Restaurant Shift Scheduling Solutions For Better Business

Scheduling employees for their shifts in your restaurant once included millions of post-its, handwritten notes, and frustrations over forgotten conversations. Streamlining the process to an app can lower the number of scraps you have to manage, but it will still take effort and review. Here are some of the best restaurant shift scheduling solutions for better business in 2023.

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Review Yearly Data

Carefully consider what days you will need “all hands on deck” and when you can cut back a bit. While we all know that Friday and Saturday nights will likely be busy and Valentine’s Day will be crazy, other holidays offer some variability.

Did you offer a New Year’s Special last year? Was it well-received and will you return to a similar promotion? One of the biggest challenges of recent world events is that we can’t be sure why people are staying away and when they’ll come back.

As best you can, book your staffing needs based on last year’s dinner population data and forge ahead. Managing your data analytics is much like running a restaurant anyway. If you can manage this data effectively, you may find ways to better manage your restaurant staffing needs in more productive ways.

Encourage and Reward Early Requests for Time Off

There are many scenarios where an early request for time off simply won’t work. Funerals are different from weddings in the planning. However, if you have employees who suddenly need time off for a family reunion that has probably been on the books for a while, it may be time to put your foot down.

When you publish your schedule, consider blocking out the dates requested by the folks who do plan ahead. If their name has a large red block on a set of days, it will be known to all that they will not be available. Even if it’s just for a couple of days, this visual reminder about requesting time off could be all you need to increase this useful information.

Set Triggers

If you have an employee who is approaching 35 hours, make sure you set up a trigger that allows you to review the rest of their work week. They need money and you want to keep them happy, but you need to keep costs down and that may mean no overtime.

If you do have to cut someone off before Saturday evening, look for ways to balance out their schedule. Those who work for tips have few chances to earn a lot on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, but perhaps you use those nights for training. If you have an employee who is a good server and a great trainer, perhaps you can offer an hourly bump in wages to reward them for their training services. Great trainers on your team are critical to establishing a good work culture with newly hired employees and can help avoid high turnover rates in your staffing.

Notify Employees of Big Changes Before the Schedule is Posted

If you have a set of servers who always work the big dollar nights and one of them needs to be moved to a different facility or have their hours reduced, make sure you give them a heads-up before the schedule is posted. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, and the gossip mill may go a bit crazy if everyone looking at the schedule knows before the employee does.

The different types of restaurant shift schedules may allow you to offer them other perks. For example, if they can work a split shift, you can possibly give them a brunch and a dinner shift on a Sunday instead of a Saturday night. You may be able to assuage some feelings by allowing them to leave at closing instead of being on the cleanup crew.

It is possible to change schedules without making people unhappy, but you will have to get creative to avoid damaging someone’s budget when you change their schedule.

Offer Smart Flexibility

Many restaurants now schedule their people on an app that allows employees to make changes with approval. This would mean that an owner or a manager would have to be the one to allow the change, tethering managers and owners to the app at times that may not be convenient.

If you have a seasoned server or hostess with a good eye for workflow on the floor, you may consider giving them change approval rights. This will serve you in multiple ways:

  • This seasoned employee will develop leadership skills
  • Younger employees may reach out to this employee for mentor/mentee conversations
  • Changes will get posted more quickly

A seasoned employee will know not to allow a swap between another fully trained employee and a newbie on New Year’s Eve. They will also learn the app more quickly and be able to train other employees. Finally, with everyone working their schedule from the app, you may be able to see who is most hungry for hours and cash.

It’s not possible to keep everyone happy. Many restaurant employees are working at their first jobs; challenges will come up. However, a good manager comes through every crisis with a better-trained workforce.

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