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Creating a thorough restaurant work schedule is about more than filling in open time slots with names. While scheduling by lottery may sound like an easy way to get the job done, it’s essential that you deliberately plan schedules. On average, a restaurant employee has a tenure of only one month and 26 days. With calculated methods of organization, you can improve your employee retention rates and keep your staff happy.

You’re not just covering shifts — you’re creating teams of compatible employees. To do so, you need to consider multiple factors, including experience levels, peak business hours, creating a balance, and more. With the help of a few employee scheduling techniques and tips, you can ensure every schedule you create is the best possible set up for both your staff and business. This guide will show you eight ways to optimize the way you plan your shifts.

Benefits of Optimizing Employee Scheduling

When you’re creating schedules for your staff, you want to make a plan that suits your company’s needs as well as your employees. While you may already have a method of organization in place, there’s always room for improvement. Thorough scheduling can directly help your bottom line since as much as a third of your revenue can go towards labor costs.

Optimizing the way you put together and manage schedules is beneficial in multiple ways, including:

  • Encouraging retention: If you work from employee availability to create weekly schedules, developing a better process will help with staff retention efforts. Employees rely on you to create well thought out schedules in a timely manner. The better you can help them, the more likely they are to stick around.
  • Ensuring full staffing: You need to know you have a sufficient amount of help during your restaurant’s peak hours. Schedule your top talent during your restaurant’s busiest hours. If an employee calls out unexpectedly, you need to be able to replace them fast. Improving the way you create schedules and communicate with your staff will help keep your shifts covered.
  • Avoiding overstaffing: Ensuring you’ll have enough staff to cover every shift is essential. But, you also don’t want to be overstaffed. Certain days or times may only need minimal coverage, and there’s no point in having too many workers with nothing to do. With the right planning processes and systems in place, you won’t have to worry about accidentally scheduling excess employees on a shift.
  • Drawing a higher profit: By optimizing the way you schedule, you can identify which employees are your top revenue generators and schedule them during prime shifts. With your top sellers covering the busiest hours, you can draw more profit from your evenings and weekends.
  • Decreasing stress: Scheduling can create stress for you and your employees. You need to put your people on shifts they can manage with their experience levels. It’s also crucial to make changes as staff members need to call off or exchange shifts. With optimization methods in place, scheduling won’t be nearly as stressful, and you can feel confident in creating weekly plans.

By taking the proper steps towards optimization, from personal practices to the use of restaurant employee scheduling software, you can master creating new schedules and keeping your employees happy. Maintaining a balanced schedule will improve your employees’ morale and performance as a whole, benefitting your business and your customers.

Tips for Optimizing Employee Scheduling

You have a lot of factors to consider with restaurant employee scheduling. You need to create the best plan possible for your business, employees, and customers. It takes talent to get it right, but by using optimization processes and tools to your advantage, you can create schedules that suit everyone’s needs without sacrificing anything. These employee scheduling tips will help you find the best ways to create timetables and maintain customer and staff satisfaction.

1. Schedule in Advance

One of the best ways to keep your schedules organized is by creating timetables and sending them to your staff in advance. Scheduling in advance will give you more time to handle emergencies, and it will also take some of the stress out of putting together weekly schedules.

Every time you release a new schedule, you should keep the timing consistent. Sending out the schedule on the same day of the week and at the same time establishing order. A consistent deadline allows employees to inform you of any potential conflicts before you create the schedule. Set aside a specific time every week to create the schedule so your staff knows when to expect it. With a reliable timeline, there will be less stress, miscommunication, and room for error.

2. Prioritize Your Peaks

While it may seem easiest to plan out schedules from the beginning of the week to the end, this method typically makes it more challenging to create a balance. Instead, consider starting with your busiest shifts. Scheduling for your peak times first ensures you can place your most skilled and efficient employees in those time slots without having to backtrack and make changes.

To keep track of the varying degrees of how busy your restaurant gets, you may want to create a simple system to identify shifts on a scale. This can be as easy as rating them on a scale of one to five, with one being slower daytime shifts and five being the fast-paced night service. When you have shifts rated beforehand, it’s easier to identify and fill spaces from the busiest hours to the slowest.

3. Base Schedules on Needs and Strengths

When creating the schedules, you should consider the needs of the restaurant as well as your employee’s strengths. Of course, you should be scheduling your most capable and fastest staff members during your busiest hours. They can handle the rush without panicking or making mistakes, while your slower or more sociable employees might be more comfortable during the less busy hours.

Dinner and lunch services on weekdays are typically more relaxed, while they can still bring in decent crowds. If you take trends into account, you can match employees to shifts where they’re likely to perform at their best. For example, figure out the shifts where customers take their time and socialize, and schedule your new or slower servers for those periods.

4. Balance Shifts

While scheduling your staff to their strengths is important, it’s just as crucial to keep shifts balanced. Everyone should get a chance at working night and day shifts throughout the week, so each employee has an opportunity to work during peak hours. Servers will have more opportunities for tips during busier periods, and you should give them all the experience of a fast-paced environment.

The best way to create a balance is by scheduling the day shifts first. Every employee should be on at least one day shift during the week. Once you have the days planned out, you’ll have full flexibility to work with the high-dollar evening shifts.

5. Provide All Final Approval

Even if you spend hours trying to create the best schedule possible, changes and requests are bound to happen. It’s best to establish that staff members who need to switch out a shift find their replacement. This takes the stress off of your shoulders and makes them responsible for their own schedule. However, you should review all shift changes and approve or deny them yourself.

