Effective scheduling for restaurants is a core management task
If you’ve just been handed the keys to the restaurant and you’re now a manager, you may be wondering how to write your first schedule.
What inevitably happens when new managers are promoted is that the schedule becomes chaos and staff become rightly upset. No one is getting the days and shifts they are used to or enough rest. They’re moving their personal life around to suit the chaotic schedule so they’ve got other things on their mind when they come to work.
The way you schedule effects the lives of restaurant staff
If your goal is to provide excellent customer service and create an environment where your staff can consistently bring their A-game you need to be mindful of how your scheduling effects overall restaurant performance.
This guide will help you write schedules that keep your restaurant and bar staff happy, which means better a better service and more enthusiastic guests.
As a restaurant manager, what you don’t want to have an ambivalent attitude toward your staff’s scheduling needs. They have lives outside of the restaurant – other jobs, school, family and community obligations, etc.
Restaurant managers schedule despite many demands
The life obligations of servers and cooks should be respected so that when they’re on shift, the only thing they are thinking about is providing the best service they can.
If they are worried if they can find a babysitter on short notice or someone to pick up their dog from the vet, if they can leave their other job early or any of the other obligations people have when they are not at the restaurant, then they are not thinking about service.
This is also the reason that restaurant scheduling is so demanding. Everyone’s availability is different. Some people can work 7 days a week, some can only work 2. We’ll talk about how to resolve these conflicts in the next section.
Be aware, even the best-laid plans of a restaurant manager are subject to last minute changes, and you need to have a backup plan in place should you get a last minute call-in.
You also need to know how much staff it takes to run a good service – not too few people and not too many. Labor is expensive but so is losing guests to poor service. And too many under-staffed shifts will likely drive away some of your workers.
There’s no surer sign to restaurant staff that they are on a sinking ship than poor scheduling that causes them to:
Miss important events
Puts the kitchen in the weeds
Creates a sub-par guest experience
How to do restaurant schedulingright
Create a Master List– Get a complete list of scheduling preferences and availability from each member of staff. Tell them that this is what their shifts will be based on so they’d better be sure that they are ready to work these hours.
Use the Master List to write your Master Schedule. This is the best way to see who’s available to work shifts. Pull your weekly schedules from the options available to you in the Master List when run against the time off requests.
Time off requests are only requests– Make it clear to staff that they are expected to be available to work the hours they’ve submitted as “ideal” for them. And if their availability changes they’re supposed to submit their new availability in writing.
However, everyone does have things come up and need to request time off. All requests should be submitted before the schedule is written.The best way to field requests for days off is to have a request log.
This can be a paper calendar with a notes section below, that’s left in the back. Why this is important is that other workers can see when requests have been made. If they see that three other servers have already requested the night off, they may not submit a request.
The main thing is creating one place to contain the requests that is public. The last thing you want is a disorganized request system where you’re stuck with a handful of random pieces of paper, emails and text messages before you set out to write your week’s schedule.
Important scheduling considerations– When you set out the write the week’s schedule you need a systematic approach. Take out your Master Schedule and go down the line.
Start by scheduling the managers– Since they should be more reliable, you can count on them to work a regular schedule. Also, there should always be at least one manager on shift, so why not start there?
Schedule senior staff next– Giving your senior staff their preferences for working shifts rewards their loyalty and dependability.
Know how many people you need– This comes with experience and data. Take note of superior services, who was on shift and how many people you had working in the kitchen and in the dining room. Use this information to get a ratio of staff to guests. When you’re able to project future covers, then you’ll be able to schedule staff accordingly.
Avoid close - opens– There is no way someone operating on zero sleep is going to be able to bust their backside for a stellar service. Burning out your employees by expecting them to do so is a dangerous game that will cause your service to suffer.
You can’t always please everyone– Sometimes you’re going to hit a wall even with the best planning ahead. Do what you can to make it work but realize that it’s a compromise that can have long-term effects on the quality of service your guests receive and can strain your relationship with staff.
By following this system for restaurant scheduling, it will help you organize time off requests, schedule around unforeseen events and maximize the productivity of your restaurant staff. We hope these tips help you have a fantastic service!