Creating staff schedules (or rotas) is a core part of running a restaurant whether you’re delivering fine dining or fast food. It’s not always easy though. One, it demands that you know your employees’ daily work inside out. Two, you have to make sure they’re in the loop all the time.
To help turn your restaurant scheduling from a stressful admin task into a system that yields higher staff productivity and happier customers, here are four practical tips.
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1. Centralise your calendar
Even with professional templates and complex spreadsheets, restaurant scheduling can quickly spiral into chaos without a centralised calendar. Employee apps like Deputy are built to integrate with your Restaurant point-of-sale, enabling you to schedule for different areas and locations, notify staff and clearly visualise activity so that everyone is on the same page.
It’s important that all your staff can check their schedule on the go, so ensure your centralised calendar is mobile-friendly — this is another reason traditional spreadsheets don’t do the job well.
2. Automate your schedule
After centralising your calendar, you can cut out waste by automating recurring events or shifts — there’s no point manually adding the same booking for the same weekly foodie group.
Scheduling apps will give you the option to make items repeat, removing the manual leg work. If you’re not ready to move to a dedicated platform like this, you can also create repeat events in your team’s Google or Apple Calendars.
3. Use employee management tools
The most useful employee management tools enable employees to clock in and out, allowing you to see exactly how many hours they’ve worked. It also encourages them to arrive on time which should ensure you’re never left with too few staff to serve customers.
Square Employee Management even allows you to view the sales each employee makes, as well as your quietest and busiest times. The result is a clearer idea of which staff need more training to achieve targets, and when to rota more of them onto the schedule.
4. Use predictive scheduling
Employees who know in advance when they’re working, and get sufficient rest periods between shifts, are happier employees. In countries like the U.S., “predictive scheduling” is now becoming standard, lawful practice for businesses of all sizes. At its heart, the approach means that employees get fair notice of their shifts. It also protects them from poor planning that results in “clopening” (when you close at work in the evening and open shop the next day).
Predictive scheduling is yet to officially reach the UK, but its growth abroad shows how new attitudes to employee management are catching on. Every small restaurant business needs some flexibility in its scheduling. But a happy team who respect you as a fair and emotionally-intelligent leader — rather than a stingy boss — will help the company succeed.
Here are three ideas to bring predictive scheduling into your business:
- Let your employees know about their shifts with as much notice as possible, ideally 2 weeks
- Never rota staff on closing duty to open the next day
- If things are tight, and you can’t avoid either of the above, reward the staff who are impacted
These four restaurant scheduling tips are all easy to implement. But used together they’ll make a huge difference to the time and effort you spend on your schedule, as well as improving its effectiveness. As a small business owner, it’s these small tweaks that collectively make your day to day less complicated and more rewarding.