So, you want to be a restaurant manager?
While you’re surrounded by food and people all day, the job isn’t as glamorous as it may seem – especially to those of you without restaurant experience. And even those with industry experience who ascend to the restaurant manager position are destined to be shocked by their new responsibilities, particularly the responsibilities not found in the job description.
Most restaurant manager job descriptions cover what you’d expect. Indeed’s sample description hits all the high notes – training and supervising staff, maintaining safe working conditions, and monitoring inventory levels, to name a few.¹ But restaurant manager responsibilities span far beyond inventory and training to areas like technological proficiency and executing massive, innovative strategies to better the business.
So before you fill out that application or eagerly accept the offer, consider what you’ll be tasked with in your new role so you can set your expectations and prepare yourself for success as a restaurant manager.
The 7 Main Restaurant Manager Responsibilities
By managing your restaurant staff well, you’re managing your restaurant well.
This part of the job is arguably the most multi-faceted. You’re responsible for tactical duties like training new hires, conducting performance reviews, disciplining rule breakers and poor performers, and handling compensation changes in addition to more interpersonal tasks like mentorship and ensuring professional growth.
Accounting & Finances
Many owners – who take the initiative to fund and start the restaurant – expects you to keep the business open and profitable. This means you’ll need to produce, manage, and analyze the budget and multiple financial reports. Metrics and sheets you’ll need to track include cost of goods sold, labor costs, new operating income, profit, and (see below) inventory costs.
Managers need to ensure the kitchen is stocked with the right amount of food so that nothing is wasted and as few items need to be 86’ed as possible.
Additionally, managers need to consistently check on inventory variance – the difference between the actual cost of ingredients used and the recorded cost of ingredients used – to control food and alcohol costs and ensure as little inventory as possible is wasted, stolen, or over-portioned.
One other way you may be tasked with managing inventory is with menu planning. Some restaurant managers work directly with the chef to plan for menu item selection or daily specials. If this applies to you, you’ll want to make sure that menu items are enticing, well-portioned, and profitable.
Scheduling & Payroll
Ask any restaurant manager what his or her biggest point of frustration on the job is. Chances are, it’s balancing the scheduling requests of dozens of employees each week (unless the restaurant utilizes and easy-to-use restaurant scheduling software). On top of that, there’s payroll, which take can take hours each week (especially when you’re not using restaurant payroll software) due to the regulations, taxes, proper forms, and many other moving pieces surrounding staff pay.
The importance of these two cannot be overstated – you need staff to show up every day, and staff won’t show up unless they’re paid on time. This makes knowing how to schedule staff and how to do payroll essential to a smoothly running restaurant.
Marketing & Advertising
It’s your job to ensure the restaurant’s seats are filled, especially if you’re not part of a massive franchise that benefits from corporate advertising. Smaller restaurants also have to worry about keeping the budget intact, which means posting on social media, optimizing visibility on search engines like Google through Google My Business, and exploring affordable marketing opportunities in your area through event sponsorships or local ads.²
When customer complaints escalate past a server or a cook, the buck stops with you to make sure the situation is resolved and the guests are satisfied. You should expect to spend a good part of your week; approving comps, responding to reviews, and checking in with guests during their meals to see if everything is going well.
This is the catch-all of all restaurant manager responsibilities. “Operations” simply acts as a bucket that simply signifies “keeping the restaurant running.” These acts include – but are not limited to – maintaining the ambiance in the front of house, ensuring health and safety standards are observed, setting and meeting business targets, and interacting with staff, partners, and guests to maintain positive relationships.
9 Restaurant Manager Responsibilities You Won't Find in the Job Description
So, how about those other tasks that weren’t highlighted in the job description? Whether they were outlined in the posting or not, be prepared to address each of these areas in any restaurant management job – and to become excellent at that if you want to succeed in your job.
You’ve heard that you need to manage a team well, but one of the specific reasons why is because a happy, productive, and fulfilled staff is less likely to turn over.
Turnover exceeds 100% in some restaurants, and while that’s partly due to the seasonal availability of a young-leaning workforce, a number that large is certainly preventable. Proactively noting when your high-performers are feeling stressed or discouraged and finding opportunities to boost staff morale with recognition and praise can help keep your staff around longer.
In an industry where losing an employee costs nearly $6,000, it’s on you to lower that cost by lowering your employee turnover rate.
Beyond your normal staff management efforts like employee engagement and scheduling, you’ll likely be faced with taking on some more tactical duties otherwise done by HR in larger restaurants (or the owner in smaller ones). For example, you might have to take a larger role in candidate sourcing, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and even the firing process than you might expect.
Tasks like letting people go and actively sourcing candidates might not be on the top of your personal to-do list, but doing them does help you build and maintain a strong team since you’re taking an active part in making sure the right people work for you. If you’re interviewing for a restaurant management role – especially at a smaller restaurant – be sure to clarify what you’ll be asked to do when it comes to this.
Restaurant management requires being ever-present and extremely attentive. This is extremely true when it comes to noticing what needs to be cleaned and fixed and knowing how to remedy the situation.
Notice a spill that your staff is too in the weeds to address? Grab a mop. Your line cook tells you the oven’s not working? Grab the manual and get on the phone with the manufacturing company.
