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What does a Deli Manager do?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

A deli manager is traditionally expected to sell quality food items in a clean and appealing customer-friendly environment. She is normally required to maintain appropriate inventory levels as well as train and supervise her staff. Promoting sales through special offers and creative merchandising is commonly expected. She may work in an independent deli or in a department of a supermarket dedicated to preparing and selling prepared deli items as well as bulk meats and cheeses.

An efficiently run deli can be extremely profitable whether it stands alone or as part of a grocery store. The skills of the manager greatly affect the deli's success. If she maintains a spotless and friendly environment and offers fresh, high-quality food items at reasonable prices, high profits and a dedicated clientele normally follow.

Her fresh and diverse inventory of common and exotic meats and cheeses normally increases a deli manager’s chances of success and profitability. Hiring, managing, and motivating a friendly staff is important. Making sure her staff is able to answer customer inquiries and make suggestions for complementary items and side dishes normally increases sales.

Besides making sure her inventory and staff are top notch, a deli manager is typically required to keep all the equipment in working order and properly maintained. If a slicer, mixer or other food preparation tool is not correctly cared for, it can pose health risks through contamination or create a safety risk if the parts are not properly cleaned and stored. The manager should have a good and clear understanding of local and state safety and food handling guidelines as well.

Knowing the tastes and habits of her regular customers gives the manager an advantage. Placing special orders to meet customer tastes in meats or cheeses is a good public relations move. Knowing what local or community events might benefit from a special dish from the deli counter may help build good will and a solid customer base.

The behind-the-scenes duties of a deli manager are as important to her success as her public relations and personnel management skills. She is commonly required to compile weekly sales reports and devise ways to sell more of the items with the highest profit margins. Reducing overhead costs while maintaining quality standards is another typical goal.

A high school diploma or equivalent is normally required for this position, and food industry experience is desirable. In recent years, many delis, especially ones that are part of large supermarket chains, require a bachelor’s degree to apply for a management position. A degree with concentration in supermarket or food management or business administration is preferred, although some companies offer internal training on food handling and personnel management.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By sunshined — On Nov 29, 2012

I take a lunch to work most of the time and eat a lot of sandwiches. I like to buy my meat at the deli instead of buying the pre-packaged deli meat. This way I know the meat is fresh and isn't full of preservatives.

I live in a small community, so our local deli stays pretty busy. When it is graduation time, you have to get your orders in pretty early. The meat and cheese trays are very popular.

A good deli manager knows this ahead of time, and does everything they can to make sure they have enough food to fill all the orders.

By golf07 — On Nov 29, 2012

I imagine one of the hardest things for a deli manager to accomplish is to make sure the food always looks fresh. Sometimes when I visit a deli later in the evening, the food doesn't look that appetizing. It looks like it has been sitting them for a long time, and it probably has. Most of the food that doesn't get eaten will probably get thrown away at the end of the night.

I realize this would be hard to make the food look like it is fresh and just prepared all of the time, but it is a lot easier to sell it when it does.

By LisaLou — On Nov 28, 2012

One of the biggest reasons I visit a deli is to buy the fried chicken. If I am wanting to take something to a potluck, this is a great choice. Most everyone loves fried chicken and I never have any left over to bring home. It is so much easier for the deli to make it than for me to do it at home.

Every time I buy this at the deli, they always ask me if I want to add on some side dishes. They aren't pushy about it, but I know it is part of their job. When I see all the side dishes displayed so well, it is hard to say no. I usually pick up a couple of sides to go along with the meat.

I like being able to go to a deli and have so many different food choices available. It is also nice if they have an option to eat it there or take it to go.

By Mykol — On Nov 28, 2012

One of our local supermarkets has a great deli. Sometimes we eat here several times a week. Every evening on the week nights, they have a deli special. It is cheaper for us to eat here than it would be to buy everything at the store and go home and fix it ourselves. This deli gets a lot of local business, and even though they are able to offer great specials, they are still making money.

By truman12 — On Nov 10, 2012

A friend of mine worked as a deli manager in a major grocery store for a number of years. He met a girl and moved to New York and now he makes really good money working for a specialty meats shop.

You wouldn't expect that working in a grocery store slicing endless pounds of turkey would lead to such an interesting job right in the heart of Manhattan.

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