6 Skills That All Restaurant Managers Need

As leaders in the restaurant world, managers are often well-rounded individuals. Here are 6 skills every great restaurant manager typically has.

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April 1, 2022 7 min read

While chefs are the people who hold a kitchen together, restaurant managers keep the whole show running. When you realize that the people managing the restaurant are often responsible for managing costs, hiring employees, creating work schedules, and ordering supplies, it’s not surprising that they need quite the array of skills!

Even though restaurant managers come from all kinds of backgrounds, the best ones usually possess these six skills.

1. Effective Communication with All Employees

Top restaurant managers say exactly what needs to be said – no more and no less. As a manager, it’s your role to keep everyone in the front and back of house on the same page, even if they don’t interact with each other the entire shift.

young male and female worker in apron and female manager at a venue banquet

Imagine your servers are delivering tickets or entering order notes in a shorthand that the cooks don’t understand. At best, the diners will be disappointed with their meals. At worst, you’ve just served a dish that may lead to a severe allergic reaction. To help prevent these mistakes, a restaurant manager needs to step in and help smooth out any wrinkles in communication.

Communication can also make the difference between workers dreading their restaurant shift and relishing their work. With restaurant worker turnover rates near 7%, managers should do everything they can to keep trained workers happy and informed.

Escoffier Chef Instructor Jesper Jonsson“If you cut somebody short on a schedule because the restaurant is slow, most employees are going to think, well, this isn’t ideal, my paycheck is going to be less. But the truth of the matter is that by cutting payroll, we keep on making a profit, and you keep on having a job.”
Jesper Jonsson, Chef Instructor*

Let’s say a line cook is working slower than their normal pace one night. While they may just need a reminder to kick things into gear, they might also be distracted by an issue outside of work. Learning how to step in and offer the necessary encouragement or constructive criticism can help keep operations running smoothly.

Since communication can be such a key part of successful restaurant operations, students in Escoffier’s Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management program spend numerous classes exploring this skill. Business and Professional Communications cover topics like listening skills, nonverbal communication, and debate strategies while Foundations in Human Resources explores communication skills involved with things like onboarding, training, promoting, and terminating employees.

2. Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution

No matter how much you plan ahead, life in a restaurant doesn’t always go as planned.

One day, a delivery truck may get stuck in bad weather, causing ingredient shortages during that night’s dinner service. How will you keep the kitchen calm, customers happy, and your finances in the black?

Another night, a group of diners may be unhappy with their entrees, even after their server has requested that the kitchen refire them. How can you keep these tough customers as happy as possible without causing your staff undue frustration and stress?

Not only will you have to solve problems caused by outside sources, but you’ll also need to be prepared to address conflicts that arise between employees. Whether it’s a hot dispute between two servers or tension between the front and back of the house, a rift can affect the quality of both the service and the food. Therefore, you need to help employees make amends and remind them they’re on the same team.

Not only can Escoffier students explore how to handle interpersonal conflict in their courses, but they also get the chance to practice these skills during a hands-on industry externship. By jumping into a restaurant or similar business, students have the opportunity to see what real-world conflicts may arise, while still having the option to call on their instructors for advice.

3. Excellent Customer Service

While creative and delicious dishes can make your restaurant stand out, the same can be said for warm and genuine hospitality.

Chef Maria Davenport“Many of our students have previous culinary experience but are not familiar with front of the house operations. Our program addresses how to provide your customers with an outstanding hospitality experience, how to manage employees in various roles throughout the operation, and how to manage the profitability of the establishment.”
Vicki Berger, Hospitality and Restaurant Operations Management Instructor*

As a restaurant manager, your aim isn’t just to keep customers happy – you’re also striving to provide them with a service experience that has them raving. That not only means you treat customers with empathy and respect, but you also guide your team members to do the same.

4. Financial and Accounting Skills

While every restaurant manager wants their guests coming back for more, patrons can only return if the restaurant is still in operation! Even if a restaurant is producing delectable food and receiving rave reviews, it can still go under due to poor financial management.

Great restaurant managers understand all of the components that impact a restaurants’ expenses. Not only do they know how much each ingredient costs, but they also understand how to order, receive, and store ingredients so as little as possible goes to waste.

Escoffier’s Hospitality and Restaurant Operations Management degree program breaks these skills down into individual courses in Cost Control and Purchasing.

Chef Maria Davenport“Our students are taught the financial aspects of running a successful hospitality operation. Being able to apply this knowledge in the workplace can make them valued employees.”
Vicki Berger, Hospitality and Restaurant Operations Management Instructor*

Of course, how you prepare ingredients and price menu items also has an impact on the bottom line. That’s why students also have the opportunity to take a course focusing on Menu Design and Management.

All of these skills come together during the Foodservice Math and Accounting Course, where students can dive into income statements and financial analysis.

Restaurant manager having a conversation with chef with laptop on table

5. Technology Know-How

With a seemingly never-ending stream of apps and software systems hitting the market, restaurant managers often need to be attuned to the latest technological developments in the foodservice world. By staying on top of what new technology is available, managers may be able to streamline their online ordering, inventory management, reservations, and more.

Along with being aware of what kind of technology exists, restaurant managers should also be able to understand how these products function. When problems arise, they need to be comfortable troubleshooting, even if that just means calling the technology provider for help.

Students at Escoffier can explore the latest relevant technologies in a course on Operations Technology and Innovations.

6. Understanding of Culinary Techniques and Flavors

Although restaurant managers aren’t responsible for completing prep work and searing steaks, they still need to understand the food that’s coming out of the kitchen.

Great managers are familiar with important culinary terms and flavors as well as kitchen tools and techniques. With this understanding, they can articulately describe dishes to customers and answer their questions, ensure the kitchen has all the tools and ingredients it needs, and be able to spot a dish that wasn’t styled and plated correctly.

While some restaurant managers may have entered into this new role after working as a sous chef or server, others are new to the culinary field entirely. Regardless of their background, Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management students complete a course in Culinary Foundations to boost their knowledge.

Explore the Skills Necessary to Become a Great Restaurant Manager

Whether you’ve been working in a back of house role for some time or are entirely new to the hospitality industry, it’s never too late to learn about restaurant management.

Escoffier’s online degree in Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management can give students the opportunity to practice sought-after skills in an online format from the comfort of their own homes.

To learn more about culinary and pastry careers, read these articles next:

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

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