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Restaurant Scheduling Tips For A More Productive Team

Restaurant Scheduling Tips For A More Productive Team

Crafting a restaurant schedule can be a challenging balancing act. Having too much staff on hand can affect the bottom line with excessive payroll, while too few staff can lead to unhappy customers and burned-out employees.

The flexibility is minimal, and the difficulty increases when the labor market is constricted. Even before the pandemic impacted the restaurant industry, employee retention was a growing issue in 2019.

Fast food restaurants experienced a 144% increased turnover rate with 70% more job vacancies than prior to the onset of the pandemic. 18% of hourly workers have since left the workforce.

The figures are alarming, particularly in light of the fact that they point to an escalating trend.

With an effective restaurant scheduling system, you can create an environment where employees feel empowered and in control of their lives. This will lead to better staff retention and provide you with the necessary data to make more informed decisions about workforce management and budgeting- all connected to the scheduling system.

We will provide training to ensure that your restaurant scheduling processes are optimized for efficiency.

Best Practices for Restaurant Scheduling

Hire the right employees for your needs

Addressing employee scheduling needs should begin at the hiring stage to avoid potential challenges. Establishing a well-defined process for scheduling staff is essential for successful onboarding.

Restaurant owners have identified hiring, training, and retaining staff as their greatest challenges. Hiring is key to addressing those issues, as inadequate training and high turnover can directly result from hiring the wrong person.

It is important to ensure the right staffing is in place from the onset in order to mitigate any potential disruption to scheduling that may arise from employee turnover. What strategies are in place to ensure the right people are hired?

  • Before you begin your search for potential employees, it is important to have a clear understanding of what you require. What flexibility are you able to offer? What shifts are non-negotiable? what are your non-negotiables, and which areas can you compromise on?
  • It is important to be clear about job expectations during the hiring process. Being truthful and transparent in setting expectations can help ensure that the applicant is aware of the full scope of the role and is better prepared for the job. Taking the time to be honest and be upfront with potential employees will help avoid
  • miscommunication or disappointment after starting the job. All parties must have a unified understanding of the role culture, expectations, and responsibilities. This should include the type of work, attendance, and reliability expected from each side.
  • When screening potential employees, ensure you understand their scheduling preferences and any limits that may be in place. This will help to avoid any potential conflicts or misunderstandings down the line. Taking the time to ensure the employee is a good fit for the position in terms of their availability can pay dividends in the long run.
  • When hiring, search for candidates who possess a strong work ethic and demonstrate self-motivation. It can be difficult to discern who is willing to put in the effort and who is not, as few will openly admit to being unmotivated. Open-ended questions can be used to assess the initiative of potential employees in order to gain insight into the prospective employee’s work ethic and inquire as to what steps they would take if they had completed their assigned tasks with no customers present rather than asking if they possess the capacity for self-motivation. This will provide a more comprehensive view.
  • Search for personnel who are open to new ideas. Seek out individuals prepared to undertake various responsibilities and work in different shifts. A desirable candidate should be willing to be adaptable in their availability and work, making the timetable much more efficient. Employees who are not flexible enough to host and bus tables may not fit the position.


In a constantly changing labor environment coupled with the typical scheduling difficulties, the most advantageous asset is a worker with an adaptable approach.

Provide restaurant schedules in advance

Adhering to a pre-determined timetable demonstrates consideration for one’s staff. 

Allowing for appropriate lead times helps to minimize last-minute panic and facilitates a more organized approach to managing workloads.

Adopting a pre-determined schedule can help reduce absenteeism, allowing employees to manage their childcare, appointments, and holidays effectively.

Establishing a consistent approach to scheduling and the timing of its release can give employees a sense of control and stability, enabling them to plan their personal lives better.

Still not convinced?

In recent years, predictive scheduling laws have been adopted in response to employee requests for increased scheduling stability. Managing one’s budget and planning for the future is difficult without a regular income. Therefore, having a last-minute, unpredictable work schedule can be detrimental.

Interact with your employee

As the environment evolves, so too do expectations, procedures, and the daily lives of those in the workplace.

Unless the changes are effectively communicated, nobody will be aware of them. Maintaining communication is essential from the initial hiring process and beyond.

Ensuring ongoing communication with employees is imperative in times of difficulty and workforce shortage. Rather than simply providing shifting schedules that may be confusing, it is important to explain how the situation affects the schedule and workplace.

Effective communication is a two-way street, naturally.

Inquire with your shift supervisor as to the efficacy of the current restaurant schedule.

The shift manager expressed that their primary concern was employees exchanging shifts without giving notice to the current manager on duty. This appears to be an issue with effective communication.

Employees should have a straightforward channel to communicate with supervisors about any changes in their personal life that may affect their work schedule. Creating an environment that encourages open communication is important, so employees feel comfortable discussing potential conflicts.

