to your team and letting them know when you see them doing something positive. 

Set the team culture in a restaurant

Understanding the culture of your restaurant, knowing the weaknesses of your concept and relying on its strengths, is the first step towards the growth of business and credibility. 

When you managing restaurant, you are responsible for sharing the company's mission statement with your staff. Get in the habit of upholding the core values of your business to create an impervious community. When you’re deciding on what kind of environment you want to create in your restaurant you might want to consider some of these concepts:

  • A fun workplace

  • Flexibility

  • A feeling of community

  • Teamwork

  • Honesty and transparency

Problem solve and multi-task

Restaurant managers have to excel at making spontaneous decisions, as they are a regular part of the job. Be sure that when you have to be a choice, you know it's the right thing to do and stand firmly behind your decision. Yeah, you could slip up now and then, but showing some courage and fast thinking is going to make you a powerhouse of performance.

By knowing when to help out, when to get your foot off the accelerator, and by responding calmly, listening closely, and making positive decisions, you will be a great manager and an outstanding leader. 

Support the professional growth of your staff

Career development is a relatively ignored sector of the restaurant industry. Few restaurants dedicate time and resources to helping workers find specific directions, or even recommend steps they should take to progress to the next step of their hospitality careers.

The restaurant industry has an extremely high annual turnover rate for its workers. That means that many restaurant workers do not see the importance of staying in the long term. Unless we gave them a reason to see a future in the business (by way of career development opportunities) and a target to aspire for (promotion), we could see a change in these awful figures. 

At the same time, do not forget about your own professional growth. Read restaurant management books, take courses and stay up-to-date on all the latest trends in the restaurant industry.

Delegates responsibilities

Because time and resources are required for things to be done in the right way, delegating tasks is the best choice to make sure your restaurant is running smoothly. It could be hard to trust the staff. As the manager of the restaurant, you are responsible for the result. Therefore, prepare your workers to perform tasks to your satisfaction.

When you're tired by the end of the day and feel like you're not doing your job well, you 're probably over-extending yourself. Take an hour to assess your management approach. Look at your employees with fresh eyes, and you may find that you've been underutilizing members of your team.

Salaries for restaurant managers

Food service managers received a mean annual salary of $50,820 in 2016, according to the United States. Department of Labor Statistics. At the low end, food service managers earned a 25th percentile salary of $38,260, which means that 75% earned more than that amount. 

The 75th percentile wage is $66,990, which means that 25 percent will earn more. In 2016, 308,700 people were working as food service managers in the United States. 

Changes are happening every day, particularly in the restaurant industry. Procedures and regulations are continually being updated. As a boss, you need to adapt to these shifts. 

You do not like them or consent to these changes, but it is the duty of the manager to comply with these changes and to help the team members enforce them. When you don't agree with the move, don't just go and talk to other team members.


Samuel Novoa
Content Marketing Specialist, focused on creating relevant content for the food service industry, dedicated to helping all types of business improve customer loyalty and develop their corporate image

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