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How to Effectively Schedule Your Restaurant

Aside from food, labor is the biggest cost that any restaurateur faces. Not scheduling enough staff can increase wait times, decrease food quality, and ultimately lead to angry customers. Scheduling too many employees can lead to social loafing, a psychological concept that states that too many people working towards the same goal leads to people exerting significantly less effort than they are capable of. Making an effective restaurant schedule is not as easy as it sounds.

While your back-of-the-house staff costs more than your front-of-the-house team, many of the same scheduling principles can be applied. Pay attention to these factors:

  • Reservations: If you know what kind of volume to expect, you can staff accordingly. This means you don’t get caught shorthanded on a Monday when you didn’t expect much and that you know how many volume staff to schedule on a weekend.
  • Set shifts: Some restaurants have openers, volume or mid-shift employees and closers. This helps to structure your staff and prevents arguments about who gets cut first. It also means that you are planning to cut staff when they are no longer needed while knowing that you have enough team members on hand to properly close.
  • Volume: If sales start dropping off at 7:30, it is time to cut some staff. Let your staff who came in first to prep food or set up tables go home for the evening. Labor should be a function of volume. Your labor should be between 10% and 16% of your sales. Yes various pricing levels will have an effect, but keep this figure in mind.
  • Staff performance: The truth is some staff members are stronger than others. Put together a staff that has your stronger employees working with those who still need a little development. Scheduling all of your best on the same nights (yes, you need to do this on weekends) might make things run smoothly and please you as a manager, but it means that one night you will have your weaker members working together. This means that set-up, service, and cleaning will all run less efficiently and raise your labor cost.

Putting together a well thought out schedule can save you money and help to keep you organized. If you need staff in a pinch or temporarily for a special event, take a moment to let us tell you how we can help.

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