Many things about operating a restaurant can be stressful, but employee scheduling might be the worst. That can take up a lot of your week, eating into the time you need to track sales, calculate inventory, and just try to squeak out a profit. Some days will have more customers than usual, and employees will call out sick. Fortunately, you can avoid both understaffing and overstaffing with the right schedule handling.
5 Effective Ways a Dining Business Can Handle Scheduling
Scheduling your team means giving everyone enough hours, honoring time-off requests, and making sure every position is filled. Juggling all that might seem like a circus act, but there are five effective tricks you can use to accomplish all of this:
Crosstraining: If you are short one server on a busy night, your lines can back up, and customers might leave before they are seated. If you have a food runner, cook, busser, cashier, or even a manager cross-trained to wait tables, then they can fill in immediately without calling anyone else in.
Encourage Early Time-Off Requests: Late requests set up scheduling conflicts and destabilize the operations of your dining business. When employees can submit availability and time-off requests to you digitally, it's easier to manage everything.
Have Employees On-Call: Special events and even weather conditions can make your diner or restaurant busier or slower than usual. Cater to possible slow times by under-scheduling a bit but having someone on-call to fill in, especially if they're cross-trained in multiple positions.
Balance the Staff: Most restaurants need a proper mix of upfront personnel balanced with those in the kitchen, office, and dish room. Consider the experience of your staff, and streamline the hierarchy each shift.
Advance Scheduling: Try to schedule two weeks in advance. It's great for your employees to plan their lives around, and it's also mandatory in some jurisdictions.
Restaurant Scheduling Software
According to Synergysuite.com, a provider of scheduling software for restaurants, “You need great restaurant scheduling software! Save time, streamline operations, and reduce labor costs with a restaurant scheduling system that holds everything in one place, across all of your locations.”
The cost of restaurant scheduling software can vary. However, the benefits can be well worth it. If you find the right package and learn how to use it, there are many advantages you can find useful. For starters, you won't spend as much time actually managing schedules. Automated schedule creation can work on historical patterns and forecasted sales for multiple locations.
Communication improvements happen when you get overtime alerts and digital team requests.
Payroll accuracy can also improve thanks to things like biometric clocking and a dedicated clocking app. You can compare labor costs to hourly sales while also utilizing payroll integration.
Accurate timekeeping will also ensure compliance with labor laws. That includes making sure everyone gets the breaks they are supposed to get at the mandatory intervals and lengths. You can even create custom checklists that are specific to the needs and circumstances of your business.
Retain Customers And Staff
There's a lot of stress involved with being a restaurant manager. Even if you step back from the daily or hourly details of your work, you have to look at the big picture. You don't want to lose customers, but you also don't want to lose staff. Training new employees can be expensive. Food-service turnover rates can easily hit 100% or higher. You'll keep your team longer if you pay attention to their scheduling needs.
Give them enough hours, but also give them the time off they need to live their lives, be it work, school, or just resting. Crosstraining can possibly provide new skills and career advancement options. While you want to give everyone enough hours for their paychecks to be useful to them, you also don't want to overburden them. Employees might be more productive if they get their two days a week off back to back instead of splitting up.
You don't have to use sticky notes or a whiteboard for your schedule. In fact, it's better to skip any writing utensils and paper at all. Advanced employee scheduling software makes it easy to arrange your staff conveniently and clearly. Predict needs based on data, but also balance each shift for proper size and experience.