The National Restaurant Association and restaurant media outlets are reporting that labor shortages are the top challenge for the U.S food service industry and say that restaurant manager positions are among the toughest jobs to fill.
When job openings outnumber candidates, a high salary alone is not enough to hire and retain employees. With more choices available, people are looking for a dream team, supportive management, and an outstanding working experience.
Given this situation, many restaurants are struggling to fill empty positions. Though, some are able to successfully attract the best talent.
So what’s their secret? Building an awesome team depends a lot on who’s in charge of the restaurant’s operations.
To get a restaurant off to a good start, an owner needs to figure out how to hire an excellent restaurant manager. Let’s define the traits and skills of the person you should be looking for.
Food Industry Expertise
Both restaurant owners and employees want to have a restaurant manager who is mature enough to help them avoid the countless pitfalls associated with working in the industry. You need someone who is aware of the codes and standards of the food service industry, can ensure compliance with sanitation and safety regulations, and cope with inspections from state regulators. A legal issue or a violation of sanitary standards could harm not only the restaurant’s reputation but your team’s morale as well. That’s why the expertise of a restaurant manager is a vital asset. If hiring someone with 10 years of hands-on experience seems impossible, you should try looking for candidates with multi-unit talent that have quit big chains, because people with experience in the corporate food industry show fast professional growth. Alternatively, you can hunt for a mature employee occupying a mid-level position or a low-level management position in a competitor’s restaurant. They often have skills and ambitions but can’t get promoted at their current workplace. It’s in your best interest to hire a restaurant manager that already knows reliable suppliers in your area, can competently set control points to maintain high standards, and who is on good terms with local authorities. This is a secure way to reduce the number of issues solved by trial and error and minimize your business risks.
A future-focused restaurant manager should pay close attention to technology as one of the biggest trends that are reshaping the restaurant industry. For example, ordering systems, employee scheduling tools, and restaurant POS software have already become an essential part of restaurant operations and continue to add more and more value as new solutions, features, and integrations appear. Look for a restaurant manager that keeps track of emerging technologies. Such leaders quickly find ways to facilitate different aspects of restaurant operations and ease work for their employees. Their strength is in staying open to change, knowing what’s on the market and being able to select an optimal restaurant tech stack to cover all the needs of the restaurant without overinvestment. Consider that technology-forward managers create a working environment that makes the team feel they’re on the leading edge and won't fall behind. This is especially important for the younger generation of restaurant workers.
A business's bottom line is the restaurant manager’s department. Optimizing operations and finding ways to reduce costs in all facets of the business should always be on your manager's mind. Whether it’s staffing, sourcing or marketing, a business-minded restaurant manager controls the numbers, analyses stats and delivers meaningful reports, and makes informed decisions on increasing profit margins. For example, when it comes to menu engineering, your head chef’s primary concern is the taste and look of the food. Being an artist, the chef would appreciate working with a manager who can shoulder menu costing and make reasonable suggestions on ways to raise profitability. The restaurant manager can take an extra step to categorize every menu item according to its profit and popularity levels. This may help a designer create a menu that entices customers to choose the most profitable food options. When employees feel sure that their manager keeps a close eye on the restaurant’s cash flow, they believe the business will stand the test of time and their job is secure.
The personality of the restaurant manager influences a lot the future of the team’s culture, working atmosphere and tone of communication between staff members. This person will recruit new employees, educate the newcomers, and lead the team by example. Pay attention to whether the manager is an approachable leader. To create and maintain a healthy atmosphere, they should know how to give feedback, infuse employees with enthusiasm and loyalty, and make them feel appreciated. Every member of the team should feel they can address their boss with questions, concerns, and suggestions. So, before you make the final decision to hire a manager, ask yourself if the candidate is able to create a supportive and inspiring working environment.
Good interpersonal skills would help your restaurant manager communicate with guests either for problem-solving or just adding a personal touch. If the restaurant manager is naturally friendly and interactive, it won’t be difficult for them to give your patrons personal attention, greet and thank them for coming, and engage in small talk. Creating a memorable and welcoming guest experience goes along with a restaurant manager’s role, they should know how to make all your guests feel great. People will eagerly become your regular patrons because of the cheerful ambiance. A person that has all the above proficiencies, skills, and talents is able to set up a smooth and profitable operation, remarkable service, and make employees feel happy at work. Such people know the difference between ‘good’ and ‘great’. They may know the right recipe for your restaurant’s secret sauce and create a dining experience competitors will fail to replicate.