Optimizing communication is essential for personal success. Utilizing too many channels (such as email, text, phone calls, and messaging services) can be counterproductive and lead to confusion. To ensure effective communication, it is best to streamline communication channels to reduce friction.

An effective communication strategy featuring a convenient platform is the ideal solution, providing convenience to employees and management.

The inclusion of communication tools within our restaurant scheduling software reflects the importance of communication for effective scheduling. Making communication an integral component of the workforce planning process is essential.

Efficient communication must be maintained throughout the team, between subgroups, and with individual employees. Staff members must be able to raise any issues concerning their working hours.

Employees must communicate securely with one another regarding their schedules, shift changes, and any other relevant matters without disclosing their personal contact information.

Cross-Train Your Employees

Working with fewer bussers during the busiest night of the week can significantly slow down table turnover times. This can lead to a longer wait period for guests expecting to be seated much sooner.

To prevent a buildup of customers, it is important to ensure that your food runners, servers, and front-of-house managers are well-versed in bussing. This will enable them to help with clearing tables when necessary, allowing the waiting area to be emptied more quickly and ultimately leading to higher customer satisfaction.

Cross-training restaurant staff can be invaluable for career progression. In busy periods, a busser or food runner can be tasked with greeting and attending to customers, thereby gaining first-hand experience in customer interaction.

The hostess should be aware of the evening drink specials so guests can be informed without having to call over a server. This helps to keep staff productivity high and prepares them for potential career growth within the restaurant.

Schedule in advance

It is both the best practice and the legal requirement to provide employees with their schedules two weeks in advance in many cities. Doing so offers dual advantages:

Providing employees with sufficient notice of their work schedule will improve team morale. This allows them to plan days off to spend with family and friends or on vacation.

It is important to plan vacations in advance to reap the most benefit. While you may not be able to plan for another, giving them sufficient notice can help them make the necessary arrangements.

By scheduling shifts in advance, you can reduce the need for last-minute decisions and provide yourself with ample time to make any necessary changes to the schedule. This will help ensure that shifts are filled in a timely manner.

Schedule with empathy

Best practices for restaurant scheduling involve balancing customer and employee needs with operational efficiency. Empathy is key for effective scheduling.  

By taking the time to understand your employees’ needs, such as personal preferences, you can ensure that their schedules are fair and considerate. Additionally, think about the customer experience when creating the schedule. 

Assign shifts evenly across the day to ensure the restaurant is adequately staffed, and consider the peak periods to ensure you are adequately prepared. 

Keep communication open with employees and customers to ensure everyone is on the same page and to keep any scheduling changes running smoothly. Scheduling with empathy for best practices sets the stage for a successful restaurant.

Use an auto-scheduler

Using an auto-scheduler is an excellent best practice for restaurant scheduling. This technology streamlines the process of creating efficient and equitable schedules, allowing management to focus more energy on other aspects of the business. 

An auto-scheduler can help to reduce labor costs and employee fatigue while increasing customer satisfaction. With its ability to account for different labor rules and employee preferences, it can also help to reduce scheduling conflicts and provide more accurate shift coverage.

Furthermore, the auto-scheduler supports managers in setting up team meetings and making real-time adjustments to the schedule as needed. In short, an auto-scheduler is a valuable tool to help ensure a successful, profitable, and enjoyable dining experience for all involved.

Consider the needs of all staff members

Best practices for restaurant scheduling should consider the needs of all staff members. 

This includes ensuring shift length and scheduling flexibility are available to accommodate different needs. Utilizing a system that allows managers to track each staff member’s availability, preferences, and skills is essential. 

The schedule should be discussed with employees and adjusted to ensure adequate rest and vacation time.

Additionally, managers should allow employees to swap shifts if possible to accommodate their needs while ensuring shifts are covered. 

Finally, providing a well-structured system that is easy to understand, leaves adequate time for breaks, and uses predictive data to adjust staffing levels will help ensure the best outcomes for the staff and the restaurant.

Give Everyone A Chance To Work A High-Dollar Shift

Regarding restaurant scheduling, it is important to ensure that all staff members are given a chance to work a high-dollar shift. 

This can be done by ensuring each team member has the necessary skills, knowledge, and aptitude to work these high-dollar shifts. 

It is important to ensure everyone has a fair opportunity to work the shifts that earn the most money and to create a team environment where everyone can contribute. 

Additionally, it is important to ensure that everyone is given adequate time off and that their hours are balanced to avoid burnout. This will ensure all staff members are properly motivated and equipped to perform their best. 

Moreover, it is also important to train and support all staff members to ensure they can work high-dollar shifts. Doing so will help create a positive and productive work environment for all.

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