6 Tips To Create and Optimize A Great Restaurant Schedule

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April 21, 2022
restaurant schedule

As a restaurant owner, your people and your profits are two of the most important factors when it comes to the success of your store.  And it’s no coincidence that one affects the other.  This is why understanding how to manage your restaurant's schedule in an efficient way is paramount to your company’s financial, and cultural, success.

And what better way to do so than to leverage restaurant scheduling software?  In this article, we will cover 6 ways restaurant scheduling software could save you tme, and money.  

What is restaurant scheduling? 

Restaurant scheduling is the process of assigning employees for shifts or work within your business. This could include setting up fresh schedules, duplicating schedules, using schedule templates, or creating schedules for shift work. Essentially, the goal is to organize the working hours of your workforce, in the most efficient and profitable way possible.

Proper Restaurant employee scheduling is important because it ensures that employees are scheduled for their work in a way that is financially rewarding for the business, while also considering employee morale, shift preference and skill set.

Proper restaurant employee scheduling plays a huge role in the overall profit of a business. From labor costs to sales, employees are the wheels that keep your business running like a well-oiled machine.

In this article we are going to share helpful tips with you that will help you save time, increase profit and raise employee morale. Let’s begin!

 1 - Consider external factors.

We already touched on why employee scheduling matters, and later in this article will cover strategies on how to keep more in your pocket. 

But what about factors that one can’t predict?  Looking outside of your business at external factors is a great way to mitigate risk, and ensure you are creating a schedule that will set you up for success.  

For example: it is crucial to know about community events, peak times, weather and game days if you are going to schedule properly. If you own a pub, and Tuesdays are usually slow, it's likely that you are going to schedule fewer staff.   But if you have a large patio, and it’s sunny, the opposite is true.

To confront this challenge, consider using employee scheduling software that offers a visible reminder on your employee schedule about events or the weather to ensure you have enough staff to cover your demands.

restaurant scheduling software

 2 - Invest in training to optimize your restaurant schedule.

Onboarding and training employees is an important part of your operation, and making sure your staff are trained and onboarded properly plays a role in your scheduling. 

If you invest in training employees upfront, then you can rest assured down the road that they can handle shifts or workloads that may have previously required 2 or more staff to do.

Get to know each member of your staff and their strong suits. Don’t just schedule by position, but also by ability. Remember, fewer staff on duty won’t translate into higher profits if your staff aren’t trained to sell.

3 - Speed things up with scheduling templates.

Scheduling templates are documents that help you make your schedules more quickly.  They could be paper or digital spreadsheets, or presets in cloud-based software solutions.  Either way, the goal is productivity.

If you are choosing the hard copy option, be sure to keep it in a safe place away from coffee stains and, if the schedule worked the previous week worked for everyone, copying and pasting is the way to go.  But that is a lot of paperwork. Using digital spreadsheets is the more eco-friendly and efficient option.

However, keeping track of employee time-off requests and shift availability with a spreadsheet is not ideal.  Plus, you have to figure out a way to share these schedules with your staff.

Going the spreadsheet route allows you to leverage simple programs like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, giving you the ability to create and set up calculations you wouldn’t otherwise have with the paper method—but it’s still difficult to keep track of time off requests, and you can’t forecast sales or labor.

On the other hand, if you are using a cloud-based restaurant scheduling software, you can create schedule templates that allow you to duplicate schedules that worked well week over week.  This saves you time in manually creating schedules. Sigh.

You can also set up employee shift presets. If an employee works the same shift week on week, simply drag and drop that preset shift around in the template to save hours manually inputting data.

This is the best option, because it also factors in all employee requested hours and time off, and won’t allow you to schedule someone who has requested to be off for the day. Plus, it will calculate hours worked that week as you drag and drop shifts into the schedule.

4 - Get clear, with forecasts and automations.

Labor forecasting is a great tool to have, especially if you have staff who are regularly requesting to swap or pick up shifts that could put them into overtime. 

Using labor forecasting pulls information from other integrated systems like the weather, your POS system or payroll alerts and will help ensure you stick within labor budgets, showing you forecasted labor costs before approving or creating a schedule.

