Little Known Secrets of Efficient Restaurant Scheduling

Anywhere from 25 to 45 percent of a restaurant’s operating budget can be attributed to labor costs. With new and proposed government regulations – including local minimum wage hikes and expanded overtime pay – restaurant owners need to make sure they have a good understanding of their labor expenses.

City and state authorities across the U.S. are also imposing stricter controls on scheduling practices, such as on-call shifts and “clopenings” (where employees work a consecutive closing and opening shift).

Restaurant owners and operators need a smarter approach to scheduling hourly employees, to both manage spend and stay compliant. Follow these four important tips to make restaurant scheduling more convenient for everyone on your staff.

  1. Prioritize shift management early: When restaurant owners fail to ask about job candidates’ preferred shifts or availability during the hiring process, they set themselves up for scheduling challenges later. Being upfront about which hours you need to fill and gauging a candidate’s shift preferences on job applications simplifies recruitment and mitigates employee absences and attrition due to incompatible schedules.
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  3. Track your restaurant’s service trends: Efficient restaurant scheduling starts with identifying patterns in your day-to-day operations. Is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. your busiest service block? Is 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. consistently quiet? Understanding these trends makes it easier for managers to build schedules earlier than a week or two in advance, offering employees more flexibility to plan personal commitments around work.
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  5. Equip managers with better scheduling tools: Managers receive staff’s time off and preferred shift requests across a grab bag of methods, from in-person conversations and written notes to text messages. As a result, restaurant scheduling becomes a tedious exercise in aligning hours with different employee and business needs. Restaurant scheduling software programs or other tools can alleviate these burdens by automating shift management and centralizing manager-employee communication.
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  7. Make it easier for employees to collaborate: In most restaurants, managers are far outnumbered by the amount of employees they need to schedule. Rather than overload managers with facilitating shift swaps and finding last-minute replacements, give your staff a way to solve these scheduling gaps on their own. Formal software programs, Facebook groups and even email distribution lists can empower front and back-of-house staff to manage their own shift needs without straining their time-strapped supervisors.

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