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Restaurant Management Tips: The Art of Scheduling

The food service industry can be a brutal business, and sometimes the differences between making it and breaking are very, very thin.  As the manager, you have a lot on your plate – from training and supervising employees to running budgets and purchasing new equipment and supplies.  This series is intended to help you navigate the treacherous waters of restaurant management.

The Art of Scheduling

Payroll is the largest single expense category for any restaurant or commercial kitchen.  It is therefore extremely important, especially in a period of downturn, to manage this expense effectively.

On the other hand, the kitchen, bar, and wait staff you employ are what make your business tick and your personal connection with these people is an important dynamic.  Balancing personal relationships with labor cost management is one of the more difficult aspects of being a food service manager.

Here are some tips to help you walk that tight rope:

Evaluate how much work needs to be done. As you know very well, different times of day, days in a week, and times of month and year can see very different sales volumes.

Scheduling StaffOne of the most common mistakes made in staff management is overscheduling, and you won’t know how many people to schedule unless you can predict sales volume on a given day.

Keep a record of sales so that you can evaluate when your peak sales periods are.

Next, go through a list of your available staff and rank them according to ability. It’s very important to be objective and put personal relationships aside and create an accurate ranking.

Once you can predict sales peaks and valleys, and know the number and quality of staff available to you, you can start creating a schedule that will meet peak demands without having to pay extra staff.

Scheduling is a fine art. You have already ranked your employees and know when peak demand times will occur.  Now it’s time to start matching staff with sales volume.

The trick is to make sure you always have top performing staff around for busy times, which will allow you to reduce the overall staff scheduled for peak sales periods.  Top employees perform many different tasks efficiently, and can help less experienced staff members so you don’t have to.

These employees are the fulcrum of your business, and you want to make sure they are there when you’re making the most money.

Conversely, less experienced staff are never going to develop into top staff if they always have someone there to hold their hand.  Slow and moderate sales days are a great time to schedule these employees and give your top staff the day off.

You can take advantage of the relatively slow activity to train and get to know your newest staff members, improving retention and performance during peak times.

Also update your schedules periodically. Over time factors like sales and staff performance will change, and you’ll need to adjust your scheduling accordingly.

Staff scheduling should be an ongoing process that you constantly refine to make sure your business is maximizing sales.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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One comment

  1. Sounds like you know a lot about serving

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