How to hire a restaurant general manager to support your business

How to hire a restaurant general manager to support your business

Jonathan Bender
By Jonathan Bender
Jan 4, 2022
7 min read

You’ve been managing the day-to-day operations, but now your business has grown to the point where you need to hire a restaurant general manager or GM. 

Restaurants often feel like the hardest places on earth to leave. There are always open shifts, pots to wash and Instagram posts to style. If your list never ends, it’s time to find someone that ticks all the boxes. 

Let’s look at how a restaurant general manager can help your business, the exact responsibilities of a general manager and what traits you should consider during the GM hiring process. 

Why do you need a restaurant general manager? 

A general manager helps you stay engaged, develop culture and onboard new staff. They can also free up critical time for you to focus your efforts on partnerships and marketing. Here are three key reasons for hiring a general manager right now. 

Avoiding burnout

When you have someone to back you up or run the restaurant in your absence, you can take time off for yourself and your family. 

Building systems

Your business may have shifted to online ordering or curbside pickup, and the coming months will likely bring new economic challenges or changes in local regulations. Systems that help your staff work more efficiently are invaluable. 

Overseeing training

With restaurants facing a labor shortage, continually looking for employees may be the new reality. A good manager heads up a clear, simplified training program and provides new staff with answers. 

What are a restaurant general manager’s responsibilities? 

The general manager plays a critical role in whether or not a restaurant operates smoothly. One of their primary responsibilities is to oversee the hiring, training and scheduling of staff. 

(TIP: Onboarding new team members is a good time to review your workers’ comp insurance because you will need to update your coverage whenever you make staff changes to protect you and your employees.)

In the front of the house (the dining room), the general manager tries to keep everything in balance. They manage customers’ expectations, update servers on whether or not dishes are available and handle emergencies. 

General managers don’t only manage people; they also can be responsible for ordering food, as well as making sure your restaurant is adhering to health and safety laws. Managing licensing and regularly scheduling equipment maintenance can help your restaurant avoid insurance claims

Where should you look for general manager candidates? 

With the current job market, you may need to be flexible during your search for a general manager. A recent study from the National Restaurant Association showed that nearly four out of five restaurants (78%) are currently understaffed

Also, keep in mind that the average restaurant general manager salary is $54,699 annually, according to Glassdoor. This number is likely to increase as service industry wages continue to move higher

Promoting an internal candidate

There’s a compelling case for hiring somebody you already know. You likely know their strengths and weaknesses. They know your systems and culture. 

Offering a promotion or the possibility of advancement can help with employee retention. You’re not only offering a higher wage; you’re offering the opportunity to have a career. 

Hiring an external candidate 

Fresh eyes can often spot a problem you might not see. The benefit of bringing in a restaurant general manager from outside your team is that they can bring in a new perspective and solutions from other workplaces. 

You can also avoid potential jealousy issues or rivalries between your existing employees, which can be an unintentional consequence of promoting a team member. 

What kind of general manager aligns with your business goals?

Start by thinking about where your restaurant or food service business is today. And then, consider where you want the business to go in the next five years. Now, which of the two candidates below best aligns with your goals? 

You want a task master. If you have established systems in place, you should focus on hiring a detail-oriented, organized general manager. Find someone who excels at time management and helping others stay on track. 

You want a visionary leader. Suppose you don’t have an employee handbook or set practices because you’re opening a new location or have shifted your business model during the pandemic. In that case, you should look for an innovative general manager who is excited to help you build out sustainable processes. 

What traits should you look for in a general manager? 

Once you’ve decided to hire a general manager, you need to think about what your restaurant needs right now and in the future. And more importantly, what you need from a general manager to be successful. 

When you’re considering applicants, look for people with the following four key traits:

1. Effective problem-solving skills 

Restaurant general managers deal with various personalities and issues that pop up spontaneously. A talented manager continually adjusts their priorities in response to what’s happening around them. 

2. Solid organizational skills 

When it comes to establishing training and prep procedures, you need someone that will keep the line moving. This isn’t only about checklists; it’s also about creating a good workflow for your employees. 

3. Clear communication skills 

General managers need to be able to concisely explain new procedures. They also have to be comfortable speaking with employees, customers and public officials. 

4. Strong interpersonal skills 

General managers help define the culture of your restaurant. Look for someone who is empathetic and able to work with a variety of personality types. 

How NEXT provides restaurants with the insurance coverage they need 

While a general manager will improve your daily operations, the right business insurance protects your business every day. At NEXT, we create customized restaurant insurance packages so you can get affordable coverage that matches your specific business needs. 

We know you’ve got a lot to do right now. That’s why we simplified the application process. Our online application lets you get a quote, choose your coverage and get your certificate of insurance in a process that can take less than 10 minutes. 

Got a question? Our team of licensed, U.S.-based insurance professionals are ready to chat. 

Get a free quote now.

How to hire a restaurant general manager to support your business


Jonathan Bender 1
About the author
Jonathan Bender is a food writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He's also an Emmy Award winning documentarian and the author of a pair of cookbooks: Stock, Broth & Bowl and Cookies & Beer. He's written about restaurants for two decades, which thankfully for diners and his self-esteem, is much longer than his career as a waiter. He is always happy to share barbecue recommendations and is open to your sandwich suggestions.
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