Creating employee schedules can be a relatively simple task, but many factors come into play when building a cost efficient schedule. Sure, you can scribble some names on a printed spreadsheet, but what business owner doesn’t want at least a little thought put into the scheduling process?
A few weeks back we talked about successful scheduling. Today we will elaborate on that and give you a few more tips to help get the job done right. These tactics will not only help you reduce your labor cost; they’ll aid in promoting an ideal work environment for your employees.
First and foremost, you must project your sales for upcoming weeks. If you have no indication of what your sales will be, how will you know how much labor to schedule? Having an idea of your restaurant’s expected future sales suggests the necessary amount of labor required to cover those sales. If you’re creating a schedule for the first week of August, look at your sales for the first week of August last year. Were they high, low, or just average? It’s also a good idea to review sales for the past 2 to 4 weeks as well and see how they compare. If you have access to old schedules, take a look at the schedule for that week last year too.
If your restaurant has seen a significant amount of growth in the past year, perhaps last year’s sales won’t give you an accurate forecast. If this is the case, project sales based on the most recent month. For instance, let’s say you’re projecting sales for the first Friday in August. You would refer to the first Friday in July, and use those sales figures to get your forecast.
When it comes to creating schedules for peak weekends and holidays, it is always best to refer to last year’s sales during those days to get the most accurate forecast.
Take Employee Availability into Account
While your employees are legally your employees, they still have personal lives outside of work. They have families, perhaps a second job or school, and other obligations besides working in your restaurant. Make an effort to create schedules that not only work for you and your restaurant, but also for your employees. Have employees send you their times of unavailability and requested days off via email, or perhaps you prefer to have them written on a calendar in your office. Find a system that works for you and stick to it. Doing so will not only improve employee morale, it will also help in reducing no-shows and cultivate employee accountability. When employees feel appreciated, loyalty is established, and a positive work environment for employees is created. Remember, happy employees = happy customers.
Know Your Business
You know your business better than anyone. Use your knowledge to your advantage. Take into consideration your peak business hours while creating schedules. For most of you, sales are highest during lunch and dinner times, but if your restaurant operates under a different concept, your peak hours may be during breakfast or late night hours.
Many restaurants, specifically large chains and franchises, have corporate guidelines for labor goal percentages. If your company wants labor to account for 20% or less of sales, create a schedule that follows these guidelines. Abiding by such criteria can be difficult if calculations and projections are done by hand, but there are tools available to help simplify the process.
Tie Any Loose Ends
Do you remember your 5th grade teacher ingraining “Double-check your work” into your head? Well, she might have been onto something, as the same principle applies here. Once you’ve created next week’s schedule, it’s important that you go back and check for any errors. Make sure that there are no gaps in coverage. In other words, you don’t want the cook scheduled to leave at 5:00 with the next cook not clocking in until 7:00, as this might cause some major issues for obvious reasons.
Something else important to consider is employee overtime and labor laws. Each state differs in their labor laws, so take the time to read up on your state’s rules and restrictions. Other than the legality of the matter, overtime means higher labor costs for business. Do yourself a favor, and double-check that none of your employees will reach overtime with the schedule you’ve created. You’ll be glad you did.
One Last Thing
Overseeing a restaurant, regardless of its size, can be tough profession, and scheduling employees is just one of your many to-do’s. There is no 9-5, Monday-Friday routine. You’re on call all day, every day, but remember one thing; you’re in the position you’re in because YOU earned it. You have the power to promote good will, success, and passion throughout your organization.
Oh, and one more thing, happy scheduling!