Scheduling employees at your restaurant is a balancing act and one that many managers find daunting. The task of employee scheduling is vital to the success of your restaurant – over schedule, and your bottom line suffers, under schedule, and your customers suffer.
To help you and your managers deal with the all-important, yet overwhelming task of scheduling, we’re going to discuss some ways to make this easier.
Make scheduling employees a priority. It’s essential to the operation of your restaurant. (tweet this) Set aside a day or several days to create a schedule. It gives your employees consistency and helps you control labor costs while ensuring great service.
It’s important to establish a scheduling process. Set a deadline for schedule requests, and in turn offer the schedule in a timely fashion.
How do you deal with employees and scheduling? Let’s expand on some ways to make the process more manageable and successful.
Make it clear during the hiring process how you conduct scheduling at your restaurant. Make the parameters understandable so your employees know how you’ll do it.
Next, make sure you are familiar with your full and part-time staff members’ schedules. With more and more part-time staff members, scheduling can be tough. For example, if you have students on staff, you’ll want to be aware of their scheduling needs so you can plan appropriately.
You’ll want to consider how often you’ll create a schedule. Will you do it weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? Many restaurants do this weekly so they aren’t always having to make changes.
Be upfront about how often you’ll create a schedule with your new hires so they know what to expect.
This is perhaps one of the hardest parts of scheduling. Sometimes it’s just hard to know when you’ll be busy, but most of the time, you can anticipate your busy times and do your scheduling appropriately.
You have two basic things to consider: the quality of your customer service and your labor costs. If you have too few staff working, you’ll have upset diners. When you overstaff and have to send someone home, you’ll create animosity among your staff.
This is the balancing act. You’ve got to be in tune with the needs of your restaurant and your staff. Good communication is a must. If you’re sending servers home day after day, you’ll eventually lose them. If you’re constantly understaffing your restaurant, you have the potential to burn out your staff, leading to their eventual departure.
Finding and maintaining this balance takes practice and acute attention to your labor costs and service needs.
No one likes a dictator. Let your employees know that you care about their schedules, but not at the risk of hurting your restaurant.
Give employees a chance to tell you the hours they are able to work. Create a form for employees to fill out at specified times. Set guidelines and let them know when requests must be turned in.
Let them choose the shifts they’d like to work, but let them know those shifts might not always be available. Likewise, have them jot down the times they are absolutely unavailable – for example, when they are in class or on vacation.
It’s important to communicate to your employees that they won’t always get their top shifts.
You’ve got their requests, now it’s time to put it down on paper. You can either use pen/paper, Microsoft Excel, your point of sale system or an employee scheduling software.
Employee scheduling is a time-consuming process, so try to keep it simple. (tweet this) Create a spreadsheet with employee names, job name, days of the week, shift times, hours worked and labor costs. This will help you keep your budget in check.
Another thing to consider is the strength of your employees. For example, when scheduling your wait staff, you might want to include a leader in the mix to head off any problems.
You’ll also want to look at overlapping employees a bit during the busy times so there is continuity and no obvious break in service.
The next part requires you to be a bit of a fortune teller. As you do your schedule, you’ll have to predict your needs. If you’ve kept good records through the years, this will help.
For example, you know that the third week in August is especially busy because everyone is getting ready for back to school, and they don’t have time to prepare dinner on their own.
Keep your predications in line with your budget and customer service requirements so you can ensure you’re meeting both needs.
It’s a good idea to post your employee schedule in a visible place so your employees know who to expect and when. Make copies of the schedule for your employees so they have their own. You might consider posting it online as well.
Make sure your employees know who is allowed to update or change the schedule. Create a process for last-minute schedule changes. It doesn’t matter how hard you worked or how perfect the schedule, someone is bound to have a schedule change.
Just be clear with the process. A good rule of thumb is that only managers can change the schedule.
Again, make sure they know when and how often to expect a new one.
We mentioned the delicate balancing act that occurs when you create your schedule between controlling labor costs and meeting the needs of your customers. There is one other item to consider.
With more than 40% of restaurant employees working part-time, it’s also up to the scheduler to make sure your employees are getting enough hours.
This is especially important for your best employees. If they aren’t getting enough work time, they might be forced to look elsewhere for employment.
Do your best to hire the right people and the right number of people so you can meet the needs of you restaurant customers, your bottom line and your staff.
How do you deal with employees and scheduling at your restaurant? We invite you to be part of the discussion. If you have some tips on how you deal with scheduling, please share them here. We’d love to hear them.