What does a restaurant general manager do? The right restaurant manager skills to hire

What does a restaurant general manager do? The right restaurant manager skills to hire

Jonathan Bender
By Jonathan Bender
Aug 25, 2023
5 min read

If you’re lucky, your restaurant has grown enough to hire the skills of a restaurant general manager (often called a GM). They can free up critical time for you to focus on big-picture business planning like partnerships and marketing, and help to manage staff.

Read ahead to learn:

What does a restaurant general manager do?

The general manager plays a critical role in smooth restaurant operations. 

One of their primary responsibilities is to oversee the hiring, training, management and scheduling of staff. (TIP: Onboarding new team members is a good time to review your workers’ compensation insurance. You’ll need to update your coverage whenever you make staff changes to protect your employees.)

Front of house, the general manager manages customers’ expectations, updates servers on menu changes and handles emergencies. 

General managers can also be responsible for ordering inventory, and make sure your restaurant is adhering to health and safety laws. Well-managed permits and licensing and regularly scheduled equipment maintenance can help your restaurant avoid insurance claims.

Why should you hire a restaurant manager?

Here are three reasons to hire a restaurant general manager:

  1. Prevent your eventual burnout. When you have someone to back you up or run the restaurant in your absence, you can take time off for other projects, yourself and your family. 
  2. Get help building and executing new business. Maybe you want to expand your business into online ordering or catering, launch new restaurant management software, or start your own retail product line. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to go it alone.
  3. Grow and better train your staff. With restaurants facing a labor shortage, continuous hiring can take a toll on time. A good restaurant GM heads up a clear, simple training program and mentors staff to do their best work.

How to find a restaurant manager

The average restaurant general manager’s salary can vary; as of this writing, it was around $67,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. This number is likely to increase as service industry wages continue to move higher.

There’s a compelling case to be made for promoting an internal candidate or hiring someone you already know. You’ll already know their strengths and weaknesses. And they know your systems and culture.

A promotion or job advancement can help with employee retention. You’re not only offering a higher wage; You’re offering the opportunity to carve out a career.

If you decide to bring in an external candidate, you may need to be flexible during your search for a restaurant general manager.

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

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

What restaurant general manager skills should you look for?

Think about where your restaurant or food service business is today. And consider where you want the business to go in the next five years. These are the restaurant general manager skills you should look for.

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 helps others stay on track. 

You want a visionary leader. Look for an innovative general manager who is excited to help you build out sustainable processes.

When you consider applicants, look for people with these four traits:

1. Effective problem-solving skills 

Restaurant general managers deal with multiple 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 

For team training and daily prep, you need someone that will keep the line moving. This isn’t only about checklists. Look for a candidate who can create a good workflow for your employees.

3. Clear communication skills 

General managers need to be able to concisely explain practices and 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 a restaurant. Look for someone who is empathetic and able to work with and motivate a variety of personalities.

How NEXT provides restaurant insurance for small business owners

The right business insurance protects your restaurant every day. NEXT creates customized restaurant insurance packages so you can get coverage to match your specific business needs.

Our online application lets you get a quote, choose your coverage and get your certificate of insurance in less than 10 minutes. 

Got a question? Our team of licensed, U.S.-based insurance professionals are standing by. 

Get a free instant quote from NEXT. 

What does a restaurant general manager do? The right restaurant manager skills to hire


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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