Skills for Successful Long-Term Careers in Food Management

Posted by Patrick Maness +

Building a career in the foodservice industry can take time. Much of the training takes place on the job. Skills build upon skills, and through a process of advancement you can work your way into higher positions until you're managing the place.

On the other hand, plenty of people enter the foodservice and hospitality business after first earning a degree — sometimes even a master’s degree — in hotel or food management.

No matter your background, careers in food and hospitality share similar challenges and rewards. The following tips and strategies can help you keep the passion and fire burning during the course of your career.

  • Mix creativity with logistics and other practical matters. Even if you have a system that works smoothly and efficiently, remain open to suggestions and continually think of ways to change and improve processes. Remember, the biggest danger in any job is stagnation.
  • Whether it’s with a vendor, employee or customer, communication is the cornerstone of a career as a foodservice manager. Always try to improve and build new ways to interact, serve and work with people.
  • Stay up to date on the latest trends. Not only is it good for business to keep your operation relevant, but it’s also exciting. And on a personal level, making yourself aware of what’s going on in the industry is a way to keep yourself thinking. Ask your employees to keep an ear to the ground as well; they can be a great source of information and ideas.
  • Transform your mistakes, and your employees' mistakes, into learning opportunities. Not only is this a good way to keep a positive attitude, but the fact is, no one has yet figured out the formula to running a restaurant perfectly. Oftentimes it’s a work in progress. As you gain experience, though, your managerial skills will become more refined — and so will your employees.
  • Never stop learning. Even if you’re managing, learn about the menu items, the ingredients, the wines and everything that’s going on in the restaurant. This will keep you involved and growing.
  • Maintain your relationships. This means with everyone: Manufacturer reps, sales reps, your food suppliers, owners, guests and employees. This career is about people, and cultivating relationships is one of its biggest rewards.
  • Remember the world outside of the restaurant! This is a hard job that involves long, labor-intensive hours. By nature, most managers are hardworking individuals who need to be reminded to take time off and take care of themselves. It’s crucial for keeping your stamina and energy running high!

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