Restaurant and Food Service Managers Career Information
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Significant Points· Although many experienced food and beverage preparation and service
workers are promoted to fill managerial jobs, applicants with a bachelor’s or
associate degree in restaurant and institutional food service management should
have the best job opportunities.
· Most new jobs will arise in eating and drinking places as the number of establishments increases along with the population, personal incomes, and leisure time.
· As more restaurant managers are employed by larger companies to run establishments, job opportunities should be better for salaried managers than for self-employed managers.
Nature of the WorkThe daily responsibilities of many food service managers can often
be as complicated as some of the meals prepared by a fine chef. In addition
to the traditional duties of selecting and pricing menu items, using food and
other supplies efficiently, and achieving quality in food preparation and service,
managers now are responsible for a growing number of administrative and human
resource tasks. For example,
managers must carefully find and evaluate new ways of recruiting employees in
a tight job market. Once hired, managers also must find creative ways to retain
In most restaurants and institutional food service facilities, the manager is assisted in these duties by one or more assistant managers, depending on the size and operating hours of the establishment. In most large establishments, as well as in many smaller ones, the management team consists of a general manager, one or more assistant managers, and an executive chef. The executive chef is responsible for the operation of the kitchen, while the assistant managers oversee service in the dining room and other areas. In smaller restaurants, the executive chef also may be the general manager, and sometimes an owner. In fast-food restaurants and other food service facilities open for long hours.—often 7 days a week—several assistant managers, each of whom supervises a shift of workers, aid the manager.
One of the most important tasks of food service managers is selecting successful menu items. This task varies by establishment because, although many restaurants rarely change their menu, others make frequent alterations. Managers or executive chefs select menu items, taking into account the likely number of customers and the past popularity of dishes. Other issues taken into consideration when planning a menu include unserved food left over from prior meals that should not be wasted, the need for variety, and the seasonal availability of foods. Managers or executive chefs analyze the recipes of the dishes to determine food, labor, and overhead costs, and to assign prices to various dishes. Menus must be developed far enough in advance that supplies can be ordered and received in time.
On a daily basis, managers estimate food consumption, place orders with suppliers, and schedule the delivery of fresh food and beverages. They receive and check the content of deliveries, evaluating the quality of meats, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. To ensure good service, managers meet with sales representatives from restaurant suppliers to place orders replenishing stocks of tableware, linens, paper, cleaning supplies, cooking utensils, and furniture and fixtures. They also arrange for equipment maintenance and repairs, and coordinate a variety of services such as waste removal and pest control.
The quality of food dishes and services in restaurants depends largely on a manager’s ability to interview, hire, and, when necessary, fire employees. This is especially true in tight labor markets, when many managers report difficulty in hiring experienced food and beverage preparation and service workers. Managers may attend career fairs or arrange for newspaper advertising to expand their pool of applicants. Once a new employee is hired, managers explain the establishment’s policies and practices and oversee any necessary training. Managers also schedule the work hours of employees, making sure there are enough workers present to cover peak dining periods. If employees are unable to work, managers may have to fill in for them. Some managers regularly help with cooking, clearing of tables, or other tasks.
Another fundamental responsibility of food service managers is supervising the kitchen and dining room. For example, managers often oversee all food preparation and cooking, examining the quality and portion sizes to ensure that dishes are prepared and garnished correctly and in a timely manner. They also investigate and resolve customers’ complaints about food quality or service. To maintain company and government sanitation standards, they direct the cleaning of the kitchen and dining areas and washing of tableware, kitchen utensils, and equipment. Managers also monitor the actions of their employees and patrons on a continual basis to ensure that health and safety standards and local liquor regulations are obeyed.
In addition to their regular duties, food service managers have a variety of administrative responsibilities. Although much of this work is delegated to a bookkeeper in a larger establishment, managers in most smaller establishments, such as fast-food restaurants, must keep records of the hours and wages of employees, prepare the payroll, and fill out paperwork in compliance with licensing laws and reporting requirements of tax, wage and hour, unemployment compensation, and Social Security laws. Managers also maintain records of supply and equipment purchases and ensure that accounts with suppliers are paid on a regular basis. In addition, managers in full-service restaurants record the number, type, and cost of items sold to evaluate and discontinue dishes that may be unpopular or less profitable.
