Most of us have encountered a food service manager once or twice in our lives, but not everyone is aware of just how important they can be to an enjoyable restaurant experience. With innovation running rampant in the food service sector and celebrity chefs opening up new eateries at every turn, the buffet of opportunities for top-notch food service managers may be at an all-time high.
Here's a look at the typical responsibilities of a food service manager, salary expectations and job growth projections, educational requirements and other fundamental aspects of the career.
Occupational Requirements and Career Outlook
Food service managers often have input into many aspects of policy, planning and execution in their service environment, and candidates with certain combinations of skills and traits may be better prepared for success than others. Here are some of the essential traits and abilities for food service managers, according to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET):
- Customer service
- Leadership skills
- Social perceptiveness
- Active listening
- Decision making
- Personnel management
- Time management
- Conflict resolution
- Problem solving
The duties of a food service manager tend to depend on the needs of the company and the size of the pool of management staff, but there are a few general responsibilities common among managers in food service enterprises:
- Designing schedules for front-of-house (dining room) and back-of-house (kitchen) staff
- Ensuring compliance with health code, fire code and other safety regulations
- Working with customers and employees to resolve issues with service or food quality
- Monitoring budgets, food and beverage inventory, payroll records and other financial transactions
Food service managers may also handle purchasing, receiving, bookkeeping or other quantitative tasks. Business math and statistical forecasting skills can be a big plus in positions with a strong back-office element.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists no specific educational requirement for aspiring food service managers, but competition can be fairly stiff for the most desirable jobs and employers may prefer to hire candidates with at least some formal training in hospitality management or who've started the path to a business administration degree.
Perhaps more importantly, most restaurant owners understand that the well-developed perspective gained through industry experience can be an invaluable part of a successful food service manager's skillset. If you're thinking about a career in food service management, gaining some experience in a professional kitchen or as a table server can help build your professional credibility while giving you valuable ground-level insight into the particulars of the job.
How Much do Food Service Managers Make?
Food service manager salaries can depend on a number of factors, from education and experience to geographical location and individual company policy. The BLS reports a nationwide average salary of $53,130 for food service managers in 2013, with the highest regional wage figures for the year reported in the following states:
- New Jersey: $69,200
- Rhode Island: $68,690
- Virginia: $67,570
- New York: $67,550
- Nevada: $67,100
In fact, the average food service manager salary exceeds the overall average wage in just about every state in the country. Demand in the industry is consistently strong, and reviewer-driven consumer tools like Yelp are giving the proprietors of well-run restaurants more to smile about than ever.
Restaurant management may not be the first thing that comes to mind in the field of business administration, but there's no question that professionals who love food, people and a fast-paced atmosphere might just find themselves right at home.