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Advancing To the Higher Level at a Restaurant

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Going from being an hourly worker in a fast food restaurant to the management level is a big step. While it is true that hourly workers need to work hard and show initiative in doing tasks that need to be done, they are also assigned to definite jobs throughout their shifts. In other words, someone is telling them what they are to do most of the time. The people, who are seeing that each worker does the proper job for a restaurant to run smoothly, plus keeping track of all the supplies, sales, and hundreds of details involved in successfully operating a restaurant, are the assistant managers and the managers.

A tremendous number of responsibilities come with these two positions. They may be assigning 70 or more workers to staff different positions in a restaurant that opens as early as 6:00 A.M. and doesn't close until 2:00 or 3:00 A.M. on the weekends, or even a restaurant that never closes its doors. Furthermore, it is quite possible that they have to be keeping track of money that will add up to more than a million dollars a year in sales within just one restaurant. Basically, the responsibility for the successful operation of a restaurant rests on the shoulders of the assistant managers and the manager. There are few jobs today in America in which a young person can hold such a responsible position. Many assistant managers and managers are in their mid-to-late 20s. Some are even younger.

Typically, a restaurant will have a manager, sometimes called a general manager, and one or more assistant managers who may have different titles. A restaurant that does not have a large volume of sales may not have any assistant managers. A restaurant with huge sales may have both second assistant managers and first assistant managers. Assistant managers tend to be full-time employees; however, they can still be part-time workers at this level. In many fast food chains, assistant managers are salaried employees, but in others this position is an hourly one. Managers almost always receive salaries.

Becoming an Assistant Manager

People don't just become fast food restaurant managers; they have usually spent time as assistant managers first. And there isn't just one way to become assistant manager of a restaurant. In fact, there are several routes to this position. As a rule, people become assistant managers in one of two ways. They either begin as hourly workers and work their way up through a variety of levels to the assistant manager spot, or they are recruited from two-year or four-year colleges for a management training program.

Since there is considerable labor turnover at the present time at the assistant manager level, outstanding hourly workers may at times skip over several hourly levels or spend a very brief time in these positions before becoming assistant managers. Also, fast food workers with several years of part-time experience as shift leaders in one fast food chain sometimes move to another chain and become assistant managers.

Hourly workers intending to have a career in fast foods should make sure when they choose their first job that the chain or restaurant they select has a policy of promoting people from within to the managerial level. This will give them a good idea of what their opportunities for advancement are. More and more firms are taking this approach of grooming their own managers. White Castle, as mentioned earlier, promotes only from within. Pizza Hut has a strong policy of promoting from within. Most of the major companies can be expected to hire at least 40 percent of their managerial staff from within. Some companies, however, recruit most of their assistant managers from colleges.

Criteria for Selection

All hourly workers do not advance to the management level in fast food restaurants, nor are all college applicants automatically hired as assistant managers, even if their studies were in the restaurant or hospitality area. Besides having strong work or academic backgrounds, successful applicants for the position of assistant manager need to have the following qualifications:
  • An ability to supervise and train employees.

  • An ability to deal effectively with customers and to recognize their special needs.

  • The skill to meet the administrative requirements of the position.

  • A willingness to follow standard company operating procedures and policies.

  • The ability to know the proper response to problems.

  • A strong desire to succeed.

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