Scheduling employees at a restaurant involves much more than simply matching names to specific days and times. Instead, putting together a roster focuses on making sure that the restaurant is as productive as possible. Alongside this, you’ll need to make sure that employees and customers are left satisfied.
This means that it will require a significant amount of planning and preparation, and may even need a certain amount of creativity. Despite this, many managers and owners may have issues with their restaurant scheduling. This could lead to them wondering how they can improve it.
Wanting to make sure that the scheduling is as high-quality as possible, as this could provide a variety of benefits. Some of the more notable of these are:
- It Ensures Full Staffing: You’ll need to make sure that you have a full staff during your busiest hours. By improving and maintaining standards, you should be able to do so. Doing so also means that you should be able to call in employees whenever someone calls in sick.
- It Avoids Overstaffing: Making sure that you have enough staff is one thing, but you’ll want to avoid overstaffing. There will be certain days and times where it’s much quieter than others. Knowing when these are and planning accordingly will help to avoid overstaffing during these times.
- It Increases Employee Retention: All business owners will need to keep their employees happy, with restaurants being no different. Your workers will expect to have their work schedule with a certain amount of notice. Failing to do so could cause a certain amount of frustration, which may make them leave. This should be minimized with improved scheduling.
- It Decreases Stress: Scheduling shifts can cause a certain amount of stress for you and employees. This is especially true if the scheduling process isn’t up to par. Much of this could stem from employees needing to change and trade shifts, and much more. However, having a system that’s well-optimized avoids this.
Naturally, the majority of people will want to take advantage of these benefits. However, they might not know what restaurant scheduling improvement tips that they should take advantage of. This could be because there is quite a large number of factors that may come into play.
Coupled with this is the fact that there’s a wealth of advice available for people. While this is typically a good thing, it means that many people might not know which ones work and which don’t. As a result, it could be quite easy to become overwhelmed.
Instead, there are a few tips and tricks that have proven to be much more effective than others. This could mean that they’ll be much better recommended than some others that you might come across. As such, they?re worth paying attention to and considering for your restaurant.
This video highlights a few notable steps to how you can create an effective schedule:
Table of Contents
Set Up A Routine For Schedule Creation
Consistency is vital to every business, with this being seen in a variety of ways. Scheduling is no different, as employees will expect to receive their shifts on the same day every week or fortnight, depending on your system. This means that you’ll need to develop a routine for creating your schedule.
If, for example, you want to post the schedule at 5 pm on a Friday, then it should be posted on or by 5 pm every Friday. Once you know when you want to display the employee schedule, you can then start setting goals and deadlines for yourself and the team.
This could mean giving yourself all of Friday and some of Thursday to create the following week’s schedule. While it often shouldn’t take this long, emergencies can occasionally pop up that you?ll have to deal with. Though this could be simple, they could make creating the schedule somewhat more complicated.
If you give yourself Thursday and Friday to work on this, it means that you can take employee requests up until Wednesday. This includes preferred work days and shifts, vacation days, and much more. This will mean that you’ll have more time to work these in.
Having a consistent process for this will speed it up significantly. Alongside this, it can help you to simplify the process for you and your employees. It will also mean that your employees will know what to expect and when to expect it. The process should also avoid any last-minute requests for time off.
Keep Business Needs And Employee Strengths In Mind
Put simply, this involves making sure that your best employees are working during your busiest periods. This should ensure that everything is running as smoothly as possible and avoid any significant issues from cropping up. Alongside this, it involves putting some of your newer employees on during expected low periods.
By doing so, you’ll be able to make sure that they’re properly trained in before they’re thrown in at the deep end. While this may seem like a simple and obvious step, there can be much more involved in it than many people may think. The main reason for this is that it involves knowing where your employee?s strengths are.
While many people may believe that their more experienced employees are their best, this may not always be true. Instead, a newer employee may shine better during busier periods than quieter ones. As such, you’ll need to take all of this into account when scheduling.
You should also look at when your busier periods are. This will help you determine when you need to schedule employees who may be more efficient or faster than others. This should also mean that you’ll be able to add more employees to shifts that you’ll expect to be quite busy. As a result, you should be able to avoid understaffing during key shifts.
This may take a certain amount of time to determine, as you‘ll need to make sure that you know the business inside and out. This will include when your busier shifts are so that you can prepare in advance. Alongside this, you‘ll need to observe each of your employees to figure out where their strengths and weaknesses are, and adjust accordingly.
Give Everyone A Chance To Work A High-Dollar Shift
Everyone in the restaurant industry knows that there are some shifts that make more money than others. Much of this could be because there are more customers and a higher chance of earning tips. While these can often vary from one restaurant to another, your employees all know when this is.
As a result, the majority of them will want to work that shift as much as possible. Scheduling for this shift can often be one of the more complicated areas of the process. However, there are a few ways that you could go about this. Perhaps the fairest is to make sure that everyone has a chance to work these shifts.
