What should you look for when hiring a restaurant manager?

Restaurants are in the middle of a full-blown staffing crisis. It’s more important than ever to find good employees and hang onto them. That goes double for restaurant managers, the person in charge of making sure your business runs smoothly on a day-to-day.

When looking to hire a restaurant manager, you need to take the time to make sure you’re hiring someone you can entrust with your business. So what qualities make a good restaurant manager? What character traits should you be looking for?

We broke down some of the biggest below. Not every manager will need to check each of these three boxes, but the best candidates will.

Reliability

This is probably the most important trait to look for when hiring a new manager for your restaurant. In the service industry, you need reliable employees that you can count on to be where they’re supposed to be, and doing what they need to be doing. Otherwise everything falls apart.

What does it mean to be a reliable, though? There are really two major traits that make a reliable manager: punctuality and professionalism. That may seem obvious, but punctuality and professionalism are musts when you’re working in a restaurant.

Restaurants have set hours of business when they can make money. They also operate on famously low-margins, so it’s imperative that they are functioning at the highest levels during those hours. On top of that, customers expect a certain experience when they come to your restaurant. That’s why punctuality is so important. You need to know that you can count on your restaurant manager to be there everyday when they say they will be. Not only that, but they also need to ensure their staff does the same. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on valuable business hours and sour the customer experience.

Professionalism is about setting a culture for your restaurant and holding others accountable to upholding it.

Openness to Change

For the vast majority of their history, restaurants were thought of as one of the more static industries. They were slow to adopt new tech. They had a business model that worked. And customers liked the familiarity of dining out at one of their favorite restaurants.

That all changed with the pandemic. Restaurants and customers alike were forced to adapt to unprecedented challenges and circumstances. New methods of doing business popped up overnight. Restaurants across the country had to embrace off-premise. Customers and waitstaff had to grapple with new technologies like QR codes. Employees had to direct customers through new safety procedures and policies.

You want a restaurant manager who can navigate these challenges as they pop up. In 2022, that requires an openness to change and a willingness to adapt. No one knows for sure what next big change lies in stores for restaurants, so you want to hire a manager who can read and react to big changes without becoming flustered.

One major aspect of being open to change — the ability to master new technologies. Today’s managers need to stay on top of a wide range of technologies, whether they be new like QR codes, part of your backend like a point of sale system, or part of your marketing like a menu maker tool. New technology pops every year to further automate the restaurant experience, so you need a manager with the technical proficiency to determine what tools could help business and how to use them.

Strong people skills

While automation continues to grow and influence the industry, restaurants will always, at their heart, be a people business. If customers want a strict transaction for a meal, they can find it any QSR establishment. They choose full-service sit-down restaurants because they want something more. They want a human element.

That starts with the person in charge, so make sure you hire a manager with the people skills to set a proper culture. For this job, people skills come in two forms: dealing with customers, and dealing with other employees. Both are equally important to building a winning culture at your restaurant.

Strong personal skills with customers helps foster that welcoming environment and human element that’s so important to the dining experience. On the other side, strong personal skills with employees builds a professional, winning culture and come help cut back on employee turnover and churn.

At the end of the day

Hiring is an imperfect science. So is running a restaurant. When combining the two, try to look for some of the personality traits we mentioned above to ensure you’re making the right choice for who will run your restaurant.