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Restaurant Consultant Duties and Responsibilities

While a restaurant consultant's day-to-day activities depend on their clients and where they work, there are several core tasks associated with this role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Develop Business Strategies Restaurant consultants initially conduct in-depth observations of restaurant clients and engage in market research, taking note of competitors and target demographics. This gives them the background knowledge needed to develop business strategies, which they convey through detailed, multipage reports that include analysis and forecasting as well as concept development.

Recommend Menu Selections Once they establish an agreement with owners on the desired branding, restaurant consultants move on to menu curation. When recommending menu selections, they consider various criteria such as marketability, ease of presentation, production cost, quality and authenticity, and price points.

Optimize Management It's the job of restaurant consultants to assess the operations of a restaurant and provide solutions to increase efficiency and drive down costs. Part of the process is preparing sales and profit projections, usually covering up to a year ahead, and setting strategic budgets. They may also help with marketing and social media and suggest software tools.

Evaluate Restaurant Design A major priority for restaurants is a well-designed kitchen that's conducive to efficient food preparation. Restaurant consultants evaluate the kitchen layout and assist with selecting equipment and fulfilling requirements for electrical and plumbing systems. In addition to this, they inspect service areas for cleanliness, aesthetics, and ambience.

Improve Hiring and Training Clients may call on restaurant consultants to improve their employee hiring and training process, especially when following new business strategies. Restaurant consultants can streamline any step of the hiring process, from crafting precise job descriptions to interviewing. On a larger scale, they may reshape company culture through training programs.


Restaurant Consultant Skills and Qualifications

Restaurant consultants combine business acumen with a knack for restaurant operations. Although they work independently, they are good communicators who thoroughly understand client requirements. Employers look for restaurant consultants with experience, industry training, and the following skills:
  • Restaurant expertise - in order to give advice to restaurant owners and produce concrete results within a short period of time, restaurant consultants must have deep familiarity with the restaurant industry, preferably having previous experience with the client's niche
  • Problem-solving skills - upon spotting issues and areas needing improvement, restaurant consultants come up with flexible action plans that minimize costs and account for obstacles
  • Strategic planning - the decisions that restaurant consultants make have a significant impact on the company, so they must practice long-term thinking and factor in several variables to form a good picture of how the business works as a whole
  • Observation skills - restaurant consultants should be detail oriented and attentive, as much of the information they work with comes from firsthand observation of everything from customer reactions to kitchen staff workflow
  • Collaboration - it's imperative for restaurant consultants to have good working relationships with restaurant owners and staff. They must respect their client's vision and preferences and take them into consideration when proposing changes

Restaurant Consultant Education and Training

Restaurant consultants typically have a four-year bachelor's degree in hospitality, restaurant management, or a culinary field, and many build on this with a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration. Beyond educational credentials, employers look for candidates with more than five years of experience in a restaurant setting. In fact, the best restaurant consultants possess a track record of driving restaurant success and may even be restaurant owners themselves. On-the-job training is minimal, although it's necessary for them to go through orientation when getting to know client restaurants.

Restaurant Consultant Salary and Outlook

According to PayScale, restaurant consultants have a median annual salary of $56,000. Those in the lowest 10 percent may make less than $35,000 annually, while those in the highest 10 percent make more than $81,000 per year. The job outlook for restaurant consultants is optimistic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that demand for management analysts, who have similar duties to restaurant consultants, is growing because companies are eager to improve, especially given the competitive business landscape. In addition, dining out is becoming increasingly popular, and more restaurants and food establishments are predicted to open.

Helpful Resources

Read through our list of resources to learn more about becoming a restaurant consultant:

Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy's Guide to Opening the Next New Hot Spot - written by an accountant turned successful

restaurant owner, this book describes how to use financial data to make important decisions and build a thriving restaurant. Restaurant consultants can check it out for guidance on budgets, sales forecasts, and operating costs

Foodservice Consultants Society International - FCSI is a worldwide organization that caters to consultants in foodservice and hospitality. Its website features content that's thoughtfully categorized by region, encompassing food industry news, event announcements, and interviews with innovators and influencers

Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used - this is a must-read for consultants, as it encourages recognizing the strengths of clients and tackles common challenges, such as collaborating digitally and handling disagreements

National Restaurant Association - described as the largest global trade association for foodservice professionals, NRA offers extremely comprehensive educational material, including high-level articles about business trends, policy summaries, white papers, and career information

Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Reactions - Jon Taffer, a popular figure in the culinary world, explains how to elicit the right emotional reactions in customers, using lively anecdotes, industry research, and actionable strategies to demonstrate the process

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