As a restaurant manager you'll ensure that your restaurant operates efficiently and profitably while maintaining its good reputation and ethos

Restaurant managers have responsibility for the restaurant's business performance, quality standards, and health and safety, as well as staff and customer satisfaction.

Combining strategic planning and day-to-day management activities, the role is both business-like and creative, particularly in terms of marketing and business development.

The type of restaurant you can work for varies significantly, ranging from high-end, fine-dining restaurants to casual dining and quick service outlets. For more information on working for a fast-food outlet, see fast food restaurant manager.

Responsibilities

As a restaurant manager, you'll need to:

  • take responsibility for the business performance of the restaurant
  • analyse and plan restaurant sales levels and profitability
  • organise marketing activities, such as promotional events and discount schemes
  • prepare reports at the end of the shift/week, including staff control, food control and sales
  • create and execute plans for department sales, profit and staff development
  • set budgets or agree them with senior management
  • plan and coordinate menus, working closely with the head chef
  • coordinate the operation of the restaurant ensuring that kitchen, bar and waiting staff are working as a team
  • recruit, train, manage and motivate staff
  • respond to customer queries and complaints
  • meet and greet customers, organise table reservations and offer advice about menu and wine choices
  • maintain high standards of quality control, hygiene, and health and safety
  • check stock levels, order supplies and prepare cash drawers and petty cash
  • comply with licensing laws and other legal requirements.

Salary

  • Salaries for restaurant managers working in fine dining typically range from £22,000 to £40,000.
  • Casual dining restaurant managers can expect to earn in the region of £20,000 to £30,000
  • Fast food restaurant managers typically earn between £18,000 and £30,000.

Salaries depend on your location, employer and the type of establishment you work for. Salaries in boutique restaurants and high-end brasseries, for example, tend to be slightly higher than those in themed or branded restaurants.

Many restaurant managers also receive bonus payments if they reach the targets set by their head office. Other benefits may include a pension, free meals on shift, staff discounts and private medical insurance.

Income data from the Hospitality Guild. Figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are typically in excess of 40 hours per week. Many restaurant managers work late evenings and weekends. Shift work and working on public holidays is also common. Overtime may be essential in some positions and it's important to be willing to work until the job is completed, whatever time that may be.

What to expect

  • The work is generally indoors in a warm, but sometimes cramped, environment. Many restaurant managers divide their time between the front of house area, the office and the kitchen.
  • Your range and level of responsibility depends on the type of restaurant/restaurant chain you work for.
  • Dress codes vary and range from formal wear to a company uniform.
  • Responding to customer complaints, overseeing many activities at once and dealing with a fast pace of work make restaurant managing a varied, but sometimes challenging, role.
  • Managers may be requested to cover at other restaurants, so you'll need mobility, flexibility and willingness to travel. There are some opportunities to work in restaurant management overseas.

Qualifications

There are various routes into restaurant management and the sector is open to candidates with a combination of practical experience, strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of business. You don't necessarily need a degree or HND as it's possible to train on the job and work your way up into the role of restaurant manager.

However, you'll need a degree for entry onto a graduate recruitment scheme. Graduate training schemes are most likely to be available with large restaurants and fast food chains. The following subjects may be helpful:

  • business or management
  • hospitality management
  • hotel and catering.

It's possible to train on the job and earn money at the same time by taking an apprenticeship in hospitality. These are available at different levels and once you have experience you could take the:

  • Level 3 Hospitality supervisor advanced apprenticeship
  • Level 4 Hospitality manager higher apprenticeship

Use the GOV.UK Find an apprenticeship service to find suitable positions.

If you're already working in a restaurant role, you could develop your management skills by taking a relevant hospitality qualification such as:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership
  • Level 4 Diploma in Hospitality Leadership

Joining relevant professional bodies, such as the Institute of Hospitality and the Hospitality Guild, may provide useful training and networking opportunities as well as allowing you to keep up to date with developments in the industry.

Although formal qualifications can help towards gaining a position, employers often view relevant practical work experience, personal attributes and business acumen as more important. Check job adverts to find out what experience and skills employers are looking for.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • excellent interpersonal skills for diplomatically handling staff and customers
  • cooperation and teamworking skills
  • the ability to lead and motivate a team of staff
  • the ability to cope under pressure in a fast-paced environment
  • good business awareness for achieving successful performance
  • strong written and oral communication skills for managing business administration and personnel matters
  • strong planning and organisational skills to run a streamlined operation
  • the ability to work independently and make decisions confidently
  • problem-solving ability, to resolve issues as they arise
  • a flexible and hands-on approach to work.

You'll also need an awareness of hygiene, and health and safety regulations.

Work experience

Getting relevant practical work experience is vital. Some restaurant chains offer formal work experience placements - you can usually find details of these opportunities on their websites.

It can also be quite easy to find part-time, weekend or summer jobs in restaurants, so it may be possible to gain experience as you study or as you apply for positions. Relevant experience includes kitchen, waiting or bar work in restaurants, cafés and hotels, catering or customer service work.

Employers

Opportunities exist in commercial establishments, including:

  • international, national and regional restaurant chains
  • independent restaurants
  • cafés
  • brasseries
  • hotels
  • pubs and clubs
  • cruise ships
  • conference venues.

It's one of the most geographically widespread industries, offering employment on every high street of every city and town and in many parts of the countryside.

Many restaurants are run by proprietors or partnerships. Chain restaurants are extremely common but there are also a large amount of independent establishments.

Some regional and national restaurant chains offer management training opportunities for graduates, although competition for these types of schemes is increasing.

Look for job vacancies at:

Professional development

Training opportunities usually depend on the size of the restaurant and whether it's an independent operation or part of a chain. Larger restaurant chains usually offer structured training schemes, while independent restaurants are more likely to offer on-the-job training on a more informal basis.

Key training areas include:

  • first aid
  • health and hygiene
  • management skills
  • company systems and procedures.

Structured management training schemes for graduates generally last between 12 and 18 months. You'll usually gain practical experience within each function of the restaurant and be assigned a mentor to help you during your initial months.

Key professional bodies also offer a range of training opportunities, including activities that count towards continuing professional development (CPD). They also hold information on external courses and events. Relevant organisations include:

  • Hospitality Guild - lists training courses including college-based qualifications and apprenticeships, regulation and licensing courses, and CPD options.
  • Institute of Hospitality - offers a range of hospitality-related qualifications, professional development workshops, webinars and online courses, as well as networking events. There are varying levels of membership available depending on your skills and experience.
  • UKHospitality - hosts various events across the year and provides publications and resources for members.

Career prospects

The opportunities for career progression depend on the size and type of employer you work for. However, in larger companies you can usually progress from the position of waiter/waitress to that of staff trainer, to a supervisory/assistant manager role, up to restaurant/general manager. You may be able to advance more quickly by taking relevant training and in-house qualifications.

As an experienced restaurant manager, you could move to a larger or more prestigious restaurant to further develop your career. There are also opportunities to progress into area management roles, for which you'll need extensive knowledge of a particular chain and strong practical experience. An area manager may oversee four to six restaurants, depending on the size of the establishments.

You could also move into an operations management or head office role. If you're not seeking area management responsibility, you could move across to other restaurants, possibly within the same chain, or relocate to manage a failing or less successful affiliated restaurant.

With experience, it may also be possible to set up and run your own restaurant.

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