Many managers are able to ease the burden of recordkeeping and paperwork through the use of computers. Point-of-service (POS) systems are used in many restaurants to increase employee productivity and allow managers to track the sales of specific menu items. Using a POS system, a server keys in the customer’s order, and the computer immediately sends the order to the kitchen so that preparation can begin. The same system totals checks, acts as a cash register and credit card authorizer, and tracks daily sales. To minimize food costs and spoilage, many managers use inventory-tracking software to compare the record of daily sales from the POS with a record of present inventory. In some establishments, when supplies needed for the preparation of popular menu items run low, additional inventory can be ordered directly from the supplier using the computer. Computers also allow restaurant and food service managers to more efficiently keep track of employee schedules and pay.
Technology also impacts the job of food service managers in many other ways, helping to enhance efficiency and productivity. According to the 2000 National Restaurant Association’s Tableservice Operator Survey, for example, Internet uses by food service managers included tracking industry news, finding recipes, conducting market research, purchasing supplies or equipment, recruiting employees, and training staff. Internet access also makes service to customers more efficient. Many restaurants maintain websites that include menus and online promotions and provide information about the restaurant’s location and the option to make a reservation.
Managers are among the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. At the conclusion of each day, or sometimes each shift, managers tally the cash and charge receipts received and balance them against the record of sales. In most cases, they are responsible for depositing the day’s receipts at the bank or securing them in a safe place. Finally, managers are responsible for locking up, checking that ovens, grills, and lights are off, and switching on alarm systems.
Working ConditionsEvenings and weekends are popular dining
periods, making night and weekend work common among managers. Many managers
of institutional food service facilities work more conventional hours because
factory and office cafeterias usually are open only on weekdays for breakfast
and lunch. However, hours for many
managers are unpredictable, as managers may have to fill in for absent workers
on short notice. It is common for food service managers to work 50 or more hours
per week, 7 days a week, and 12 to 15 hours per day.
Managers often experience the pressure of simultaneously coordinating a wide range of activities. When problems occur, it is the responsibility of the manager to resolve them with minimal disruption to customers. The job can be hectic during peak dining hours, and dealing with irate customers or uncooperative employees can be stressful.
Food service managers held about 371,000 jobs in 2009. Most managers were salaried, but more than 40 per cent were self-employed in independent restaurants or other small food service establishments. About 70 percent of all salaried jobs for food service managers were in full-service restaurants or limited-service eating places, such as fast-food restaurants and cafeterias. Other salaried jobs were in drinking places (alcoholic beverages) and in special food services—an industry that includes food service contractors who supply food services at institutional, governmental, commercial, or industrial locations. A small number of salaried jobs were in traveler accommodation (hotels); educational services; amusement, gambling, and recreation industries; nursing care facilities; and hospitals. Jobs are located throughout the country, with large cities and tourist areas providing more opportunities for full-service dining positions.
Training, Qualifications, Adv.Most food service management companies and
national or regional restaurant chains recruit management trainees from 2- and
4-year college hospitality management programs. Food service and restaurant
chains prefer to hire people with degrees in restaurant and institutional food
service management, but they often hire graduates with degrees in other fields
who have demonstrated interest and aptitude.
Some restaurant and food service manager positions, particularly self-service
and fast food, are filled by promoting experienced food and beverage preparation
and service workers. Waiters, waitresses, chefs, and fast-food workers demonstrating
potential for handling increased responsibility sometimes advance to assistant
manager or management trainee jobs. Executive chefs need extensive experience
working as chefs, and general managers need experience as assistant managers.
A bachelor’s degree in restaurant and food service management provides a particularly strong preparation for a career in this occupation. A number of colleges and universities offer 4-year programs in restaurant and hotel management or institutional food service management. For those not interested in pursuing a 4-year degree, community and junior colleges, technical institutes, and other institutions offer programs in these fields leading to an associate degree or other formal certification. Both 2- and 4-year programs provide instruction in subjects such as nutrition and food planning and preparation, as well as accounting, business law and management, and computer science. Some programs combine classroom and laboratory study with internships that provide on-the-job experience. In addition, many educational institutions offer culinary programs that provide food preparation training. This training can lead to a career as a cook or chef and provide a foundation for advancement to an executive chef position.
