At the top of event-related catering positions is the catering manager, who is responsible for the performance and profitability of the entire department, from the kitchen to the service staff. It can be a demanding position without a good team of supervisors, but one that pays well and provides a number of advancement opportunities for long-term career growth.
Requirements and Salary
There are several key areas of experience needed to perform well as a catering manager. A background in food and beverage is essential, but beyond that, candidates should have experience working with high volume operations. There is a big difference between serving 500 dinners throughout the evening in a restaurant setting, and serving 500 dinners at one time in a large banquet room. This is where restaurant managers face the biggest challenge in transitioning to catering.
Personnel management is another important skill since the catering manager is ultimately responsible for the entire catering staff. Being able to identify, recruit, and hire good managers is crucial to handling the significant challenges of staff management. Without a solid management team in place, the catering manager will spend too much time addressing personnel problems.
On the corporate side, catering managers are required to report on the profits and costs of their department. This involves merging cost and inventory reports from the kitchen, banquet, and sales departments into one document. General Managers and corporate accountants will reviews these reports to measure the effectiveness of the catering manager.
Requirements for this position include a bachelor’s degree and more than 5 years of experience in either a comparable position or high volume food service. Management and sales reporting experience is a big plus. Catering manager salaries typically range from $45,000 to $60,000 per year with a corporate benefit package. Performance incentives and sales bonuses are offered at most properties.
In short, this position oversees the quality and performance of the entire catering department. This is done by directly supervising the kitchen, banquet, and sales managers, who regularly meet together to discuss new ideas, potential problems and new hires.
In addition to managing staff, the catering manager also compares and selects outside vendors who serve the department’s food, linens and temporary staff needs. Capital equipment and inventory is also managed at this level, with the catering manager having the final say on all new equipment purchases.
Perhaps the most important duty is to meet the department’s performance expectations set forth by the corporate office. Monthly and annual reports need to clearly outline sales and expenditures to show a bottom line profit. It is this profit (or loss) that shapes corporate’s perception of the catering manager’s productivity.
The best catering mangers show consistent profit growth while maintaining client satisfaction. Individuals who excel in these areas will be given the most consideration for advancement to new positions or larger operations. The position of General Manger is the next step up for catering mangers. However, most will need to prove their effectiveness at one or two incrementally larger venues before landing a GM position.
It is important to note that while catering management might sound like it is related to the restaurant industry, it is in fact a very different career. While there are plenty of cases where individuals have made the successful transition between the two industries, the faster track for growth is to stay committed to either banquet or restaurant food service.