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Deli Management: Responsibilities and Essential Skills of a Great Deli Manager

Marcel DeerAuthor

Delis are hip. They double as quick-service restaurants and grocery stores rolled into one, and that makes them convenient and attractive to consumers on the go. Though they often have an old-timey feel, the experience of going to a deli is still popular. In fact, 78% of millennials say they prefer to spend their money on such experiences, so delis are as relevant today as ever.

To compete in the deli business, you need a mix of great products, excellent service, and an inviting atmosphere. However, one key ingredient is a fantastic deli manager. You need to find someone who has a wide range of skills and lots of experience so they can fill all the roles and responsibilities this challenging job requires. And with the right manager at the helm, your deli business can really succeed. So, let’s look at the skills and responsibilities of a great deli manager and some tips on how they can contribute to a successful business.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • The responsibilities of a deli manager

  • Skills and responsibilities essential for managing a deli

  • Great tips for deli management success

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The Roles and Responsibilities of a Deli Manager

Deli managers have to take on a lot. They need to apply their skills and expertise to a range of roles and responsibilities to keep the deli running smoothly, customers happy, and staff working efficiently. Deli managers usually have to play a role in these different areas.

Hiring and staff management

Delis are usually small businesses without dedicated HR departments. For that reason, the deli manager is normally the one in charge of managing all the staff. They organize scheduling, advertise for, recruit, and train new staff, and, of course, dismiss staff if needed. It’s up to the deli manager to ensure that staff is working correctly and providing an appropriate level of customer service.

Supplier coordination and inventory management 

While delis usually make a lot of their own food items, they still need a host of supplies and ingredients to do it. While the manager may delegate others to take stock, they’re ultimately responsible for checking on inventory and ordering supplies as needed. This also means they need to coordinate with suppliers and arrange deliveries on a consistent basis to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

Financial management 

The deli counter may have a dedicated cashier, or all front-of-house staff may be trained on the POS system. However, it’s the manager’s job to ensure that customer payments are correctly calculated and collected. But their role in the business’s finances also goes a lot deeper. They’re responsible for balancing the books, monitoring expenditures, and paying all bills for things like utilities, rent, and, of course, supplier invoices. It’s the manager who will be the first to know how the business is performing monetarily and ensure a profit is being made.

Marketing 

The average small deli isn’t going to have the luxury of an in-house sales and marketing team at their disposal, and will probably depend on the brewery manager to oversee marketing operations. This can include setting budgets and selecting the tone and style for advertising. A deli manager may also work closely with a marketing agency to create ads and promotions to attract customers and pull in large catering orders. This is one reason why a deli manager needs to have such diverse skills in order to help the business generate success.

Customer service 

While incredible food is essential to the success of any deli, none will survive without great customer service. Who wants to patronize an establishment where the food is good but the service is the pits?

Customers who visit a deli want things to happen fast in this quick service environment. If they eat in, they want to be able to do so quickly and comfortably. If they’re buying products to take away, they want to be served quickly and accurately. It’s ultimately the manager’s job to ensure all staff are providing what customers expect. If any issues arise, it’s also the deli manager’s job to solve them to appease the customer.  

Regulatory, safety, and legal compliance 

Food quality and cleanliness are of the utmost importance to deli customers. Whose job is it to maintain the high standards of quality and hygiene needed? The managers, of course! They need to train staff in hygiene practices and standards to ensure compliance with all local regulations for food handling. They also need to ensure that the premises are safe, clean, and accessible for both customers and staff in the front- and back-of-house.

Essential skills of a deli manager 

Working as a deli manager isn’t for everyone. This is a demanding job that requires a host of skills in many different areas. However, a successful manager will be able to bring their skills and experience to face the challenge and provide the staff team with excellent guidance in this competitive industry.

Leadership 

One skill that’s absolutely impossible to do without as a deli manager is great leadership. After all, the manager is leading the whole staff team and needs to give direction, guidance, training, and encouragement to staff constantly. They need to lead by example, demonstrating a high level of motivation and dedication to the job in order to inspire others. They also need to know how to work with a diverse staff team and be inclusive of everyone on their team for the best results possible.

Communication 

It’s hard to manage anything without excellent communication skills, and a deli is no different. Whether communicating with staff, customers, or suppliers, a successful deli manager will be able to express themselves clearly and effectively. They also need to be able to listen and interpret others well to provide the highest level of service.

Organization 

Can you manage a deli without being highly organized? It will likely be very difficult. There’s a whole host of fresh and packaged food products to keep in stock, as well as food and drink service to manage. There are suppliers to contact, bills to pay, staff to schedule, and a wide array of daily tasks to keep on top of. Only a very organized person would be able to keep all of these balls in the air.

Problem-solving 

Delis can have problems with supplies, food production, quality, customer demands, and a whole lot more. It always falls to the deli manager to be responsible for solving these issues and keeping things on track. It’s an especially useful skill for a manager to be calm and cool under pressure so that they’re able to limit negative situations and create solutions effectively. It’s also crucial that they always put the customer’s needs first and find resolutions that keep their experiences positive. 

Understanding of the industry

Most deli managers will have years of experience working in a deli. That experience will bring them an understanding of how this business works and what customers want and expect from them. They’ll also understand the complex relationships between the deli and their suppliers and be able to maintain them masterfully. To help the deli fit into the modern world, they’ll also be able to recognize and explore technologies and other new opportunities to increase the deli’s business.

Tricks to being a successful deli manager 

Build an outstanding company culture

If you want your deli to succeed, it’s important to build and maintain a great company culture. This can help you stand out from the competition and both attract and retain customers. Internally, the company culture can enhance the experience of your workers and help them feel included and important. When staff feel this way, they’re inspired to contribute more and stay longer-term with the job.

Create a great guest experience

Deli customers want great food and quick, attentive, and friendly service. They also want an attractive atmosphere in which to do their shopping and dining. The deli manager should consider building a great customer experience as a priority and take great pains to design everything with the customer in mind. This includes taking in feedback from customers and putting their needs and desires first.

Stay up to date with staff training and cross-training

While new staff need initial training, everyone on the team can do with a refresher now and again. New equipment, policies, and procedures may also necessitate re-training now and again. You can also cross-train staff to teach them how to do other jobs in the deli. This is a great way to build team cohesion, as workers can learn what their colleagues’ roles and challenges are. 

Never stop learning 

A deli manager’s job is never done, and neither is their ability to grow and improve. Managers can join courses, workshops, and conferences to stay competitive. They can also learn about new technologies that can contribute to improved efficiency and quality.

Great Deli Managers

Successful deli managers have lots of diverse skills they can apply to the roles and responsibilities the job requires. With their skills and experience, they can manage their staff effectively and provide their customers with an ideal deli experience.

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