Time is Money: How Restaurant Time Tracking Streamlines Operations and Boosts Profits

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Phil Sykora
June 3, 2024
A restaurant employee is checking his schedule on an iPad in the kitchen.

Technology has infiltrated every aspect of the modern economy – and restaurant time tracking is no exception. Employee time tracking dates back to 1888, when Willard L. Bundy built a clock inside of a wooden cabinet with slots for paper timecards. Time tracking has now evolved into advanced software that eliminates many of the problems associated with old-school punch-clock systems.

In this article, we’ll be talking about how restaurants can utilize restaurant time tracking software to streamline operations, automate labor law compliance, and boost profits. 

What is Restaurant Time Tracking?

Restaurant time tracking, true to its name, refers to any system that restaurant owners and managers use to track employees’ time. In the past, this was usually a paper-and-pen manual punch-clock system. Today, it typically refers to some sort of time tracking technology or software.

Now in our digital age, time tracking technology and software are becoming more and more sophisticated, allowing business owners and restaurant managers to save time and money. Some of the most recent developments include:

  • Face ID. According to the 2022 Biometric Technology Rally, facial recognition software accurately identifies users 97.4% of the time. Over the past several years, every new iPhone includes it as a feature. Facial recognition software alone eliminates “buddy punching,” which is when one employee asks another employee to clock in for them, resulting in additional wage expenses for someone who isn’t actually working.
  • Geofencing. Geofencing is a GPS time-clock feature. Users download an app that shares their location with their employer. This way, users can’t clock in unless they’re within the geographical boundary established by the employer. If they’re running late, there’s no way to clock in until they actually get to the job site.
  • Automation. With the rise of AI in scheduling and data analysis, software can make projections for how busy certain days are likely to be and make suggestions on employee workloads.
A restaurant employee is clocking in with Face ID time tracking technology.

Why is Time Tracking Important in Restaurants?

Effective time tracking is one of the most important things that restaurant managers can do. Without an accurate idea of how many hours your employees have worked, cash flow issues stack up, disagreements between management and staff become more frequent, and the managers and staff lose valuable time that could be better spent on virtually anything else.

It’s so important, in fact, that virtually all employees expect zero issues with their paychecks. According to the US Census Bureau, 93% of employees expect to be paid on time, every time. Employee turnover is one of the top reasons that restaurants fail – and workers aren’t likely to stick around very long if they aren’t being paid accurately and on time. With the average employee turnover at only 110 days and the average cost of hiring a new employee in the hospitality industry at $5,864, this directly affects the bottom line in a significant way.

Problems with Manual Time Tracking

When you rely on a paper-and-pen system for time tracking, inaccuracy is very prevalent. Employees become much more likely to misrepresent how many hours they’ve worked, and owners can be guilty of stealing hours from employees, as well. Employers admit to taking time off of employee timesheets after they’ve been submitted, resulting in $22 billion of wage theft. Meanwhile, employees admit to misrepresenting how many hours they’ve worked, resulting in $11 billion of time theft. This creates an unnecessary push-and-pull between the employer and the employee that could be better solved by a more objective time-tracking software. As we’ve mentioned above, this option also eliminates the potential for “buddy punching,” further cutting back on fraud.

Furthermore, software systems can work together to eliminate inefficiencies associated with paper schedules. For example, time tracking software can integrate with scheduling software to alert managers when employees have clocked in early, when they haven’t clock in on time, and when they work far past their scheduled workday. This gives managers and owners more time to focus on what matters most. Instead of sifting through a dozen different Excel sheets, managers can have the alert sent straight to their phones.

Finally, when it comes to analyzing the data, there are limited insights to be gleaned from a paper system. Software can make those insights for you, analyzing labor costs and more.

What Are the Benefits of Using Restaurant Time Tracking Software?

With an effective time tracking system in place, restaurants will be able to streamline operations and boost profits. Time tracking software allows businesses to amplify profits while keeping liabilities and disagreements to a minimum.

  1. Payroll Management. Time tracking systems ensure that workers are paid for the time that they’ve worked. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is only $2.13, which can cause some owners and managers to have a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to tracking how many hours their servers are actually clocked in. However, this could result in disagreements down the line.
  2. Labor Law Compliance. If restaurants aren’t keeping track of overtime pay, workers certainly are. According to QuickBooks, FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) lawsuits are up a whopping 417%. While the average worker is likely to overlook a couple of accounting errors come payday (as long as they’re corrected), you might be paid a visit from the Department of Labor if it becomes a regular issue. Even when mistakes are completely unintentional, they can cost owners significant time and money if they don’t have a reliable system in place.
  3. Data Insights. Not only can time tracking software help you with payroll and compliance, but it can also provide valuable insights. No restaurant wants to be understaffed during peak hours (or vice versa) and software can work together with a POS system to analyze your labor vs. sales data, ensuring that you have the right amount of workers at the right time.

A screenshot of a restaurant's labor vs. sales data from their time tracking software.

How Can I Implement an Employee Time Tracking Software?

Implementing a time tracking software is actually easier than most people think. In fact, it’s often easier than managing a manual time tracking system. 

Push’s time tracking software offers mobile clock-ins for employees and utilizes advanced facial recognition software to eliminate buddy punching. Our system also integrates with our payroll software, allowing business owners and managers to save up to 6 hours per week and run payroll in just minutes.

If you’re interested in implementing a time tracking software, book a demo with us today. 

Things to Consider Before Investing in Time Tracking Software

What are some common things you should consider before implementing a time tracking software?

1. Will It Integrate With My Existing Software?

If you’re already using software to manage payroll or keep track of expenses, you should consider how well this newer software will work with your existing systems. While the potential time savings sounds great, if you have to spend time juggling three different software programs, the juice might not be worth the squeeze.

2. How Many Employees Do I Have?

If you only have 3-4 employees, the insights afforded by a time tracking software are limited. While it’s almost undoubtedly better than keeping track of everything manually, you won’t have the same benefits as a larger restaurant. For example, Push saved one Denny’s franchise over 15,600 hours

3. Are My Employees Tech-Savvy?

Finally, it’s important to consider how well your employees will grasp the tools. While time tracking software can improve labor law compliance and make payroll a breeze, that’s only true if your employees are actually using it to clock in. If the employees themselves aren’t clocking in properly, it can create a bigger headache for management. However, time tracking software is easier than ever to use – so it’s very uncommon that this is a significant issue.

A restaurant employee is tying a striped apron behind their back in the kitchen.

Final Thoughts on Streamlining Operations with Restaurant Time Tracking Software

Time tracking software saves employers time and money by eliminating buddy punching, encouraging compliance with labor laws, and making scheduling much easier and faster. From facial recognition to automated data analysis, this software has the ability to streamline operations and boost profits. 

As the summer restaurant season picks up, managers need every tool they can get to make sure that they’re properly staffed and optimally efficient. Push’s time tracking software integrates with our payroll software, offering managers an all-in-one solution for a variety of mundane, time-consuming people management tasks. If you’re interested, book a demo with us today to learn more.

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June 2024


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