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Hiring the Right Restaurant Manager

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Mar 03, 2020
Image Credit: CherriesJD / Getty Images
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These are the most important steps in finding the right manager.

  • Hiring a great restaurant manager is a difficult feat, and requires diligence and careful examination of a candidate's skills and attention to detail.
  • Hospitality is an industry that is notoriously difficult to predict. Restaurant owners need to take the time to properly vet potential managers for their customer service abilities, their interpersonal management skills and their ability to handle pressure.
  • When hiring a restaurant manager, you can elect to hire from within, post a job ad online or spread the word to other similar establishments that you're hiring.

Hiring the right restaurant manager is crucial to the success of your establishment. Your manager has to be detail- and schedule-oriented, yet flexible enough to handle any issues that come up.

Your manager should be able to work well with people, since they work hands-on with your staff and coordinate with vendors. They should also be able to work long or odd hours, which is a common demand of the restaurant industry. The following tips are good starting points for your search for a restaurant manager.

Define the role When you start looking for a manager, you need to define your expectations. Make a list of everything you are looking for in your restaurant manager and how these traits impact your business.

Make sure to note traits that are not as obviously desirable in a manager. For example, "good with people" is arguably one of the most important traits for a restaurant manager. However, other important traits like "able to make tough decisions" and "flexible under pressure" are often overlooked.

It is very important to create this list before you post a job description or begin your candidate search so that you can identify the perfect candidate.

1. Advertise the job.

Take your list of ideal traits and use it as your guide for creating the job description. Make sure to clearly lay out what is expected of your restaurant manager. You cannot find the perfect candidate if you do not make it clear what you are looking for in a manager. 

2. Conduct interviews.

Before you hold any interviews, create a clear set of questions that involve real-life and hypothetical situations. You should also create a rubric where you can make notes about each candidate's answer and give them a score.

Ask them about a difficult situation from their time at a previous restaurant and how they handled it. Then create a possible scenario and ask what steps they would take in that situation. These questions will help you determine how a potential manager would handle him or herself in your establishment. Another good idea is to take candidates on a tour of your building and get feedback. This is a good reflection of how they express themselves.

3. Hire your manager!

Once the interviews are complete, it is time to make your final decision. If you prepared ahead of time by creating a clear list of traits and used a rubric during the interviews, it should be much easier to find the best manager to fill the role. You already know that the candidates who made it this far in the process have what you are looking for, and now you just have to check references and give someone the good news!

Your restaurant manager is a central piece of your business. Do not cut corners when you start your search. If you go through the process of defining the role and carefully grading candidates, you will find the best person to work at your business.

What skills and experience should a restaurant manager have? 

It's vital to hire a restaurant manager who has great customer service skills and a keen eye for detail. Hospitality is a people business and you'll want to find someone who is not only good with customers but is also good at managing employees. 

A restaurant manager is like the coach of a sports team. Anyone can memorize a few basic plays and bark orders, but that won't lead to much success. A great coach will take the time to understand each player's strengths and weaknesses and forge a strategy accordingly. 

A great restaurant manager should be similar. Employees need to respect them, not fear them. The best candidates will be accommodating, knowledgeable and possess strong leadership skills. This means interpersonal skills as well as organizational abilities and strategic intelligence. 

Candidates should have a minimum of two years' experience in successfully managing another restaurant or have equivalent expertise. Hospitality is an industry that is tough to replicate, because there are so many moving pieces. There are few industries as fast-paced and chaotic and experience is the only true indicator that a candidate can handle the job. 

This doesn't mean you can't hire someone who has had management experience in another field. But If they do not have any previous restaurant or hospitality experience in some form, it may be wise to give them a trial period to get used to the environment or simply go with another candidate. 

Where can you find restaurant managers?

If you're looking to hire a new manager at your restaurant there are a few places to look. The best place to start is probably in house. 

Maybe you have a star waiter who is itching for something more stable. It might be wise to give them an interview and see if they'd be able to handle the pressure. Hospitality is a business where schooling and accreditations are not as important as understanding the internal culture. 

Someone who has experience at your specific restaurant – even in a different capacity – may be a stronger candidate than an outside hire who has more management experience. Every restaurant is different and developing good relationships with staff is one of the most important aspects of good management. 

If you can find someone who possesses all the attributes described above that have already built strong relationships and proven themselves to be worthy of a promotion, half the battle has already been fought. Just make sure they're truly the best person for the job and that promoting them won't cause jealousy from other staff members. 

If none of your current staff fit the bill, it's not a bad thing to go with an outside hire. Word of mouth is always a great way to find qualified applicants in your local area. You may also want to post an ad on an online job board or in the local paper. You may be forced to wade through dozens of applications or sit through a series of fruitless interviews. But if you are patient, eventually you'll find someone who can do the job. 

How much does a restaurant manager make? 

According to PayScale, the average restaurant manager earns between $40,000 and $50,000 dollars per year. However, this statistic can change depending on the market you're in. 

For instance, popular job board Indeed has the average salary for a restaurant manager in New York City at around $66,000 per year, with positions at top restaurants ranging anywhere from $75,000 to $200,000. 

Management positions at successful restaurants often come with full benefits and paid time off, but this all depends on the company and the establishment offering the job.

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