How to get into Contract Cateting General Management

Tips on becoming a Contract Catering General Manager

Contract caterers are companies that offer legal agreements between themselves and a client to supply food and refreshments for a specified period. Clients can be based in all sorts of places, be it city offices, schools or sports venues; meaning that standards can reach as high as to rival with some Michelin-star restaurants.

A lot of people working long hours and weekends decide they want to make the move to what are arguably the most sociable working hours in the hospitality industry. With some roles working the traditional 9-5, office hours or even earlier in the education sector.

Firstly we will explore what IS a contract catering general manager (GM)? Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer, due to the nature of the unit you may be catering for, here are some key responsibilities that a GM will come across:

  • Building a strong working relationship with the client
  • Managing the catering contract
  • Meeting the client’s needs as well as your financial targets
  • Leading your F&B team and setting standards
  • Liaising with the client
  • Monitoring the quality of the food and service
  • Recruiting and training staff – depending on the type of contract

While contract catering is not always the easiest of industry’s to walk into, we are here to give you some tips on how to understand and get into a contract catering GM role.

Background Experience

The best way to step into a GM role is to sidestep from commercial restaurants or bars or hotels at a managerial level. You may have to step down from a manager role to a junior manager since different clientele will bring different challenges. But once you have some practical contract catering experience behind you, you will find yourself rapidly progressing through the ranks.

Office and corporate experience is also desired, as you would need to will not only be working on-site but also within accounts, HR and health and safety.

Background experience in formal dining is similarly a bonus. Working as a waiter/waitress within catering events can help you to understand the core service that is required from a caterer. 

Whilst you can work your way up, qualifications in hotel/ catering/ hospitality management can help fast track your progression.

Skills that you might need

Know your finances – You’ll have to know how to price a menu and hit financial targets to manage a successful profitable unit.  

Confidence and Communication – You will need to be able to make decisions and guide your team in the direction that works for both your catering company and the client you are working for.

Personal Presentation – Being a fiercely corporate market, you will need to be able to present yourself in a way that appeases both your employer and your client.  GM’s should be mindful that an interview is not only with the company but also with the client that they are providing a service for.

Leadership – You’ll be the once running the unit yourself (with some head office help), so being able to lead others in the right direction is crucial for success.

If you have a similar background and think that you can deliver some of these skills, give us a call and we can use our many reputable connections to place you in a great role. If you do not possess any of these experiences and qualities, we are here to help guide you in the right direction – you may shock yourself and find your next career break!