This could mean that you’ll be giving everybody a chance to make the same amount of money every week. There are a few reasons for this, with the first being that it keeps employees happy, as they can count on a big payday at least once a week. This could also help to keep them engaged.
Alongside this, it gives them a chance to learn how to work during peak working hours. This should mean that you‘ll have to be fair to each of your employees, as you should also schedule your newer employees onto these shifts, when appropriate.
Doing so could be an important part of their training process, as they’ll inevitably have to work during these peak hours anyway. While this might be somewhat of a balancing act, pairing them with more experienced employees could be a great way to make sure they can learn while still being productive.
Give Everyone A Chance To Work The Day Shift
There are quite a large number of night shifts available with restaurants, which many employees have come to expect. However, there are also a variety of day shifts to take advantage of. You should make sure that you schedule each of your employees for at least one day shift per week. This should help to make the tip above much easier.
Naturally, there may be some employees who prefer having either more night or day shifts, so you may need to work around their needs. You should also make sure that your senior staff has at least one day shift per week, as this can have a variety of benefits.
Perhaps the most notable of these is that it can help boost your customer service during lunch hours. This could result in a better perception among people during these hours, which could subsequently help to boost sales. This will be beneficial all-round, as you, your employees, and your customers can all see rewards from the practice.
Some employees may see this negatively, as they may believe that the evening or night shifts are much more profitable. However, you should be able to explain to them that boosting the lunch hours service could have a positive impact on sales. As a result, this could help to improve the financial incentives of working the lunch shift.
This could mean that you may be able to make the lunch shift much more attractive over the long-term.
Schedule Busy Shifts First
Managers can have quite a large number of ways that they’ll fill in a schedule. Many may often start at the beginning of the week and make their way through until the end. While this is a logical approach, it may not be the most effective, with there being a variety of reasons for this.
One of the better-recommended methods is to start with your busiest days first. By doing so, you’ll be able to make sure that your most skilled employees are available for those days. Once these have been filled out, you’ll be able to schedule each of the other days accordingly.
While this could usually mean that certain people will work on certain days consistently, you’ll also need to factor in large advance bookings, and much more. However, you should still aim to make sure that you start with your busiest days before moving on to the others.
This can also tie into knowing an employee’s strengths, as you’ll be able to determine which ones are the most efficient and should be placed on these shifts. There can be a variety of ways that you can rate how busy certain days are and how productive specific employees are.
For example, you could label each day one to seven based on which ones are the busiest. Alongside this, you could rank employees based on their efficiency. When putting together, this should mean that you’ll be able to match the fastest and most efficient employees on the busiest days.
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Ensure That All Schedule Changes Go Through You
Changes to the schedule are unavoidable. While there may be some weeks where employees wouldn’t want anything changed, these are relatively rare and far between. As such, there’s a significant chance that there’ll be a decent number of changes needed. This isn’t something that should be avoided, however.
Instead, you should encourage your employees to find a replacement for their shift and change with them. When you’re doing so, you should also make sure that these schedule changes go through you to be approved.
One possible reason for this is that it will avoid any overtime being done, which could be something that you might want to minimize. Alongside this, it will help to make sure that all bases are covered as far as the business’ needs are concerned.
For example, you wouldn’t want one of your experienced employees switching with a trainee. This could lead to someone who may be too inexperienced working one of the busiest shifts, which may lead to mistakes happening.
Depending on what kind of system you have in place, there are a variety of ways that this can be done. Perhaps the easiest of these is by sending employees a PDF of the schedule and getting their input on it. In many cases, simple communication can be the most efficient way of overcoming any potential challenges.
While this might take a certain amount of time, it will avoid a lot of hassle and some headaches over the long-term. This is another reason why you should give yourself Friday and some of Thursday to put the shift together.
Avoid Back-To-Back Shifts
Very few people like working back-to-back shifts. While many wouldn’t have a problem either closing or opening up, many people will want to avoid doing both within 24 hours. This could cause quite a large number of issues, with this being focused on employee morale and productivity.
Many people have a dislike for working back-to-back shifts, which has meant that it’s gotten somewhat of a negative reputation. As a result, quite a large number of people will be unhappy that they have to do so. This could mean that they’ll be increasingly negative in the lead up to these shifts.
Much of this can have an impact on the team around them, which can subsequently become less productive. The process could also make employees somewhat less accountable. For example, if they’re closing and opening up, they may leave some things until the following day before addressing them.
In turn, this could set a negative example for other employees, some of whom may follow their lead and not completely finish their jobs. This could then cause problems for the employees who may be opening up after them.
It also shouldn’t be acceptable that things are being left undone for between eight and ten hours when they could have been done already. Much of this can focus on the cleaning, which could make the restaurant somewhat unsanitary throughout the night.
Naturally, many managers and restaurant owners may find this unacceptable, which is why it’s worth avoiding. Making sure that you minimize and back-to-back shifts are the most effective way of doing so. While you may not be able to get rid of them completely, they shouldn’t become a habit.
