How to be a Good Restaurant Manager: Essential Skills and Qualities

How to be a Good Restaurant Manager: Essential Skills and Qualities

Behind every great restaurant is a great manager. Restaurant managers perform a wide variety of tasks to ensure the smooth operation of their business. A restaurant manager's job can involve everything from financial management to ensuring customer satisfaction to menu development and more.

Whether you are considering a career in the restaurant industry, or you are long-established and are looking for some general restaurant management tips, check out our helpful guide complete with everything you need to know about this critical position.

What does a restaurant manager do?

Restaurant general managers have a wide array of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Hiring and managing staff members
  • Supervising day-to-day operations
  • Responding to customer feedback
  • Managing finances
  • Following regulations around food treatment, health and safety
  • Supply chain and inventory management
  • Human resource management
  • Menu development

At any given moment, a restaurant manager may be called upon to lend assistance in different departments of the venue. If the kitchen is short on chefs, the manager may have to step in, culinary training or no. If the barista is running late, the manager will have to make an appearance behind the coffee machine.

The restaurant manager sits just below ownership in the hierarchy of restaurant staff. Often, a general manager may also be the owner of a venue.

Essential skills for a restaurant manager

The ideal skillset for a restaurant manager is multi-faceted. Here are just a few of the most important skills for new managers and established veterans alike to brush up on.


Perhaps the most important skill for effective restaurant managers is the ability to multi-task. The responsibilities of a general manager are extremely wide-ranging. During a restaurant's busiest moments, it may be necessary for a manager to make a coffee, handle a customer complaint and keep an eye on the front-of-house staff to ensure the floor is running smoothly. All the while, they may be planning out next week's roster and milk order.

The ability to multi-task is therefore essential to keep a restaurant operational. One of the keys to successful multi-tasking is focus. Ensure you are getting adequate sleep and reduce all unnecessary distractions so you can focus solely on the duties at hand. Work on leaving your personal life at the door so that you have more capacity to take on the day's activities.

People skills

From staff members to customers to suppliers to ownership, a restaurant manager will need to deal with a variety of stakeholders on a given day. People skills are essential for effective and enriching interactions that meet their purpose. You will find your relationships with your employees and other stakeholders improve as you work on your people skills.

To develop your people skills, focus deeply on each and every interaction you have throughout the day. Practise active listening, always do your best to keep conversations flowing and work on your emotional intelligence. Over time, you will notice your workplace interactions become more efficient and rewarding.


Problem-solving skills

As a restaurant manager, you can expect to face a wide range of problems on any given day. Additionally, you can be sure that issues faced by your employees and your customers will find their way to you. You must be able to assess a given problem, quickly and calmly find the best course of action and then enact it.

Research suggests that activities like sudoku and even playing video games can improve your ability to solve problems. You can also implement training activities like role-playing in your workplace to improve the problem-solving skills of you and your staff.


Essential qualities for a restaurant manager

While skills are easy to work on and improve, qualities are more ingrained elements of ourselves and can require more effort to change for the better. So, if you already possess the following qualities, you're a great candidate to become a successful restaurant manager. If not, make an effort in your daily life to foster these traits.


A key quality of great managers is organisation. With so many proverbial balls to juggle, it is important that you are able to keep track of all your most important tasks and address them in an appropriate order.

If organisation isn't your strong suit, there is no shortage of strategies to help you manage your tasks well. You can keep a detailed to-do list on a notepad or on a smartphone app. ResDiary also offers a variety of features to make the lives of general managers easier by streamlining table management and other critical functions of your restaurant.


Hospitality management is not for the faint of heart. It is a complex role that requires you to keep tabs on just about everything that's going on in the restaurant. As such, you need to be motivated and driven to excel in your role.

The best way to be motivated to perform a role is to be excited about it. If you jump out of bed every morning feeling excited to do everything you can to help your venue succeed, being a restaurant manager is the perfect job for you.

Quick thinking

Are you always coming up with swift resolutions to major issues? Managing a restaurant business may be the perfect career for you. With so many different problems arising on a daily basis, a quick-witted restaurant manager is a successful one.

Many of the same activities that improve problem-solving will also help to boost your general quick thinking. Park yourself on the lounge and apply yourself to your favourite brain-benders and you may find succeeding in your role easier than ever.

Tips for becoming a better restaurant manager

Here are a few of the top tips for superior restaurant management outcomes. Remember that workplace improvement is a constant process. Applying yourself to being better every day is the best way to enjoy long-term success.

