Food service facilities include corporate cafeterias, family restaurants, coffee shops, and diners. Their collective industry was worth almost a trillion dollars a year prior to the pandemic, but they’re still a major sector of the economy.
Businesses such as these count on professionals known as food service managers or FSMs. These managers help:
- Control costs
- Keep consumers happy
- Make sure operations run smoothly every day
These might sound like obvious roles of food service managers, but what do they actually do? Why are they so very crucial to restaurant operations?
An FSM is at the very heart of any food service environment. They have daily responsibilities that might include:
- Organizing available resources
- Administrative duties
- Ensuring health and safety guidelines and compliance
- Training employees on procedures and equipment
- Scheduling shifts
- Assigning duties for full coverage while minimizing costs
- Putting in orders for supplies, including paper goods and ingredients
- Monitoring employee performance against quality standards
- Dealing with customer feedback or problems
- Handling daily cash and transactions
- Recording payroll data
- Inspecting all areas for safety and cleanliness
FSMs will also have different duties based on the restaurant that they work in. A bigger dining area or establishment might have multiple managers working in concert. Each one might only have purview over a certain area of daily operations. The recruitment, interviewing, and hiring of employees might only fall to one manager.
Premium facilities might even have their own executive chef in charge of all food-related matters of a business. In cases like these, FSMs would focus more on dining room issues, such as managing wait staff and customer experience. While food service managers might have different job descriptions, they certainly are essential to any commercial dining facility having appropriate functions.
Food service managers use a diverse set of skills. On the one hand, they need interpersonal skills for customer satisfaction and employee morale. On the other hand, they need organizational skills that keep operating costs as low as possible.
A typical restaurant only operates for about five years. There are many variables involved in this. However, restaurants are similar to many other businesses in how effective management practices are in influencing how things go.
One reason food service managers are so important is because of their control over food costs. FSMs help a business be profitable in many different ways on this front alone. They can educate employees about how to serve and prepare food appropriately. They also maintain a mindful inventory of all things needed, and they get these from a variety of suppliers to get the necessary supplies in cost-effective ways.
Customer opinions can wind up determining the fate of any restaurant. Problems are inevitable to even the best operations, and FSMs have to then use their interpersonal skills to navigate damage control. The best FSMs turn unhappy customers into repeat business.
Those same interpersonal skills matter with staff, that can include waitstaff, cooks, bussers, and cleaners. There might even be other managers. All of these people require direction, coordination, scheduling, and paychecks. However, they also need motivation.
The real goal of any FSM is keeping everyone happy. That means employees, customers, and ownership.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is tasked with tracking average earnings across many career paths. They say that a typical FSM makes around $25 an hour. Those in the industry with experience, formal education, and proven skill can easily double that.
FSMs work in:
- Private and corporate dining halls
- Entertainment venues
- Schoola and hospital cafeterias
Most FSMs have to start from entry-level positions where they pay their dues and improve their skills. Degree programs are available to those who want to jump-start their careers. Accredited training programs enhance someone’s natural abilities and teach them leadership, management, and administrative skills ahead of the curve.
Food service managers are crucial to the success of any kitchen or restaurant. While many professionals or employees working in such environments might only have to focus on a single role, be it waiting tables, cleaning dishes, or cooking, an FSM has to have both organizational skills and interpersonal abilities.
The organizational skills include scheduling enough staff to handle demand without overspending payroll while also ordering enough ingredients and supplies to maintain operations without blowing the budget. Interpersonal skills aren’t just used to diffuse unhappy customer situations but make them all happy enough to come back while also motivating the paid team for collaborative success.
Restaurants and eating out are in demand, because people need to eat multiple times a day and don’t often have the time or energy to cook for themselves. An FSM career is fast-paced, profitable, and in-demand.