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Catering Manager

Catering Manager

Tell me about it
Although the job title does not have a specific definition, catering managers mostly work for outside catering firms, business or factory canteens, hospitals or schools. Their job can include hiring, training and motivating staff, organising staff rotas, overseeing the budget and ordering supplies for forthcoming menus.

Food service management companies are now developing their services to include catering for members of the public in such outlets as leisure centres, department stores, airports, railways stations, public events and places of entertainment.

Alternatively, a catering manager could work in one specific restaurant, hotel or other food outlet, in which case they might be termed a restaurant manager.

The most important part of the job is achieving good quality at low cost and maintaining high standards of hygiene and customer satisfaction. Catering managers do this by keeping a constant eye on the standard of the ingredients, the meals, the restaurant environment and the service.

Entry level
Some restaurant and catering managers start as waiters or waitresses, chefs or cooks, counter service assistants or kitchen assistants. For these jobs, no formal qualifications are necessary, although some employers might expect you to have some GCSEs/S grades (A*-E/1-5), especially in English and maths.
Opportunities exist at every level, with a range of training routes for school leavers or university graduates. Relevant previous experience or qualifications usually ensure that you are able to join the profession a few rungs higher on the career ladder.
You could go into the business straight from school, perhaps via an Apprenticeship or a craft course, and develop your career up to a managerial position. Alternatively, you could continue your studies to higher national diploma (HND), foundation degree or degree level or you could join a company management training scheme.

A one- or two-year full-time college qualification in catering and hospitality can be a good start, and a second language could prove useful.

Making the grade
Most entry-level positions are at supervisory or assistant manager level. Ideally, you should aim for a first post that offers good all-round experience as well as a training programme, which will stand you in good stead as you progress within the industry.

Previous relevant work experience is often a requirement, and this type of employment is usually easy to find. Most people who enter the profession have started out by doing part-time or seasonal work in catering outlets such as pubs, restaurants and fast food outlets at weekends and during university holidays.

While working, you may study part time for qualifications such as the Institute of Hospitality Diplomas in Hospitality and Tourism Management (QCF levels 3 and 4, Scotland levels 7 and 8).

With around a third of restaurants owned by groups, there is scope for promotion, which could lead to the management of a regional area for a chain of hotels or restaurants. There are also opportunities to move into hotel or leisure management.

Personal qualities
As a catering manager, you would need to be a good motivator and leader, good at thinking quickly and sorting out problems on the spot, and able to stay calm in a crisis.

You must have an appreciation of customer expectations and commercial demands, the stamina to work long hours and the ability to work under stress.

A smart personal appearance would be essential, together with good communication skills and the flexibility to cope with fraying tempers in a hot kitchen.

Looking ahead
An increasing number of catering managers are needed for jobs in business and industry, schools and colleges, the health service and the armed forces. With the right experience behind them, many catering managers start their own contract catering businesses.

There is a concentration of catering management opportunities in London and the south east of England, but there is no shortage of potential work in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include training as a chef, conference and events manager, hotel manager or leisure services manager.

Take-home pay
A junior restaurant or catering manger could earn between £16,000 and £23,000.
With experience, a manager’s salary could rise to between £25,000 and £40,000.  Some senior managers would receive in the region of £50,000 to £70,000.  You may be offered live-in accommodation in some restaurant manager posts. If you can set up and run your own successful restaurant or catering business, you should be able to achieve higher financial rewards.

Effects
Working in catering management often involves shift work and unsocial and long hours, which can impact on your personal life. There are, however, catering service operations within business, industry and institutions, in which you would be more likely to work normal office hours.

If you are managing a restaurant, the job usually involves working in the evenings - often staying until after the restaurant is closed - and at weekends and public holidays. Your time off would usually be organised on a shift system.

Sources of information
Institute of Hospitality: www.instituteofhospitality.org
UKSP: www.uksp.co.uk 
Springboard: http://springboarduk.net 
British Hospitality Association: www.bha.org.uk




 

 

 

 

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