These tools will save you money by showing you real-time labor forecasting based on real-time sales, weather, and statutory holiday overtime pay alerts.

Some cloud-based systems also have automated scheduling based on individual business rules, making your schedule as easy as one click.

restaurant scheduling software

5 - Save big, with time tracking technology.

In a recent case study we did with Booster Juice, the owner shared that she had managed to save $91,200 per year using integrated time tracking technology.  

Here’s how it works:

Using an integrated workforce management system that offers time tracking and schedule integration, managers are able to oversee and approve schedules before they go out.  Using that approved schedule, they are then able to compare scheduled hours against employee clocked hours (hours that they clocked in and out of their shift) and make manual, or automated adjustments if those hours don’t add up. 

Our friend at Booster Juice was shocked to find that employees were consistently clocking in 5 minutes early and out 5 minutes late daily in order to claim an additional 10 minutes pay per day. With over 100 employees at 13 locations, this added up to 60,000 hours per year of lost time. Using a solution that fixes that could save your business a ton of cash! 


6 - Opt for an integrated solution.

Integrating your scheduling software with time tracking software isn’t the only way to save on employee time. 
Using integrated time tracking, scheduling and payroll technology you can eliminate the need to manually calculate employee hours by streamlining clocked hours from your schedule to payroll once an employee clocks in. 

from This will save you having to employ a full-time payroll person, or manually making those calculations yourself. (Not to mention the manual errors that could occur!)

Another great way to save on labor with integrated scheduling software is to integrate your scheduling solution with your POS system.  This allows you to pull up labor vs sales reports and make smart decisions about what scheduling decisions to make in your business in real-time, and on your next forecasted schedule report!

restaurant scheduling software


How to choose the best restaurant scheduling software for you.

Employee scheduling software is a workforce and scheduling management solution that enables business owners and managers to streamline the rostering and scheduling process of their hourly workers. The software automates the process of creating schedules to ensure a seamless transition from one shift to another while also automating notifications for shift changes, timecard creation, clock-in and clock-out, and payroll file importation.


Choose restaurant scheduling software with the following features:

  • Schedule overview. This enables managers to view the weekly, biweekly, and monthly shifts, so that they can gain valuable insight into employees’ schedules—for example, spotting gaps in cover. Information can be filtered based on location, specific shifts, and roles.
  • Auto-assign shift scheduling. Employee scheduling software that can autonomously assign tasks and shifts to employees streamlines the time-consuming process of shift scheduling. Tasks are automatically assigned to the most appropriate employee, speeding up the whole process.
  • Time tracking. This allows you to keep track of the hours put in by all employees by accurately monitoring their logged time-ins and time-outs, as well as their paid time off days. This puts you in a great position for better identifying situations that result in understaffing or overstaffing.
  • Worker profile. Worker profiling helps managers handle all their employees’ data, such as contact information, licenses, training, certifications, employment history, and education information. Managers are then able to align job responsibilities with each employee’s expertise, and also ensure labor law compliance.
  • Real-time communication and mobile technology compatibility. An employee scheduling software solution that successfully merges its capabilities with mobile technology allows 24/7 real-time access to employees through mobile messaging platforms. This ensures timely notification about schedule changes.
  • Shift swapping. This feature allows employees to virtually exchange shifts or pick up available ones without causing scheduling conflicts or requiring direct input from management.
  • Labor and resource forecasting. This lets managers know how much labor and resources will be needed for future tasks, allowing them to plan months in advance.
  • Integrations. An ideal employee scheduling software solution should allow integrations with other facets of the business, providing options like POS system syncing as well as payroll solutions.
  • Automated customizable reports. These provide information on different metrics you may want to examine, such as the number of times a particular employee has changed shifts or been absent.

We hope this was helpful in helping you lower labor and raise profits within your business.

Need more help? Check out our free restaurant scheduling template, or download our handy guide for other tips on how you can save money and increase profits while running a restaurant.

optimize restaurant schedule

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April 2022


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