Use Technology To Make Scheduling Easier
Many of us might be used to the old pen-and-paper way of scheduling employees. However, there’s been a significant number of strides made in the area over the past few years. As a result, there’s been a considerable number of tools released that should be quite helpful when creating an employee schedule.
You could be surprised at the number of restaurant-specific tools that you can take advantage of when doing so. Many of them should prove useful for all of the above, which should make them quite effective at putting together a schedule.
With the wealth of tools that are on offer, you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time researching and comparing them. Much of this will focus on making sure that you find the right tool or software for your needs. There can be a variety of things that you can focus on when doing so.
Naturally, how user-friendly it is and what the software can and can’t do will be the more important areas to focus on. When you’re comparing them, you’?ll also have to know what your restaurant?s needs are. By doing so, you’ll be in a better position to choose the right one for the restaurant.
While it may take a certain amount of time for you and your employees to get used to this software, it should reap dividends in the long-term. Much of this will be seen in how much time and effort you’ll be able to save when putting together the schedule. As such, it’s a step that could prove to be much more beneficial long-term.
Schedule Two Days Off In A Row Whenever Possible
The majority of managers will want to find ways to increase an employee’s productivity. While there are a variety of high-quality ways to do so, there are a few that are somewhat surprising. Prominent among these is giving employees two days off in a row whenever you can.
While this may seem counterintuitive, there can be a variety of benefits to this, according to Forbes. Quite a large number of people will be used to the five-day workweek. However, this typically includes five days of working in a row and then two days off.
You should aim to schedule this as much as possible for all of your employees. There are a few notable benefits to this, including:
- Increased concentration and productivity;
- More innovative thinking;
- A more streamlined decision-making process;
- A better immune system, so employees should get sick less, and;
- Better motivation.
Your employees should benefit from each of the above, which will then have advantages for the restaurant itself. As a result, scheduling two days off in a row for every employee could prove to be quite rewarding. Naturally, there will be some times of the year where this isn’t going to be possible.
However, it’s still something that you can work towards for most of the year. Since a restaurant is typically open seven days a week, it might not be possible to give all employees the weekend off. This doesn’t mean that you couldn’t give them two days off in a row.
In many cases, employees will be pleased with the days off, regardless of which two days in a row they are. For example, they can often be happy with having a Tuesday and Wednesday off in a row. As such, which days they get off might not be the largest issue at hand.
Regularly Reevaluate Your Restaurant Schedule
Many of us might think that we’ve gotten our schedule and overall system perfect. While this may be the case, for now, it might not always be. Employees have lives outside of their jobs, which can occasionally require an adjustment to their shifts. Some employees may leave and be replaced while others might want their hours reduced.
These are all areas that can interfere with your schedule significantly. This means that you’ll need to revisit your schedule regularly to determine if any changes need to be made. While these often wouldn’t be large, there can often be a variety of minor tweaks and changes that you might want to make.
It’s typically suggested that you visit it at least once per quarter to make sure it’s still as high-quality as possible. Alongside this, you’ll need to refer back to the scheduling process should any employees leave or if you take on new hires. While these may often be rare occurrences, they’ll still require changes to your system.
It’s also recommended that you get feedback from all of your employees. While this doesn’t have to focus on the schedule itself, it could be a way to receive any much-needed input from your employees. This will give you a chance to make any changes that might be of concern to some of your employees.
Improving your schedule will often be a time-consuming process, as you’ll need to please a variety of people. However, being flexible and evaluating the process can be a recommended way of simplifying it.
There’s quite a large number of restaurant scheduling tips to take advantage of, each of which will have varying degrees of success. Naturally, many of these may need to be tailored somewhat to your specific restaurant. Despite this, they can still be highly effective for your business.
This should mean that it’s worth implementing each of them into your restaurant’s scheduling processes. While each comes highly recommended, there’s no particular order in which you should introduce them. If you find that some are much more appealing for your restaurant than others, then it could be worth starting with that before trying other tips.
The more of them that you implement, the greater the returns you should see. As such, it’s suggested that you use as many of the above tips as possible. The overall process could be overwhelming, so it’s recommended that you start with one or two on the list and then take it from there.
However, it’s worth noting that this could take a certain amount of time to implement fully. This will mean that you’ll need to be patient when using each of the above scheduling tips. The main reason for this is that it may take time for your employees and the restaurant as a whole to get used to the changes.
This adjustment period could be slightly longer than you may have realized. Despite this, you should start seeing the rewards over the long-term. During this time, a significant amount of communication will be vital. Getting feedback from your employees can often be critical, as the success or failure of the changes can usually rely on it.
This will inevitably mean that upgrading your scheduling processes may often take longer than expected. With the potential benefits that this will bring, however, it should be well worth it. Start small and choose the tips that you feel the strongest about, and then you’ll start achieving the rewards often associated with high-quality scheduling.
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