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A food-and-beverage manager oversees a staff of employees in a variety of outlets including fast-food restaurants, bakeries, delis, catering companies, bars or fine-dining establishments. Although the restaurant industry does not typically require employees to enter with a four-year degree, it offers numerous opportunities for career growth and financial success. To be a leader in this field, you might need to start in an entry-level position. But whether you're entering the industry as a manager or moving up the ranks, the following qualities might make you a good fit:
Food-and-beverage managers must be comfortable leading their employees and working with the public. In fast-food restaurants, some managers also work as cashiers. In fine-dining establishments the manager is expected to walk the floor and talk to patrons. At the same time, they have to ensure their employees are working efficiently. If a customer has a complaint, it's usually up to the manager to smooth things over and make sure the customer wants to return to the restaurant in the future.
In "America's Top 100 Jobs for People without a Four-Year Degree," authors Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds, say, "Food-service managers and assistant managers are sometimes responsible for pricing menu items and using food and other supplies in an efficient way to prevent waste." To make sure their employees are maximizing the restaurant's resources, managers might enforce portion sizes of ingredients when cooks or bartenders prepare meals or drinks. They might also train staff members to work quickly, but in a friendly and efficient manner, so they can handle a high volume of customers.
In some cases, food-and-beverage managers work for the owner of the establishment, who has entrusted his or her managers with the restaurant's profits and supplies. Stealing from the establishment or other dishonesty is a fast way to lose the owner's trust and make it difficult to find a similar position in the future.
Advance preparation is a key success factor in restaurant operations. This means ensuring table settings are ready to place before customers come in and ingredients are fresh and ready to prepare into entrees during a rush. Food-and-beverage managers must be strong administrators. Your employees will rely on you to decide what days and times they're working and what their responsibilities, are so scheduling staff hours is a key task, as well as handling payroll. Your employees will expect to be paid regularly and at the same time each week or every two weeks, whatever the schedule is.
Willing to Learn and Lead
Even after you've become a manager, you will continuously be in learning mode. It will be your responsibility to make sure the restaurant does not face liability issues, so you will need to stay up-to-date on safety certifications and management techniques. Also, your employees are likely to perform better and remain at the establishment if they feel they can learn from you. Employee retention can be a major success factor in the quality of your service and reduce new-employee expenses, such as training time, new uniforms and the time it takes for new hires to learn the job.
Flexibility with Hours
Your hours will depend on the venue for which you work. If you work in a restaurant or bar, you might at times need to work late at night. If you work in fast-food or at a school cafeteria, you hours might be nine-to-five, or might vary for fast food. Be prepared for all situations if your goal is to work in management.
Judy Asman is a former leisure columnist and restaurant reviewer for Southern California magazines and guidebooks. She is the editor of "The Astute Recorder," which focuses on food and leisure with a historic twist. After graduating with a bachelor's in mass media studies from The University of San Francisco, she later earned a master's in journalism and public affairs from American University, Washington, D.C.