8 Scheduling Secrets to Save Quick Service Restaurants Money

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Stephanie Graham
February 5, 2021

If you run a Quick Service Restaurant, and you want to save money when staff scheduling, this is the article for you!

Workers in the restaurant industry don’t work a traditional 9-5, so scheduling shifts, measuring labor costs and making sure you have the optimal number of workers at all times can be challenging. 

Overstaffing, understaffing, time clock inconsistencies, and last-minute shift changes that lead to unforeseen holiday or overtime pay can cost you big time.

That is why optimizing your staff scheduling practices with these 8 secrets can save you time, money, and lots of frustration!

Staff scheduling secret #1 - hire team players.

A successful staff scheduling strategy starts with who you hire. Your interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and training practices have a big impact on motivation and morale among your staff. In interviews with servers and other team members, ask questions that focus on teamwork and covering shifts for coworkers. Set up open channels of communication so your team can easily discuss scheduling issues with you and other employees.

Hiring people who understand the value of teamwork and stepping up to help coworkers out when necessary will make scheduling employees much easier.

Staff scheduling secret #2 - monitor and manage shift switches.

By nature, restaurant work doesn’t follow a traditional 9-5, Monday-through-Friday timeline. Since quick service restaurants have different staffing needs depending on the time of day, the day of the week, and the time of year, scheduling needs to be more fluid and flexible than in other industries. Most managers allow employees to swap shifts and cover each other when needed to ensure adequate staffing at all times, but this can cause overtime or labor cost issues.

It’s vital that managers carefully monitor shift switches and pickups to ensure no one employee works too many hours and incurs unapproved overtime pay. Rather than dedicating hours of time doing manual calculations, take advantage of scheduling software to set up time-off request rules, analyze shift swaps and the associated labor costs, and reject or approve requests. This helps avoid employee burnout and saves you money.

Staff scheduling secret #3 - mandate breaks to avoid overworking employees.

Restaurant employees must take adequate breaks. Mandating breaks keeps you in compliance with labor laws, protects you from class action lawsuits, and — most importantly — ensures the well-being of your staff members. Overworked employees are less productive and they aren’t able to provide high-quality customer service; they’re also more likely to quit, which is bad for morale and your bottom line.

Mandate breaks and monitor overtime closely to avoid employee burnout. Push Operations offers advanced time clock tracking to make complying with the law and keeping track of employee hours easy and quick.

Staff scheduling secret #4 - use payroll and scheduling integration software.

Unforeseen scheduling changes can be difficult enough to keep track of on their own. But on top of that, each shift change has an associated payroll change. Tracking down who worked what shifts when is time-consuming and leaves you vulnerable to making mistakes.

By integrating how you run payroll with your scheduling software, you can cut down on labor costs and save yourself the hassle of organizing multiple spreadsheets and calculating payroll manually. This allows you to track employee hours, manage shifts, and monitor wages in one location.

Staff scheduling secret #5 - automate clock ins and clock outs.

You want to be sure you’re only paying employees for the time they actually worked. Relying on employees to tell you when they arrived and left leaves you at risk of mistakes or even intentional time theft and “buddy punching,” which occurs when an employee has a coworker clock in or out for them when in fact they’re absent. A fingerprint or photo stamp clock-in system automates the process and allows you to compare scheduled hours with clock times to ensure you only pay team members for the time they actually worked.

Staff scheduling secret #6 - use data to forecast staffing needs.

To optimize labor costs and save money, you need to schedule shifts carefully and make sure you don’t have too many (or not enough) people working at a given time. But staffing needs can be tough to predict in the restaurant industry due to the number of factors that influence when people are likely to dine out. With holidays, sporting events, parties, and so many other ingredients in the mix, trying to intuit how many employees you’ll need at a given time is nearly impossible.

Rather than guessing, use labor vs. sales data from prior years to predict how many customers will need to be served and how many employees you’ll need to serve them. This can help you avoid over- or understaffing, saving you unnecessary labor costs.

Staff scheduling secret #7 - check in regularly.

When it comes down to it, scheduling is a team effort. Communicating with your employees is the best way to make sure you’re informed about scheduling issues and concerns at all times. Check in with your staff to make sure they’re not feeling overworked, unappreciated, or confused. Make it clear what the rules are when it comes to taking time off, requesting shift changes, or covering for coworkers. 

It’s a good idea to set up semi-regular meetings to go over the schedule for the upcoming weeks and ensure your staff is on the same page. Always ask for feedback and if there’s anything you can do to make life easier or clarify your rules.

Staff scheduling secret #8 - take the guesswork out of scheduling and save money.

Scheduling is a notoriously difficult and sometimes frustrating aspect of quick service restaurant management. Figuring out how to schedule employees effectively can be challenging and time consuming, not to mention trying to figure out how things like shift changes and overtime impact payroll and taxes.

Push Operations integrates every aspect of employee management to reduce risk and errors, save you time, and boost your productivity and profitability. By automating and integrating your scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and HR in one simple and easy-to-use platform, you’re able to consolidate the data you need and get regular, comprehensive restaurant reports that help you make informed decisions.

Free Scheduling Template

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