Careers: Restaurant Management

Managing a restaurant is hard work, but it can be lucrative. Here are some things to consider before following this career path.

Becoming a restaurant manager can be a challenging goal, albeit it a rewarding one under the right conditions. On the plus side are facts like you may not need a college diploma, you might be able to work your way up, and you may be able to open your own restaurant someday. Negatives include the long hours, employee turnover, and market unpredictability.

Before taking a job as a counter clerk at a fast food establishment in hopes of opening your own franchise someday, give some thought to considerations like these:

1. Restaurant management requires accountability. Larger restaurants have several managers, including those for the day shift, night shift, district, and region (if the restaurant is part of a chain). Even as a manager, you may have to answer to several higher-level supervisors above you, so management may not offer the autonomy you envision at the beginning of your career. In addition, the customers and staff depend on you to be there, rain or shine, to keep the establishment operating smoothly.



2. Your decisions affect people's lives. Food preparation is a serious business that requires careful monitoring and adherence to state and local laws. With a mistake or two, hundreds of people could become seriously ill, with potential fatalities among the elderly or infirm. You will have to keep an eye on product quality, preparation, and preservation, realizing that the staff who work under you may have limited knowledge or experience in the restaurant industry, and thus depend on you for guidance and supervision.

3. You are responsible for the facility. If the toilets overflow, you have to fix them or call a plumber. A leaky roof, broken air conditioner, or weed-choked sidewalk become your responsibility in maintaining an attractive, functional property that is safe for customers and employees. When someone points out a problem, like chipped glasses or missing silverware, you will need to know which actions to take to address the problem quickly and appropriately.

4. You must serve wholesome food products. When the meat spoils, you'll have to find quick substitutions and order more. If you run out of French fries, menus may have to be adjusted temporarily. If a new bag of salad greens appears discolored or wilted, you'll have to make the decision to discard it and designate a replacement side dish. Should a customer complain about an entrée or a meal, it will be up to you to settle the matter in a way that will bring the customer back for future business.

5. You will supervise numerous staff members. If someone calls off sick, it's up to you to find a replacement. When the company adds a new product to the menu, you'll have to supervise employee training. Whatever affects the crew will also impact you, so be prepared to roll with the punches and act quickly under certain conditions.

Restaurant management work can be exciting and challenging as well as meaningful. But it also can fill your schedule and make demands on your personal life when things go wrong. Try to job shadow a restaurant manager or talk to several who can tell you more about this popular job opportunity that can pay well if you don't mind keeping busy.

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