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Restaurant Manager

Catering and restaurant managers keep a food and drink business running smoothly and profitably. They combine their catering, business and people management skills to provide customer satisfaction.

The job can vary widely, from a restaurant manager running a small, independent establishment to a general manager running a large contract catering operation in hospitals and schools.

The work is likely to include:

  • recruiting, training and managing staff
  • planning menus
  • overseeing health and safety
  • stock control and budgeting
  • liaising with clients and suppliers
  • monitoring standards.

Restaurant managers are likely to have to work evenings, weekends and public holidays. Some work shifts. They spend some of their time front of house interacting with customers.

Catering managers are more likely to work regular daytime hours. Part-time work may be possible. They may work on one site or be responsible for a number of sites.

Salaries range from around £15,000 to around £70,000 a year.

Catering/restaurant managers should be:

  • excellent organisers
  • quick at thinking on their feet
  • good team leaders
  • able to stay calm in a crisis
  • tactful when dealing with customers, clients and staff
  • effective communicators
  • interested in food and service delivery.

There is currently a shortage of qualified managers. Catering/restaurant managers are employed in every kind of eating establishment, from restaurants and fast-food outlets to hotels and company restaurants.

Managers either enter at a lower level and work up to supervisory or management jobs or enter with a suitable qualification as a trainee or assistant manager. Relevant qualifications include BTEC National Certificate or Diploma, HNC or HND, foundation degree or degree in subjects such as hospitality management, hotel and catering management, hospitality, leisure and tourism, international hospitality management and culinary management.

Hospitality Apprenticeships are also available. The Diploma in hospitality may also be relevant for this work.

Training is usually on the job. There may be the chance to work towards qualifications such as NVQ Level 3 in hospitality supervision. The Institute of Hospitality offers a range of qualifications at Levels 2 to 4 as well as a programme of continuing professional development (CPD).

Managers may be able to progress into a general or regional management position, taking on responsibility for more than one site or a large single-site operation.

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What is the work like?

Catering and restaurant managers keep a food and drink business running smoothly and profitably. They combine their catering, business and people management skills to provide customer satisfaction.

The job can vary widely, from a restaurant manager running a small, independent establishment to a general manager running a large contract catering operation, providing food services to organisations such as hospitals and schools.

The work is likely to include:

  • recruiting and training staff
  • planning menus
  • organising shift patterns and staff rotas
  • ensuring health and safety and food safety regulations are met at all times
  • managing stock control and ordering supplies
  • overseeing the budget and establishing financial targets
  • liaising with clients and suppliers
  • monitoring the standard of the service and product provided.

Catering managers in smaller establishments are more likely to spend time working front of house and interacting with customers. Those who manage large catering contracts spend time negotiating with customers.

Hours and environment

Restaurant managers are usually in the restaurant during opening hours, which are likely to involve evenings, weekends and public holidays. They may also have to work outside opening hours. Some work shifts or split shifts, which means working in the morning and coming in again for an evening shift.

Restaurant managers usually spend some of their time front of house, in the restaurant itself as well as in an office and possibly the kitchen.

Catering managers, especially in businesses, schools or colleges, are more likely to work regular daytime hours. Part-time work may be possible. They may work on one site or be responsible for a number of sites, visiting each one on a regular basis.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • An assistant catering/restaurant manager may earn between £15,000 and £25,000 a year.
  • With experience, a manager's salary may rise to £35,000 a year, or more.
  • A senior manager may earn £35,000 to £70,000 a year.

Salaries tend to be higher in London and other large cities, as well as in south-east England.

Skills and personal qualities

Catering/restaurant managers should:

  • be excellent organisers
  • be good at thinking quickly and sorting out problems on the spot
  • have team leadership skills
  • have excellent customer service skills
  • be able to stay calm in a crisis
  • be tactful when dealing with customers, clients and staff
  • have effective communication skills
  • be able to manage budgets, people and resources
  • stay up to date with health and safety requirements.

Interests

It is important to:

  • have an interest in food and service delivery
  • enjoy being in a position of responsibility and making decisions.

Getting in

The hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry is one of the country's fastest growing sectors, employing nearly two million people. There are approximately 145,000 catering/restaurant managers working throughout the UK. There is currently a shortage of qualified managers.

Catering/restaurant managers are employed in every kind of eating establishment, from restaurants and fast-food outlets to hotels and company restaurants. The contract catering sector is currently expanding as more organisations are taking on contract caterers. An increasing number of managers are needed for jobs in schools and higher education, the health service, local authorities, the prison service and the armed forces.

Jobs are advertised in trade magazines such as Caterer and Hotelkeeper, and in regional and local newspapers. There are many recruitment websites for catering vacancies, including www.caterer.com, www.caterersearch.com and www.hcareers.co.uk

Entry routes

There are no specific entry requirements, but many catering/restaurant managers have either a relevant qualification or wide experience. There are opportunities for part-time or seasonal work in catering outlets such as pubs, restaurants and fast-food outlets.

The two most usual routes into restaurant or catering management are:

  • by gaining experience in the food or hospitality industry at a lower level and working up to supervisory or management jobs
  • by studying for a higher-level qualification, such as an HNC/HND or degree, and joining a company as a trainee at a supervisory or assistant manager level.

Many of the large hotel groups and restaurant chains have management training schemes. It may be possible to join with A levels, or the equivalent, but some employers ask for further or higher education qualifications, such as a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma, HNC or HND, foundation degree or degree.

A variety of degree, foundation degree and HNC or HND courses is available. Particularly useful subjects include hospitality management, hotel and catering management, hospitality, leisure and tourism, international hospitality management and culinary management.

Entry to a degree is usually with a minimum of two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C), or the equivalent. Entry to an HNC, HND or foundation degree is with at least one A level or the equivalent. Applicants should check with individual colleges and universities as entry requirements vary. Those without the usual qualifications can take an Access course.

Hospitality Apprenticeships are also available. Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and, from August 2009, pay at least £95 per week. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available on the Apprenticeship page on this website, from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk

The Diploma in hospitality may also be relevant for this work.

Training

Catering/restaurant managers are normally trained on the job to gain a broad overview of the business and may be offered the chance to work towards qualifications such as NVQ Level 3 in hospitality supervision.

The Institute of Hospitality offers a range of qualifications:

  • Introductory Business Skills Certificate for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism (Level 2)
  • Intermediate Certificate in Management for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism (Level 3)
  • Advanced Diploma in Management for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism (Level 4)

The Institute also provides continuing professional development (CPD) certificates in areas such as business development, marketing and sales, human resources and product technology.

Management training schemes are likely to include financial management, sales and marketing, human resource management, food safety and customer care.

There are Master of Business Administration (MBA) courses specialising in hospitality management for people with the relevant experience and qualifications.

Getting on

Catering/restaurant managers may be able to progress into a general or regional management role. They may take on responsibility for more than one site or a large single-site operation within a large catering company. There are also opportunities to move into hotel or leisure management.

Restaurant managers may eventually run their own restaurants. Similarly, many experienced catering managers start their own contract catering businesses. Opportunities exist for working abroad, as some of the larger employers also operate overseas.

Further information

Institute of Hospitality, Trinity Court, 34 West Street, Sutton SM1 1SH. 020 8661 4900. Website: www.instituteofhospitality.org

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House, 38 Market Square, Uxbridge UB8 1LH. 01895 817000. Website: www.people1st.co.uk

Springboard UK, 3 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LP. 020 7497 8654. Website: www.springboarduk.net

opportunities to become self-employed or work overseas.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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