Caterer career information

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Alan Hall is a restaurant manager for more than 62 establishments over a wide area of southern England – from Bristol to London. As a contract caterer, he manages restaurants located in office and manufacturing sites, providing breakfast, lunch and hospitality services.

What does your job involve?

Each restaurant is run on a day-to-day basis by local staff and supervised by the four operations managers I oversee. My role is more general and involves ensuring that food quality, marketing and merchandising standards are maintained, alongside the correct financial procedures. As general manager, I work within a senior company management team, including an operations director and joint managing directors.

Are you involved with training?

Together with my managers, I develop and implement training programmes based on staff appraisals and unit training plans. Apart from the obvious need to employ fully trained staff, we have to ensure that food health and safety regulations are observed at all the sites.

Do you have a typical day?

A typical day for me almost certainly involves travelling. I go to units with the operations managers; ensuring company standards are implemented. I also audit their stocks and accounts. I travel to client meetings to ensure that we are providing a satisfactory service and to deal with any problems. Apart from existing clients, we have to try to acquire new sites to expand the business, so I also visit prospective clients to give presentations, supporting the sales team.

How did you get into catering?

After college, I started work with a large corporate caterer. I moved to a contract caterer as assistant manager before moving to a larger contractor as deputy general manager. Initially, I joined Catermasters as an operations manager.

What hours do you work?

I spend Monday to Friday travelling from one restaurant to another – usually starting at 6.30am I work long hours as I am always available for emergency call-outs. What skills and qualities are needed? You need an understanding of people and how they work – clients, customers and staff, financial knowledge, good time management skills, and training and motivational ability.

Alan's route to becoming a Caterer

  • BTEC National Diploma in Hotel and Catering Management.
  • HND – Higher National Diploma in Hotel and Institutional Catering Management.
  • Advanced Food Hygiene course.
  • Wine and Spirit Trust Certificate.

Alan's Caterer career tips

  • Enjoy talking and working with people and understanding their needs.
  • In a service industry you must enjoy working with people.
  • Remember that the customer is always right.

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Salary of a Caterer

  • This depends upon the employer and the responsibilities involved.
  • For a junior site manager, the salary is likely to range from around £15,000 to £20,000.
  • With experience, the salary could rise to between £20,000 and £30,000 and senior managers can earn over £50,000.

Caterer career information

  • Starting with GCSEs/S grades or GNVQ/GSVQ in catering, courses are available at numerous colleges and universities for qualifications from NVQ/SVQ Level 1 to degrees in Hospitality and Catering.
  • It is a profession that demands a great deal of practical experience to support academic qualifications and you should try to obtain this as early as possible. Catering institutions, hotel groups and restaurants will offer modern apprenticeships and should be approached.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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