There are so many different factors you have to take into consideration when deciding what’s economical for your restaurant. Cost savings and overall expense can be easy to overlook where scheduling comes into play, but how you schedule your staff (your scheduling process and your choices for each shift) can make a big difference to your business success over time.
From service to food quality, scheduling your restaurant staff has critical repercussions on your day-to-day business — and ultimately your bottom line.
So much of the financial aspect of scheduling comes down to figuring out the right amount of people needed for each role in each shift. And yes, overstaffing obviously can have a real impact. Putting too many employees on a shift when the shift needed less means you’ll be paying more in wages than you need to for that particular day. This type of efficiency is critical for maintaining a reasonable budget for wages.
On top of that, staff members who make most of their money off of tips don’t want to be in an overstaffed shift because they will need to share the limited number of tables available with more servers. Remember, employee turn over gets expensive, so you really don’t want your employees to have an active reason to want to leave.
Avoid understaffing, too
Believe it or not, understaffing can also lose you just as much money in the long run. Not only can understaffing hinder your employees from providing top notch efficient service (potentially leading to dissatisfied or walkout customers), but consistently understaffing shifts can lead to your employees overcompensating.
Trying to do too much during any one shift can lead to staff members burning out and even becoming resentful of management. Think about what your morale was like in jobs where you felt overworked and underappreciated. That in turn can lead to good employees finding other jobs, which will force you to spend even more money and time hiring new people. Again, turn over should be treated as another expense, one that you want to keep to a minimum.
Put the right people in each shift
It’s not just about getting the right number of employees into each shift. It’s also about the right number of staff members into certain roles, which applied to both the front and back of house. For instance, if you have tiers of kitchen staff from line cook to sous chef, you’ll need someone in each of those roles for every shift in order for the kitchen to run smoothly.
It’s a smart idea to schedule newer servers on a shift with more seasoned servers to help them if they get in the weeds. But when it comes to more specialized roles in your restaurant, consider cross training your team. It will give you more flexibility as a manager when it comes to scheduling those roles.
This again comes down to efficiency — you want the right people in the right roles at the right time, so that the shift runs smoothly and every customer leaves happy.
Offer interactive scheduling
In the past, coordinating employee schedules was a job in and of itself. The time it took to keep track of all employee shift requests, days they marked off, and what was needed from management’s perspective was exhausting.
Luckily, technology has evolved with scheduling software now available to eliminate so many of those frustrations. While there are many different scheduling software options out there (and you’ll have to do some research to find the one that works for your business), the idea is to streamline employee shift and time-off requests so everything is entered electronically and instantly available to you for review.
This kind of software also makes it easy for employees to log in and see their schedule whenever they want (or have it sync with their phone’s calendar). That way, there’s less anxiety and risk for them of forgetting their schedule, and less stress for you about employees accidentally missing their shifts.
A solid scheduling program can also point out scheduling conflicts, which can be very helpful for restaurants juggling multiple locations. This allows management to easily check exactly who will be where and when they’ll be there. It avoids the communication challenges that comes with manual scheduling.
While using this software won’t completely solve employee scheduling frustrations, it does remove a lot of the human error in having to keep track of all scheduling manually. The end result is less confusion for all parties involved, which leads to more shifts properly staffed and a less stressed workforce. Ultimately, this kind of software is an investment, but implementing it in your restaurant could streamline your scheduling, saving you time and money for the long run.
Consider predictive scheduling
The restaurant industry is rather notorious as a whole for either scheduling employees only days before the shift, or scheduling ahead of time and then changing it all around at the last minute. Doing either can inject unnecessary stress into your shifts and your staff, causing them to feel unappreciated — sometimes even before their shift starts.
Some states like California and Illinois have started introducing legislation pushing formal predictive scheduling initiatives for retail businesses and restaurants. They would have a restaurant set all work schedules in writing at least two weeks in advance or incur fees if changed within less than 24 hours of the shift time.
While there are major challenges for this kind of program for restaurants — given the unpredictability of the industry on a week-to-week basis — the root of the idea is worth considering. After all, holding management to higher standards when it comes to scheduling and respecting your workers’ time could be a real morale boost for your employees. It could also cut down on the confusion that comes with last minute schedule changes.
However, this kind of system would require you to really consider the ebb and flow of your business to understand what to expect and to plan your schedules accordingly. Take a look at your sales history and overall financial situation to understand what to expect.
Implement hour tracking software
Past scheduling, having software that tracks the hours your employees work is important toward maintaining the efficiency of your schedules. The time of the analogue punch clock is over. Modern tracking technology has options to be used on your computer, phone, or tablet.
Some tracking software also can provide regular analytics and reports on your employees’ hours, even breaking it down by location and role. This can all be very useful to you as an employer, but like finding the perfect employee, it’s important to shop around and find the right software that works for your business.
Speaking of finding the right employee, we have tips to get you off on the right track. Check out our free eBook on “Restaurant Hiring: How to Find the Perfect Employee” today:
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