The Benefits of Investing in Talented General Managers
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Finding the right general manager (GM) can be a challenging task, yet businesses that view investing in employees as an unnecessary expense often pay for it down the road. As a restaurant owner or operator, you understand the importance of finding the right GM. They are arguably the most important leaders in the restaurant industry, because they are the most closely connected to staff members and customers. GMs make decisions that influence the entire organization and must consistently deliver top-of-the-line service.

Identifying the right GM is also the best way to reduce employee turnover, which can be costly and operationally disruptive. Finding – and keeping – high performing GMs can help your business avoid unnecessary costs, ensure high-performance among frontline employees and most importantly, keep your customers happy.

Creating a company-wide impact

Talented GMs offer productivity and customer-centricity that impact every facet of your business. Ben Brock, restaurant operator and partner with 4Top Hospitality states, “It all starts with general managers. They set the bar for everyone else. General managers keep employees happy, and employees keep customers happy.”

While it’s your responsibility to ensure that GMs are equipped to lead effectively, it’s also important to offer training opportunities and take the necessary time to set every employee up for success. An executive at a large QSR operator comments, “If you orient and train your staff for growth, people will stay.” Allow your GMs to lead the training sessions that show servers, hostesses and bussers why their success is important to the company. Be sure all levels of staff are given clear responsibilities and expectations for how to do their jobs. You want to make sure they get the adequate training to feel confident in their positions.

Having a good GM makes others want to stick around. Keeping a highly-effective GM for the long run is the ultimate goal, but often, despite your best efforts, even your favorite managers will choose to look outside the organization for their next opportunity. Knowing that they have already done the hard work of investing in future leaders around them is a significant benefit. You never know who might make a good GM if your current one is not providing opportunities for all employees to demonstrate their leadership skills.

Finding the right GM

Restaurant operators are often looking to fill a position quickly, and they don’t spend sufficient time vetting each candidate’s fit for the job. This is why hiring from within the company proves to be a smart move.

The QSR operator executive notes, “Promoting from within is always better. That’s why training matters so much. If you can show people the rewards and benefits of training, and a path to promotions, dedication and loyalty to the brand will follow.”

Identifying employees with management potential who are already familiar with your organization’s operations and culture makes finding the right GM a much easier process. If you have to recruit from outside of your organization, it’s important to note that paying for a talented GM might come with a larger price tag. It’s not always easy to pry a strong candidate from a competitor, so you might have to spend more than expected.

If you do have to look outside your organization, Brock advises using a trusted network to find the right candidate. He says, “The best way to hire a general manager is through using the resources and people you have internally. It’s best to hire someone a manager or employee has worked with in the past.”

Securing long-term GMs

Brock says, “The longer you have someone on your team, the better they understand and represent your culture.”

This is a secret recipe all restaurant operators are looking for – that your employees will become just as invested in your business as you are. Having a committed GM who has grown with your company, represents your culture and knows the ins and outs like no one else, is an invaluable asset to your business. This type of loyalty is rare and can take years to develop.

These high-performing GMs should be rewarded for their contributions to your success. Obviously, financial rewards are a great way to show them you value their commitment. Compensation beyond base pay, such as bonuses or equity opportunities, can be extremely motivating. If financial incentives aren’t an option, look for other valuable benefits, such as additional paid time off or professional development, to demonstrate your recognition of their value to the organization.

Keep in mind that when you are investing in a GM, you are investing in your company and its values. You are investing in someone who will influence the future leaders of your business. A successful GM can improve your operations, and more importantly, customer satisfaction, leading to a successful and strategically aligned organization.


This post originally appeared in Modern Restaurant Management Magazine and was written by Courtney Allen, Restaurant Management Practice Leader at Adams Keegan.