How to Hire a General Manager for Your Restaurant


Restaurants are fast-moving, high-energy operations in which workers are on their feet for hours at a time in order to cook, clean, take orders and run food. Things happen fast in a busy restaurant, and game-time decisions are integral to a smooth operation. This requires a solid management system. Some restaurants employ a team of managers, consisting of a bar manager, an assistant manager, a kitchen manager or chef, and a general manager (GM).

The GM is a common management position found in just about every restaurant. A general manager (GM) is responsible for making key decisions in the restaurant setting, choices that affect both employees and customers alike. When opening your new restaurant, this is one of the most important positions you will fill. The general manager needs to be experienced and prepared to uphold high standards for running a successful operation.

Manager Qualifications

When hiring a restaurant general manager, look for strong operational skills grounded with outstanding personality traits. The person should have a good feel for how the industry works so he or she can make smart decisions and represent your business well. Owners should interview all candidates with the following characteristics in mind:

Restaurant Manager Salary

A seasoned manager usually makes $30-45 thousand a year, but some owners insist on paying managers overtime to keep them motivated. Essentially, do whatever you can to keep a good manager without letting them take advantage of you. Good managers are not easy to find, and harder to keep. » Learn More About Employee Wages and Benefits

Experience. The most important qualification for your future GM is experience working in restaurants. This includes experience as a non-manager as well as a manager. You want to be sure that the candidate knows the ropes before putting that person in charge of an entire operation. It helps if he or she has been a dishwasher, a cook, or a cashier, and knows how a restaurant works from various perspectives. Some owners especially like candidates with experience managing a small independent restaurant. This typically means the candidate has experience initiating relationships with vendors, developing marketing strategies and growing a restaurant business without the support of a franchise.

Supervising skills. The GM is not only a leader, but also a supervisor. He or she must feel comfortable in a position of authority that includes coaching, rewarding and disciplining employees in a responsible and effective matter.

Work ethic. Running a restaurant is not a nine-to-five job by any means. Restaurant managers should anticipate working 50-60 hours or more each week, with a commitment to punctuality and accessibility. The GM also needs to demonstrate a strong sense of integrity, doing the job right every time and setting a good example for employees.

Ability to hire and train staff. A big part of a manager’s success is his or her ability to build a team of great people. The GM should have a good eye for hiring strong employees and a commitment to training them to a high performance standard.

Manager Responsibilities

When it comes to managing a restaurant, responsibilities are fairly similar across the board. A restaurant manager must be able to handle a fast-paced business, caring for the needs of the employees and customers alike. When hiring, be sure the GM candidates can perform the following basic responsibilities:

Hiring Managers Down the Road

Look at the possibility of hiring from within the restaurant. You can keep a lot of good people in your business by giving them the opportunity to grow. Look for a mature attitude and a great personality when promoting. Employees with experience and knowledge of how to run the business make great candidates for managerial roles.

Opening and closing procedures. Opening and closing the restaurant are critical daily procedures that require responsible, mature personnel. The manager must not only know the tasks associated with opening the restaurant every day, but also closing down and securing the restaurant after business hours are over. The manager also has keys to the building, codes for the security system and access to the safe.

Supervising skills. The GM is not only a leader, but also a supervisor. He or she must feel comfortable in a position of authority that includes coaching, rewarding and disciplining employees in a responsible and effective matter.

Tracking inventory. The GM is usually in charge of all inventory matters in the restaurant, tracking it by counting all food and beverages daily and weekly. This ensures constant control of cost of goods sold (COGS) in the restaurant.

» Learn More About Conducting Inventory and Tracking Usage

Cash handling procedures. The manager is accountable for all cash-handling procedures in the restaurant, including all employees using a cash register. The manager must be able to train employees in proper cash-handling methods and must have controls in place to account for all revenue received.

»Learn More About Procedures for Balancing a Cash Register

Develop marketing strategies. Although some chain restaurants employ their own marketing team, restaurant managers are usually expected to assist with marketing campaigns in their area. Independent restaurant managers often have to work even harder to promote their brand for a new restaurant.

» Learn More About Restaurant Marketing

Manage labor and wages. Labor costs are one of the biggest costs in a restaurant. The manager is responsible for monitoring employee hours and controlling subsequent labor costs. In addition, the manager you hire must be accountable for properly recording work hours and pay rates, especially since employees communicate directly with the GM about any issues with wages, pay rates and scheduling.

» Learn More About How To Control Labor Cost

When hiring for your new restaurant, plan to hire the general manager early in the process. This helps involve the GM with hiring and training other employees, as well as setting up the restaurant and other pre-opening tasks. Above all, be sure the person is someone you can trust to do the job right. Your restaurant may just depend on it.


About Author

Jamie Alberico

I've come a long way from peanut butter and ramen. Trust me. If I can figure out how to make a healthy and delicious meal-- so can you! And best of all, I'll share my do's and don'ts. (I've learned a lot of don'ts!)

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