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Catering Business Management: Responsibilities and Essential Skills of a Great Catering Business Manager

Marcel DeerAuthor

The US alone has over 90,000 catering businesses, employing 275,000 people and producing an annual revenue of $12.2 billion

If you’re in the catering industry and looking for a way to make your company stand out from the competition, an excellent catering business manager might just be the secret weapon you need. The ideal manager will be able to apply their various skills to the myriad of challenges and responsibilities that this job presents. Let’s take a closer look at these, plus some top tips for catering business success.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The roles and responsibilities of a catering business manager

  • Essential skills needed for this job

  • Hot tips for catering company success

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The Roles and Responsibilities of a Catering Business Manager 

Catering business managers must take on roles and responsibilities that can vary widely depending on the specific types of events their company works with, the quality and variety of their service, and the size of the company. Here are many of the roles and responsibilities they normally take on.

Hiring and staff management

Unless they’re working for a massive catering company, most managers won’t have the luxury of a dedicated HR department to handle recruitment, hiring, and training of staff. Instead, these responsibilities typically fall to the manager, who is also tasked with monitoring and managing staff on a day-to-day basis.

Inventory management and supplier coordination 

Catering companies run on superior organization, and it’s essential that all supplies and materials are fully stocked at all times. This responsibility ultimately falls to the manager, though they might delegate some of the associated tasks to their staff, like taking inventory. They also need to keep in contact with the business’s suppliers to ensure that orders are maintained and deliveries are coordinated properly. 

Financial management 

Financial management is the responsibility of the catering business manager, who has to guarantee that billing is done correctly and payments are collected promptly. They might also work with the business’s accountant and monitor financial performance. They also have to be on top of bill payments to suppliers for rent and utilities, staff wages, and any other expenses that might be incurred. 

Marketing 

Only the largest catering companies have their own marketing departments. For most small businesses, it’s the manager who takes care of the creation and implementation of a marketing plan. They may also work closely with a marketing firm to choose a strategy to get the word out about their business, which can include advertising, promotions, and even special events.

Customer service 

The catering business is even more service-intensive than regular restaurants. Everything has to be incredibly well-coordinated so that food and drink are all prepared to be served on time and efficiently. Catering supports events and has to complement but not distract from them. Making sure the service is properly prepared and professionally provided is the job of the catering business manager. They need to train staff and constantly monitor their performance so that customers are guaranteed consistent and positive experiences.

Regulatory, safety, and legal compliance 

As with all businesses in the food and beverage industry, catering companies need to uphold strict standards to comply with health and safety regulations and requirements. Once again, it’s the manager’s job to ensure compliance with rules and regulations. They need to keep hygiene and cleanliness standards high and also monitor the safety and accessibility of the workplace for their staff. All necessary inspections are coordinated with the manager, who prepares the staff and kitchens beforehand.

Essential Skills of a Catering Business Manager 

With so many roles and responsibilities ascribed to the catering business manager, it’s no surprise that they need to possess a wide variety of skills and traits to be able to deal with them successfully. If you’re interested in the job of a catering business manager or looking to hire the right person for the job, here’s a list of the skills and experience that successful managers should normally have.

Leadership 

Catering company managers who handle large events will have to lead teams for preparation and service, sometimes numbering a hundred or more people. To do this successfully, they need to have traits and skills that people can look up to. These can include integrity, responsibility, dedication, and high levels of motivation. They should be able to provide appropriate guidance for their teams and constantly be on the lookout for ways to improve the team. 

Communication 

Catering business managers should have great communication skills which they can use with all of their contacts. They’ll need to be able to give their staff teams clear directives and also listen carefully to their challenges and concerns. They need to constantly communicate with suppliers to maintain great relations. And it’s usually the manager who coordinates directly with clients or event staff. With their excellent communication skills, they’ll be able to keep their clients happy and ensure their needs are being met.

Organization 

It’s impossible to over-stress the importance of organization in the catering business. Ideally, a catering business manager will have excellent organization and coordination skills that they can apply to every aspect of this challenging and fast-paced job. A successful manager will have to keep on top of their own tasks and schedule as well as the schedules of their staff. They need to coordinate preparation and service for events perfectly so that nothing is missed or left behind. In catering, timing is everything!

Problem-solving 

Things never go exactly to plan, and no matter how organized or prepared a catering business manager is, they’ll always have to deal with problems somewhere along the line. Whether these are issues with suppliers, staff, food and drink, or clients, they’ll need to have great problem-solving skills to keep things running smoothly. This means they’ll be able to keep a level head and come up with appropriate, creative solutions. But they should also always be looking for potential issues to nip in the bud before they develop into full-blown problems.

Understanding of the industry

Celebrity chef and catering business owner Wolfgang Puck says, “I learned more from the one restaurant that didn't work than from all the ones that were successes.”

It’s clear that catering isn’t the same as the regular restaurant business and contains specific challenges that set it apart. The ideal manager will have loads of experience within this industry and connections with suppliers and ancillary service suppliers to give them an advantage over the competition.

Tricks to Being a Successful Catering Business Manager 

Build an outstanding company culture

Company culture for a catering business should include all staff and maintain a positive atmosphere both in-house and when out catering events. Staff should feel recognized, important, and secure in their jobs. When they do, they’ll stay with the job longer and work with more interest and dedication. The manager plays a big role in both developing and maintaining this culture through their example.

Create a great guest experience

The role of a catering company is to service events and transform them from forgettable to outstanding. Just imagine a wedding without food and drink or a birthday party with no cake! To provide the best guest experience, the manager must understand the client’s needs and lead their teams to provide the atmosphere, products, and services that fit their expectations.

Stay up to date with staff training and cross-training

It’s normal to train new staff upon intake, but what about when policies, procedures, products, and equipment change? Re-training your staff is often necessary to keep everyone up to date and working effectively. Cross-training your staff is also a great way to help them learn about other jobs involved in the team effort. It helps them empathize with their teammates and be able to fill in different roles if needed.

Never stop learning 

Because catering is such a competitive industry, managers should never stop learning new technologies and techniques to update their skills. They can take courses, attend conferences, and join workshops to help them stay relevant in this fast-paced industry. There’s always something new to learn that can make a great manager even better.

Great Catering Business Managers

The best catering business managers know their industry in and out and can leverage their years of experience. They possess the skills and knowledge required to succeed and manage both the business and their staff effectively. They’re also able to take on the variety of responsibilities that the job demands. Once you find this ideal manager, you’re well on your way to success in the catering business!

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