Be a leader

As a restaurant manager, you are responsible for setting the tone of your business. Your staff – some of whom may be very new to the workforce – will look to you as an example and for guidance on how to conduct themselves.

Some important leadership skills include:

  • Leading by example: Show, don't tell. From your dress code to customer service, provide a shining example for all your staff members to follow. This gives your employees a framework upon which to base their behaviour and shows that you are personally committed to upholding the standards of your restaurant.
  • Clear communication: Don't leave your staff guessing as to what you require from them. Make it very clear at all times what a given task entails, and which employees should be handling it.
  • Delegate: It is easy to fall into the trap of being overly controlling as a restaurant manager. Trust your team and know when to delegate. This will ensure you are not overworked and all tasks can be taken care of properly.
  • Having a vision: You should have a clear image of what your restaurant represents at all times. Keep this mission in mind at all times and share it with your staff. This will help everyone in your restaurant be more effective as they work towards a common goal.

Get your hands dirty

A great restaurant manager is never afraid to get involved with any aspect of the business. Your staff will gain much more respect for you when they see you are willing to put in the work right alongside them.

Work with your staff and learn from each and every one of them. This will make you a better restaurant manager in the long run.

Hire and retain staff effectively

High employee turnover can be a death knell for your business. Ensure you are conducting rigorous interviews and you are hiring effectively. You then need to make sure you are promoting a great work environment and following other employee retention strategies.

Make sure your team is fairly compensated for their work. Acknowledge those that are going above and beyond in their roles. Resolve complaints your staff have swiftly and fairly. Creating a great work environment will lead to better outcomes for your restaurant and boost your staff's job satisfaction.

Listen to your team

Your staff are an incredible resource for finding ways to improve your business. They are likely to be bursting with ideas to upgrade your processes and are eager for an opportunity to share them.

Implementing ideas that your staff have will also help to make them feel valued within your business, increasing the chance that they will want to remain with your restaurant long-term.

Acquire and implement customer feedback

Another excellent source for ideas to improve your business is your customers. A simple strategy – such as placing a QR code in your restaurant which takes customers to a quick online survey – can yield extremely insightful responses. You can also encourage customers to leave online reviews on Google and other sites.

Once you've attained customer feedback, you need to implement it. You are likely to receive responses that are wide-ranging and contradictory. The best way to begin to implement customer expectations and feedback is to have a team meeting and go over the key insights. This provides yet another avenue for you to amplify the voices of your team.

Consider your marketing strategies

The restaurant industry is highly competitive. You need to find a way to get your name out there and stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by focusing on your restaurant marketing strategies. From social media to putting a sign in a neighbouring business, there is no shortage of ingenious marketing tactics out there. 

Do plenty of research and consider which strategies would work best for your business. Since we eat with our eyes, prioritise visual content. Another great tactic is to set up a Google My Business page to improve your performance in search engines.

Stay on top of your finances

In many restaurants, the responsibility for financial management falls to the restaurant manager. The key to keeping track of your finances is diligence. Keep meticulous records of revenue and costs so you know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your restaurant.

Strong financial management is the key to quickly identifying a downturn in business and taking early steps to remedy it.

Restaurant manager training

If you are really committed to being the best manager you can be, there is a wide range of training you can undertake to reach your goals. This training is suitable whether you are a new restaurant manager, you are aspiring to the position or you have been doing it for years.

Consider online or in-person courses to cover areas such as:

  • Financial management
  • Regulatory management
  • Menu development
  • Human resource management
  • Culinary training

Restaurant management courses could be simple day-long courses run by small businesses or more intensive programs at tertiary institutions. Do plenty of research to ensure your money is well-spent on a course that is right for you.

Another source of education for restaurant managers could take the form of mentorship. So much of being a restaurant manager relies on intangible skills which can be most effectively acquired in this way.

You may be able to find a mentor within the management chain of your current workplace or elsewhere in the industry. Ask around in the local restaurant industry. Hopefully, you will be able to find an expert who is eager to take you under their wing.

How ResDiary can help you manage your restaurant

No matter how accomplished you are as a restaurant manager, you cannot do it without some help. Securing the perfect software can be crucial to helping you succeed in your role.

ResDiary offers extensive table management software, making bookings a breeze for your customers and staff. Additionally, it offers over 60 integrations from leading hospitality software providers, helping out with everything from EPOS functionality to loyalty programs and more.

To find out more about how restaurant management technology from ResDiary can boost your business, book a free, personalised demo today.