restaurant manager

How to Become a Restaurant Manager

Aine Hendron
16 Jun 2021

This is your complete guide to how to become a successful restaurant manager: how to break into the role, the responsibilities, the expected hours and salary. We also share our tips on becoming a good leader, how to stand out in the application process, and advice on how to excel in the role. 

How to become a manager

There are two main routes to becoming a manager: working your way up, and being appointed directly into the role. Both of these options take roughly the same amount of time, and each have their own pros and cons. 

Work your way up

9 in 10 restaurant managers started at entry level [1]. To obtain the role this way, you’ll need experience working in hospitality, usually for at least one or two years. Search for restaurants that favour promoting internally, and offer career opportunities for those inside the company. Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed allow employees to leave reviews of where they work, so you might want to look there before applying to a role. 

If you want to become a manager by progressing internally, the only qualifications typically needed for the role are the qualifications needed to become a server, cashier, kitchen worker, or junior chef. In the UK, this is normally at least 5 GCSEs, or relevant level 1 or level 2 btec. 

Most large restaurant chains offer courses to existing employees who want to move forward in their careers. Companies such as McDonald’s UK are open about the fact that their management and supervisor programme is a stepping stone in people’s careers [2]. They’re designed to help aspiring managers establish themselves within the hospitality management sphere.

These management courses may include writing a floor plan, problem solving, conflict resolution, additional health and safety training, first aid, equipment training and restaurant financing. 

Benefits of working your way up:

  • Valuable experience cannot be taught
  • Much more hands-on method of learning
  • Better insight of what the role will entail and necessary skills to succeed

Potential setbacks:

  • Can take longer than entering the job directly 
  • Knowledge is based on/limited to experience - you may not be taught how to handle certain situations
  • Less freedom: you may have to work in one place for some time

Enter the role directly

Some employers may prefer an external candidate for the role. Examples of useful bachelor degrees for restaurant management include: project management, business studies and hospitality management. Of course, university level degrees aren’t always essential in becoming a manager - some restaurants may want to see these subjects somewhere on your resume, perhaps as an a-level. Catering courses or previous experience in food-preparation or food hygiene may also be advantageous. 

However, your skills and attributes are often more important if you are entering the role directly. 

Benefits of entering the role directly:

  • Management and leadership skills are extremely transferable 
  • Experience from other industries may give you a unique perspective
  • Removes need to work in a junior position for an extended period of time

Potential setbacks: 

  • Have to learn a wide variety of new skills - managers are expected to know how to operate most, if not all, work stations
  • May lack knowledge and understanding that only experience can provide
  • Attending university to learn management skills is typically a lot more expensive than working your way up. Courses are often 3-4 years long

Understanding the role

How much are restaurant managers paid? 

The average salary for a casual dining restaurant manager in the UK is around £24,708 per year, with the highest 10% of managers earning around £33,000. Fine dining restaurant managers might earn around £40,000 per year [3].

Pay varies greatly depending on the type of establishment that you manage. Other factors which contribute towards your salary include: the restaurant location; your duties; whether or not you are working as the sole manager, or part of a wider management team; and your training - whether you entered the role directly or worked your way up. 

What is the shift pattern? 

Sometimes the first to arrive and the last to leave, the UK National Careers Service reports that restaurant managers typically work around 42-44 hours per week [4]. You should prepare to work unsociable hours and sacrifice evenings and weekends due to the typical opening hours of restaurants. Most restaurants will open on all public holidays too, only closing for some religious holidays, depending on location. Of course, this depends on the specific restaurant and is not the case for all. 

What does a restaurant manager do?

Depending on whether you work in fast-food, casual dining or fine dining, your specific duties will vary. Generally, here are some of the most common responsibilities you can expect to handle: 

  • Planning rotas and overseeing employee holidays, sick days and shift-swaps
  • Counting and ordering stock
  • Resolving customer complaints
  • Organising cash floats and taking responsibility for all monies
  • Deciding on the right POS system
  • Recruiting, managing and disciplining employees
  • Analysing sales performance and setting targets
  • Ensuring health and safety regulations are being observed by staff
  • Managing labour, budgets and projections
  • Observing and flexing between stations to help staff when necessary

What skills and qualities should a good restaurant manager have?  

Many of us know from experience that not all managers are good leaders. 

Leadership skills, such as problem solving, decision making, analytical thinking, the ability to motivate others and a strong work ethic, are useful for managers. 

You should be able to work under pressure in a high-intensity, fast paced environment and remain gracious, in order to treat both customers and staff with good manners, even if you are feeling stressed.

Strong interpersonal skills, understanding and compassion are essential. These combine with great customer service skills and the ability to communicate effectively.

A good manager should lead by example and be flexible, with strong observation skills to notice if employees are struggling, and be willing to jump straight into the action and help. 

How to stand out as a candidate: guides and resources

It won’t be hard for a restaurant to find and hire a manager who can ‘get the job done’. Prospective employers will likely seek a candidate who will excel in the role and make effective positive change. 

Restaurants, like any other profitable business should want to reduce spending and costs, and increase profit and productivity in order to be as profitable as possible. Being equipped with the knowledge of how to implement these changes should help you start apart from the crowd. 

Understand the technology

Obviously every restaurant will operate with different pieces of equipment, and have their own way of doing things. Some common technological systems you should expect to see include: 

  • The platform where real-time projections, sales and revenue are displayed
  • The platform used to count and order stock and uniform
  • Customer order history
  • The system used to organise bank deposits
  • Online accounting and budgeting software
  • The system where rota is written, and where holidays and annual leave are approved

Of course, all of these operations, and more, can be handled by the Epos Now Restaurant System. Using a reliable POS system has been proven to streamline business processes, with 86% of businesses investing in technology to improve their productivity in 2021 [5]. 

Restaurant manager and owner guides

Epos Now have a full library of resources dedicated to those working in the hospitality and restaurant industry on our website. Here are our most sought after guides for restaurant managers and owners: