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The general manager of a restaurant plays several important roles. This person will be in charge of your daily operations, staffing, marketing, and even some aspects of your finances. When hiring a new general manager, look for a candidate who can handle all of these responsibilities. Begin the hiring process by making a checklist of the qualifications you’re looking for. These four essential qualities should help you get started.

1. Money Matters

Your general manager will be your eyes and ears during regular restaurant operations. That means they’ll be responsible for making some snap decisions about your finances. You’ll stay in charge of high level choices, like setting a marketing budget or choosing suppliers. However, they’ll be the one to send an employee to the store if your kitchen runs out of lettuce. They may also offer deals to customers as needed. For example, if a table’s food is 45 minutes late, they might send over a free dessert.

Make sure you hire a general manager who can be trusted with these decisions. Choose a candidate with budgeting experience, and give them clear guidelines about the operation of your restaurant. They should be able to make decisions on their own, while sticking to your overall business plan.


2. Remember the Restaurant

When you begin the search for a general manager, you may see many applicants with experience as managers in other industries. Although it’s possible that one of them will be a good fit, that would take an extremely special candidate. It’s more likely that your best option will be a person with years of experience in the restaurant industry.

The restaurant business has its own unique rhythm. Decisions need to be made quickly, nearly all your inventory is perishable, and daily operations are all about the flow. It can be hard to describe the culture of a restaurant to someone who’s new to the industry. Cut down on both training time and human error by hiring a general manager who already understands the needs of your business. In some cases, promoting a lower level manager may be your best option.


3. Person to Person

Nearly all of your other employees will report directly to the general manager. For that reason, it’s essential that you hire someone who’s good with people. It will be their job to resolve scheduling disputes, help out if a server misses a shift, and smooth over any issues in the kitchen. They’ll also need to coordinate staff trainings and enforce restaurant regulations, such as wearing uniforms or taking breaks. All of these processes will go more smoothly if your employees like and respect your manager.

The general manager will also need to interact directly with guests on many occasions. They’ll be called in to resolve any problems, of course, but that’s just the beginning. They may also need to pitch in if an employee calls in sick. That means they should be comfortable talking to guests about the menu, taking reservations, and making everyone feel welcome while they do it. The general manager should be warm but efficient. These qualities will improve both guest and employee loyalty.


4. Onward and Upward

The best employees are ones who can grow with you. For servers, this means hiring people who can handle busier and busier rush periods without losing their cool. In the kitchen, you’re looking for chefs whose innovations will continue to impress even the most regular guests. Your general manager also needs some unique qualities to ensure the continued success of your business.

As your restaurant grows, your general manager’s job description will expand with it. For instance, scheduling a staff of ten is quite different from scheduling a staff of 60. In addition to staffing, they’ll need to learn more about your growing finances and get to know more and more customers. Look for a person with drive and ambition who you trust to learn and grow alongside you over the years.

In any business, you set the company’s tone from the top down. This begins with you, and flows directly to your general manager. If you hire someone unqualified, the rest of your staff may begin to lose focus. It’s important to seek out a candidate with the right experience and also the right personality traits to fit in with your unique restaurant brand.

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