A career as a restaurant manager may appeal to you if you enjoy working in a lively, fast-paced environment

Restaurant managers ensure that restaurants operate efficiently and profitably while maintaining their reputation and ethos. They must coordinate a variety of activities, whatever the size or type of the outlet; and are responsible for the business performance, quality standards and health and safety of the restaurant.

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.

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;
  • coordinate the operation of the restaurant during scheduled shifts;
  • 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.

Salary

  • According to the Hospitality Guild the salaries for restaurant managers working in fine dining are in the region of £22,000 to £40,000, while in casual dining restaurants they range from £20,000 to £30,000 and fast-food restaurants £18,000 to £30,000.

The salary of a restaurant manager may depend greatly on the employer and type of establishment. Salaries in boutique restaurants, for example, tend to be slightly higher than those in themed/branded restaurants.

Many restaurant managers also receive bonus payments if they reach the targets set by their head office.

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

Working hours

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 is 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.
  • The 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 mean it is a varied and possibly stressful role.
  • Managers may be requested to cover at other restaurants. This demands mobility, flexibility and a willingness to travel.

Qualifications

There is no single route into restaurant management. A degree or HND is not necessarily required for entry into a management role, as it is possible to work your way up. The sector is open to candidates with a combination of practical experience, strong interpersonal skills and an understanding of business.

However, a degree or HND is increasingly required for entry to a formal recruitment scheme and in particular the following subjects may be helpful:

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

Although your degree/HND subject can certainly help towards gaining a position, relevant practical work experience in a customer service environment is often viewed as being more important than formal qualifications.

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.

Skills

You will need to have:

  • excellent interpersonal skills for diplomatically handling staff and customers;
  • strong written and oral communication skills for managing business admin and personnel matters;
  • the ability to cope under pressure since restaurant management can be challenging;
  • good business awareness for achieving successful performance;
  • teamworking skills to be able to lead a team and be a part of it;
  • strong planning and organisational skills to run a streamlined operation;
  • the ability to work independently and confidently to make your own decisions;
  • problem-solving ability to resolve issues as they arise.

Work experience

Some restaurant chains offer formal work experience placements and you can usually find details of these on their websites. It can also be quite easy to find part-time or weekend jobs in restaurants, so it may be possible to gain experience while you study or apply for positions.

Apprenticeships are another way of gaining experience in the industry and can often lead to a permanent position. Try searching the GOV.UK find an apprenticeships service for suitable positions in your area and for details on how to apply.

Employers

Opportunities exist in commercial establishments, including hotels, restaurants and cafés, pubs and clubs, cruise ships and conference venues. It is one of the most geographically widespread industries, offering employment in 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.

Many regional and national restaurant chains offer management training opportunities for graduates. 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 is 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.

When starting in a restaurant management job, you will usually gain practical experience within each function of the restaurant and be assigned a mentor to help you during your initial months. Structured management training schemes for graduates usually last between 12 and 18 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 other available external courses and events. Relevant organisations include:

  • British Hospitality Association - hosts various events across the year and provides publications and resources for members;
  • Hospitality Guild - lists details of various training courses including college-based qualifications, regulation and licensing courses and CPD options. It also has details of development programmes, mentoring schemes and competitions that are run through its numerous partners;
  • Institute of Hospitality - offers management qualifications at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. It also runs a series of events each year covering professional development, social events and networking activities and you are able to work towards varying levels of membership with the institute.

Career prospects

Opportunities for career progression will depend on the size and nature of your employer, with company strategy strongly influencing staff structure. However, in larger companies it is usually possible to progress from the position of waiter/waitress to that of staff trainer, to a supervisory/assistant manager role, up to restaurant/general manager.

Undertaking relevant training and attaining in-house qualifications may facilitate your progression more quickly.

It is common for managers of a single restaurant to progress into area management roles, for which extensive knowledge of a particular chain and strong practical experience is often required. An area manager may oversee four to six restaurants, depending on the size of the establishments.

It is also possible to move into an operations management or head office role, depending on the flexibility and range of individual restaurant chains. Restaurant managers not seeking area management responsibility may move across to other restaurants, possibly within the same chain. They may also relocate to manage a failing or less successful affiliated restaurant.