In an ideal situation, you’d hear words like “helpful,” “supportive,” “fair,” and “willing to do what it takes to make things work.” Too often, we hear things like “micromanager,” “plays favorites,” and “disappears when we’re in the weeds.”
It’s safe to say that finding someone who can do a job like this with a smile are few and far between. Read on for some restaurant management hiring tips when you're looking for a new manager at your restaurant.
1. Understand what you need in a restaurant manager.
While a manager reports only to the GM on paper, she actually reports to customers and staff as well! The best managers are motivators, trainers, bussers, food runners, bartenders, servers, controllers, customer service representatives, enforcers, and conflict mediators.
It’s important to understand that great restaurant managers provide the links between each branch of your operation. When the chef is fed up with a server mis-firing courses, it’s the manager that tempers his anger and works hard to fix the problem with the server. When the busser calls out sick right before the dinner service starts, the manager rolls up her sleeves to help re-set the tables. When a customer is angry his steak is overcooked, the manager must think of a way to smooth this over, quickly, while maintaining a strict budget. If your employees are the backbone of your business, your managers are the spinal cord.
You’ll need to understand what type of leader you are looking for to maintain your standards of service for FOH staff, and how involved you need your managers to be when things don’t go as planned (and let’s face it – stuff happens!)
2. Understand the hard truth of the job.
Lots of restaurant employees see a position in management as the next step in their career – only some of them know what they are getting themselves into. Similarly, if someone is making a career shift from a different industry, they should approach with caution.
Restaurant management should be prepared to accomplish any task, spend long hours on foot, and use their brain after other employees have turned theirs off, in regards to closing out the shift or inventory control.
Managers should never be “above” any task in the restaurant, either. Rather, they should be ready for everything, even washing dishes and taking out the trash.
A restaurant manager can hop behind the bar for a couple hours, but they are likely not permitted to accept tips for those hours. Yes, managers are typically paid a higher rate, but that immediate payout is a great feeling. After these busy, exhausting nights, the only thing they may not experience with their staff is the feeling of a huge wad of hard-earned cash in their pockets on the way home.
Great managers will be excited to be a part of your restaurant team, and will not abuse their power to say, “Gotta go check a few things out in the back room.” They should have a sense of satisfaction and achievement, knowing that while they don’t get that cash, they led the restaurant team through a busy night!
3. Understand the higher-level requirements of the job.
As with any business, it’s just not productive to cruise through every day without specific goals and a plan to accomplish them.
Maybe your business needs to implement a loyalty program to create repeat guests. Perhaps inventory management is a problem and the restaurant needs to figure out a way to decrease waste and prevent theft. Or you might need to more thoroughly train your staff to upsell certain menu items. Whatever your goal may be, all of your managers must understand they are responsible for hitting them.
You’ll all have to work together on how to accomplish them. Hopefully, your managers will be full of ideas to contribute!
4. Consider promoting within.
Perhaps you already have someone on staff in mind to fill your next manager position, which is a great decision for the right employee! Your employee understand the systems in the restaurant. In fact, you are probably thinking about promoting them because they’ve been able to make improvements. He knows the menu, the regulars love him, and he’s consistently bringing in the highest revenue of the shift. His coworkers respect him, and he even trains new staff. He seems to be committed to your business.
This is a great start, but there is more to a manager than being a stellar server or bartender. Often, it is easier to promote a current employee instead of searching for a new candidate. But there are some other things to consider when thinking about promoting a star server. Maybe he’s trained some staff before, but will he be able to reinforce these standards, every day, for the rest of his career there? And will he do this in a way that drives positive change, or will others feel they are being micro-managed? How effectively can he manage conflicts to benefit the restaurant, rather than his good friend? Will he be able to transition to a point of authority, or will he be too concerned with how his colleagues view him now that he has the power to terminate their employment?
Once you’ve understood what your ideal manager will be like, and what they will do, it’s time to communicate it to your candidates! Be clear, and be direct when restaurant hiring. The more honest you are about what you need, the more likely it is you’ll find a great leader who will stick around for a long time. You’ll need to be picky – lots of people will jump at the chance to be a restaurant manager, but few will have the ability to keep your team motivated, improve performance, and make sure your guests walk out of the restaurant happy and satisfied.