Handling these fixes – regardless of whether they’re visible or invisible to the customer – and mitigating their impact on a guest’s experience might require doing the work that no one else wants to do, but hey, that’s managing a restaurant!
Filling in the Blanks
The threat of a no-call, no-show is a recurring nightmare for restaurant managers – largely because they know that if they can’t secure a replacement for the shift, it’s time to step up. This means bussing, bringing guests to their tables, taking out the trash, and restocking the kitchen working stations are your job today, even if you thought you’d never be forced to do that again when you took this role.
You might even have to step up and handle these situations when your whole staff shows up but it’s busier than expected. Remember, being a restaurant manager means always staying on your toes and feeling prepared to jump in at a moment’s notice to keep the restaurant running.
Technology is cementing its space in the restaurant industry. While the thought of learning different softwares might be daunting at first, it’s important to note that these technologies exist to make your job easier. However, you do need to put the time and effort into familiarizing yourself with the software suite your restaurant utilizes, in addition to keeping an eye out for when a replacement or upgrade may be needed and doing your research for the best replacement.
Some of these restaurant softwares and technologies you might use on the job include:
- POS Hardware and Software
- Inventory Management Software
- Employee Scheduling Software
- Accounting Software
- Payroll Software
- Credit Card Processing and Payment Technology
- Reservation Software
- Online Ordering Software
- Restaurant Analytics Software
- Mobile Payment Hardware
- Gift Card Management Software
- Loyalty Program Software
I know – that’s a lot of software and tech to keep track of. But it’s up to you to ensure you’re using the best kind for each of these areas, become fluent in how to use them, and know how to train your staff if it’s a technology that they’ll be using.
It’s easy to think you’ve “made it” when you get the restaurant manager job, but in actuality, the real work has just begun.
One of the best ways to keep your mind and your performance sharp is to continuously educate yourself in the subject of restaurant management. This involves reading restaurant management blogs and news publications, taking relevant classes and courses, and attending industry events and trade shows. Accepting the idea that you should never stop learning simply means you’ve got nowhere to go but up – and so does the restaurant you manage.
You’ll be responsible for making your team a positive, productive hospitality machine. This goes far beyond training during the first week. You’ll need to serve as a leader and a mentor to your team, often giving up your space in the spotlight so other employees can have theirs.
As a restaurant manager, it’s on you to recognize all youur employees. More specifically, it means identifying the employees who are showing initiative but need a bit of help and guidance. This is where your restaurant’s potential exists – as helping your well-intentioned team members who just aren’t performing to standard will result in an overall efficiency boost for your team.
However, chances are you’ll be so busy that – unfortunately – you won’t be able to bond or connect with all of your employees as much as you’d like. This calls on you to always lead by example and foster a sense of team camaraderie that carries over even when you’re not present.
You might also see a situation where poor performance correlates to an employee’s personal life outside of the restaurant. Within professional boundaries, showing support and being there for those employees can establish your role as a mentor who cares just as much about the people who work in the restaurant as you do for the restaurant itself.
This is one of the most challenging restaurant manager responsibilities simply because it’s rather ambiguous. Essentially, being innovative means recognizing an issue in your restaurant – be it efficiency, inventory control, or the online ordering process – and creating a new process or solution for your restaurant to do it better.
For example, you may notice that because your servers need to stop and check on other tables before sending an order to the kitchen, the amount of times guests have to wait for their meals is longer than it could be. So, you do some research and find out that equipping your waitstaff with handheld order tablets could not only send orders faster, it could also increase table turn time, meaning your restaurant is more efficient for guests and more profitable as a business.
Knowing how to solve every issue in your restaurant through innovation isn’t simple, but getting good at your other restaurant manager responsibilities – like being attentive in your restaurant and reading up on industry news – can help you identify those opportunities more immediately and give you the insight to find a solution.
Managing Your Own Time
We’ll be honest with you – it’s highly unlikely your week will be confined to 40 hours. Be prepared for how this role can spill over into your personal time – especially when you’re just getting used to your new restaurant manager responsibilities.
Putting out fires always takes more time than you think, but the core tasks of your job must still be done. So before you take the plunge and decide to become a restaurant manager, invest the time into becoming a master of time management.
If you need to become better at time management, try a few of these solutions:
- Use To-Do Lists or Apps. Simply writing your ideas down can clear your thoughts and provide you with a clear direction on how to prioritize. If you want your list to go with you wherever you go, try installing Evernote or Todoist right on your phone or computer.
- Start Delegating. Delegate the low-effort tasks that you just don’t have the time for, to an employee who does. You can also use this as a way to spot potential in the staff members who are capable of following instruction and might make good candidates for a promotion.
- Delegate Time Blocks. Sometimes you just need to hunker down for 30 minutes and put those final touches on next week’s schedule without distraction. Identify the time periods in your day that aren’t too busy in the restaurant and would allow you to go heads-down for a bit of uninterrupted working time. Maximizing your efficiency in these time periods means you’ll be able to handle more of whatever comes up without warning during the dinner rush.
Mastering Your Restaurant Manager Responsibilities
In this role, you’ll be handling tasks that were in your restaurant manager job description, tasks that were outlined in this blog, or tasks that you never expected to come onto your plate. The job requires interpersonal, mathematical, tactical, and technological skills to succeed, but if you’re eager to make the most of this opportunity, brush up on what we outlined in this post and you’ll be successful restaurant manager in no time.
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