Putting a policy in place situating you as the final approval step is helpful for several reasons. For one, you can avoid having to pay overtime to those who are more willing to take those open shifts. Also, you can ensure that shifts are properly covered based on your business’ needs at certain times. Requiring approval is easiest in cloud-based scheduling systems, as you can set it so employees can make suggestions to the schedules. Allowing you to make changes as you see fit.

6. Space Out Shifts

You should avoid putting employees on back-to-back shifts at all costs. Scheduling staff members for two shifts in the middle of the day or consecutive closing and opening shifts can cause fatigue and low morale. Their performance may naturally suffer in their second shift or both if the scheduling affects them mentally. Giving your employees time to rest and refresh between their shifts is essential and will help boost efficiency.

Scheduling different staff members for opening and closing shifts also encourages accountability. Since every employee receives the full schedule, they can all see who the closers are. If a particular staff member is responsible for consecutive closing and opening shifts, they’ll know they can cut corners at the end of a workday. However, if you consistently schedule different employees for closing and opening shifts, the closer will be held accountable for their cleaning and stocking jobs.

7. Use Cloud-Based Software

Some restaurants still use the classic pen-and-paper method for creating and keeping track of schedules. But restaurant technology has advanced far enough that the written schedule has become obsolete. Now, there are so many tools that make planning shifts easier and more consistent each time. One of these advancements is the cloud-based software restaurants use to automate their scheduling processes.

Using restaurant-specific software that operates through storing data in the cloud can be helpful in several ways. Schedules will be available at any time, from anywhere, and your employees can also interact with it, making proposals for shift exchanges and such. All of your data is stored in an easy-to-access centralized space, so there’s no stress from losing your schedule sheet. You can also refer back to older schedules and recognize trends in daily business fluctuations.

8. Keep Employees On-Call

While you always hope employees can find a replacement for a shift they can’t come in for, emergencies and unexpected conflicts pop up occasionally. It can be stressful to scramble to find coverage, especially if a staff member has to call out on a busy evening shift. However, if you have an employee or two on-call during every shift — or at least the fast-paced, busy slots — you’ll be guaranteed a reserve employee in an emergency.

Benefits of a Cloud-Based Employee Scheduling Software

As technology has improved over the years, scheduling restaurant employees has become a simpler and more organized process. With the introduction of cloud-based software and integrated hardware, scheduling has evolved from pen-and-paper to being able to pull up and make schedule changes anywhere, at any time. Cloud tools will allow you and your managers to create, edit, and approve changes, as well as contact staff all through a central software system.

While there are many benefits to introducing these tools into your restaurant, some of the most significant include:

  • Speed: Cloud-based software is user-friendly, allowing you to build staff schedules within a few minutes.
  • Communication: Once you create schedules or approve changes, you can publish and send them directly to your staff members. If you want to send a note, you can also chat with employees through the system, or send out staff-wide emails, texts, or push notifications.
  • Access: With a single software, you can manage staff scheduling across several different locations and stay organized all in one place. You and your managers can also approve shift trades and make changes in the system from anywhere by logging in on a computer or mobile device.
  • Employee inclusion: Staff members will also have access to the software. You can grant managers and regular employees different permissions, but they all have access to input requests and availability. If there are any edits made to the schedule, it will instantly be incorporated into the system for you to approve.
  • Ease of use: If the system you choose is advanced enough, you’ll have the advantage of auto-scheduling features and access to customizable shift templates. With these, you can build schedules with a single click.
  • Analysis: While creating a schedule is the goal, you can build better timetables with the help of automatic analysis. Cloud tools will provide you with a forecast of sales and labor based on previous schedules and data, allowing you to create more accurate plans. It will also accurately forecast labor costs and compare them to the projected sales to help you stay within your budget range.
  • Advanced reports: Intuitive systems will look for discrepancies in your schedules, sending you reports to help you identify potential issues ahead of the shift time.
  • Data tracking: Information about your restaurant’s sales and labor should factor into your scheduling decisions. Cloud software will compile and track this data, allowing you to compare and understand your business’ profitability. It will also plot real-time sales data directly into schedules, so you can get an idea of how your timetables affect sales.
  • Integrated applications: Your staff can also stay connected from wherever they are with integrated iOS and Android mobile applications. When you make changes as an administrator, your employees can see the changes on their phones, ensuring they never miss an update. Once they download the connected app, they can view their scheduled shifts, submit requests for any changes, and chat with you, your managers, or each other. Programs like 7shifts, a cloud-based schedule management platform, will help you stay organized and create better timetables for your staff. With the tools to create, edit, and manage schedules, communicate directly with your employees, and use collected data to your advantage, 7shifts can reduce labor costs by 3% and save you 80% more time in staff scheduling.

With all these advantages, it’s easy to see why using a cloud-based software system is a beneficial decision. It accomplishes much more than a simple scheduling tool — by tracking data, providing reports, and connecting you with your staff, it can help you optimize and improve your restaurant as a whole. Integrating any kind of cloud system will significantly contribute to your daily and weekly organization as well as future planning.

Learn How to Optimize Your Business With CAKE

Once you’ve mastered the process of creating schedules, you need to ensure your employees have the right tools to succeed in every shift. CAKE’s cloud-based solutions will help your staff become more efficient by streamlining your day-to-day operations. With CAKE, you can encourage a better retention rate and keep your workflow organized, even during the busiest of shifts.

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