What to look for in a General Manager by Cheryl Gardner, Restaurant Consultant

What to look for in a General Manager

Hiring a strong General Manager can be a difficult process and finding the right person can be critical to the success of a restaurant. When looking for a GM, there are a number of things to consider first that will help you understand who your truecandidate is.

Can they represent the concept and brand?

It is essential to look for a candidate that will be a good fit with the concept, company culture, and brand. It is imperative your General Manager is fully “bought in” to the concept and brand so they can properly represent it and can develop a sense of personal commitment to the core values and culture of the restaurant. The result – the highly effective management style of managing the brand to manage its people.

Are they humble?

Is the candidate humble or driven by ego? It is necessary to flush this out in the interview process, as you need to ensure the candidates’ ego is in check, or you risk having your General Manager putting themselves in front of the brand. This can lead to a skewed decision-making process and can become a liability for the business.

Do they possess strong leadership qualities?

It is critical your candidate possesses well-developed leadership qualities. They must lead by example and not have a “do as I say and not what I do” attitude. The General Manager is ultimately responsible for the performance of every team member in the environment, they will need to demonstrate that they are a positive upbeat leader that can get what the business needs from each and every team member. They also need to demonstrate that they can manage a strong training program, can take corrective action with team members that are not performing well and can fire team members that are not meeting the standards of the brand.

Are they fiscally responsible?

It is essential your General Manager has good exposure to managing a budget. This would include all of your controllables such as labour management to inventory processes and Cost of Goods Sold management. They must have the ability to drive revenue and must be innovative and proactive to meet and exceed these goals. Your General Manager candidate must have a proven track record of success in driving sales and managing costs.

Do they understand the philosophy and metrics behind providing great service?

It is imperative your candidate has a full understanding of the philosophy and metrics behind providing great service. A General Manager that makes great business decisions is one that sets a cultural platform as to what all team members make decisions based on. Can they drive a guest first culture and ensure they are always making decisions based on what’s best for the restaurant guests? This will result in excellent business decisions, as the restaurant guests are the restaurants greatest assets.

Do you have a good level of trust in them?

Most importantly, it is equally important you have a good level of trust with the General Manager candidate. You will need to ensure the candidate is completely open and transparent. A candidate that you sense is withholding information or not able to openly communicate, may be hiding something and may have a fear of being exposed. Do a thorough reference check on your General Manager candidate, trust your gut feeling and ensure you feel really good about your hire.


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