Most restaurant chains and food service management companies have rigorous training programs for management positions. Through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training, trainees receive instruction and gain work experience in all aspects of the operations of a restaurant or institutional food service facility. Topics include food preparation, nutrition, sanitation, security, company policies and procedures, personnel management, recordkeeping, and preparation of reports. Training on use of the restaurant’s computer system is increasingly important as well. Usually after 6 months or a year, trainees receive their first permanent assignment as an assistant manager.
Most employers emphasize personal qualities when hiring managers. For example, self-discipline, initiative, and leadership ability are essential. Managers must be able to solve problems and concentrate on details. They need good communication skills to deal with customers and suppliers, as well as to motivate and direct their staff. A neat and clean appearance is a must because they often are in close personal contact with the public. Food service management can be demanding, so good health and stamina also are important.
The certified Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) designation is a measure of professional achievement for food service managers. Although not a requirement for employment or advancement in the occupation, voluntary certification provides recognition of professional competence, particularly for managers who acquired their skills largely on the job. The Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association awards the FMP designation to managers who achieve a qualifying score on a written examination, complete a series of courses that cover a range of food service management topics, and meet standards of work experience in the field.
Willingness to relocate often is essential for advancement to positions with greater responsibility. Managers typically advance to larger establishments or regional management positions within restaurant chains. Some eventually open their own eating and drinking establishments. Others transfer to hotel management positions because their restaurant management experience provides a good background for food and beverage manager jobs in hotels and resorts.
Projected employment growth varies by industry. Most new jobs will arise in eating and drinking places as the number of establishments increases along with the population, personal incomes, and leisure time. In addition, manager jobs will increase in eating and drinking places as schools, hospitals, and other businesses contract out more of their food services to institutional food service companies within the eating and drinking industry. Food service manager jobs still are expected to increase in many of the latter industries, but growth will be slowed as contracting out becomes more common. Growth in the elderly population should result in more food service manager jobs in nursing homes and other healthcare institutions, and in residential-care and assisted-living facilities. Job opportunities should be better for salaried managers than for self-employed managers. New restaurants are increasingly affiliated with national chains rather than being independently owned and operated. As this trend continues, fewer owners will manage restaurants themselves, and more restaurant managers will be employed by larger companies to run establishments.
Job OutlookEmployment of food service managers is expected to
Projected employment growth varies by industry. Most new jobs will arise in eating and drinking places as the number of establishments increases along with the population, personal incomes, and leisure time. In addition, manager jobs will increase in eating and drinking places as schools, hospitals, and other businesses contract out more of their food services to institutional food service companies within the eating and drinking industry. Food service manager jobs still are expected to increase in many of the latter industries, but growth will be slowed as contracting out becomes more common. Growth in the elderly population should result in more food service manager jobs in nursing homes and other healthcare institutions, and in residential-care and assisted-living facilities.
Job opportunities should be better for salaried managers than for self-employed managers. New restaurants are increasingly affiliated with national chains rather than being independently owned and operated. As this trend continues, fewer owners will manage restaurants themselves, and more restaurant managers will be employed by larger companies to run establishments.
EarningsMedian annual earnings of salaried food service managers were $39,610 in May 2009. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,010 and $51,460. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,500, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68,860. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of food service managers in May 2009 were as follows:
Traveler accommodation $43,660
Special food services 43,530
Full-service restaurants 41,490
Limited-service eating places 36,400
Elementary and secondary schools 36,290
In addition to receiving typical benefits, most salaried food service managers are provided free meals and the opportunity for additional training, depending on their length of service. Some food service managers, especially those in full-service restaurants, may earn bonuses depending on sales volume or revenue.
Related OccupationsFood service managers direct the activities of businesses, which provide a service to customers. Other managers and supervisors in service-oriented businesses include
Information about a career as a food service manager, 2- and 4-year college programs in restaurant and food service management, and certification as a Foodservice Management Professional is available from: General information on hospitality careers may be obtained from: Additional information about job opportunities in food service management may be obtained from local employers and from local offices of State employment services agencies.
Sources of Additional Information
Information about a career as a food service manager, 2- and 4-year college programs in restaurant and food service management, and certification as a Foodservice Management Professional is available from:
General information on hospitality careers may be obtained from:
Additional information about job opportunities in food service management may be obtained from local employers and from local offices of State employment services agencies.