6 Tips For Easier, More Effective Scheduling

Sunny Stree

One of the most important jobs in a restaurant is correct scheduling. A good schedule could mean happier employees, increased efficiency, and cutting down on costs. That’s not saying scheduling is easy, though. There are many factors to consider while scheduling: every single employees’ availability will be different, timetables, cost of labor percentage, and understanding the busy times of your restaurant to know when you need full staff. To make an effective schedule, and one that doesn’t give you headache every time you have to make a new one, there are processes and tools you can use to make your life easier and your employees happier.

 1. Know your restaurant

Take a deep look into your sales history and marketing forecasts. If there is an upcoming promotion that will bring a rush of guests to your restaurant, be sure to schedule a fuller staff. Big rushes and lulls can greatly affect your bottom line, and ensuring you’re properly staffed for both is crucial. Also consider your community- if you’re located next to a school or a lot of businesses, will there be a major lunch rush daily? Or an afternoon influx of kids and parents after school? Having a one shift schedule can make this process a lot easier. 

2. Hiring

After creating a template of when and how many people you need staffed, finding the right staff is paramount. Be sure you communicate with your staff about expectations- ultimately the staff should be able to match consumer demand. Don’t be totalitarian though. Sometimes you’ll interview the perfect person for the job but their availability doesn’t perfectly fit with your timetable. A great manager will make adjustments for their staff to ensure their happiness and increase employee retention.
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3. Know your team

Create a list of the staff, their position, their strengths and weaknesses, certifications, and contact information. This will help you decide where they would be best placed for greater efficiency. Scheduling the right person for the right job will boost productivity and employee confidence- if they are doing a job they are skilled at, they will more than likely thrive.

4. Create a scheduling process

Having a process in place where staff can keep their availability up to date will make your's and their lives easier. Allowing staff to state their preferred shift can help them feel appreciated, as well as ensuring less call offs and sudden cancellations. The employees should know that there will be times that they’ll have to cover a different shift, though. Once you have a system in place your scheduling process will be more efficient and easier.

5. Be considerate

No schedule will ever be perfect for everyone, and as a manager it’s a fact that you have to accept. That fact should be voiced to the employees as well during their onboarding process and during staff meetings. That being said, do your utmost to cater to the availability of the employees (within reason, of course). Don’t make your employees feel bad about asking for a day off, be willing to accept shift swaps, and make your schedule at least a month in advance. Try not to cancel your employee’s shift last minute- while you might think you’re doing them a favor by giving them an unexpected day off, most restaurant workers don’t have the budget to be losing hours. Finally, be sure that the schedule is easily accessible at all times.

6. Plan for the worst

Having a plan B is critical for a restaurant. An employee might not show up or they might have an emergency. A huge unexpected rush might happen- how will your staff cope? Have clear rules about shift swaps and absences to help lessen surprise staff changes, but understand that they might happen anyway.
The key takeaway is this: take the time to create a process for scheduling. Map out busy and slow times, holidays, and special in-house promotions. And above all make expectations clear and be considerate to your employeesthe more they feel that they’re heard, the more they’ll feel appreciated, the happier they will be, the happier your customers will be, and therefore the happier your employees will be. Your job is to keep the cycle turning!


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