June 5, 2012

Guest Blog Post: Good Scheduling Makes For A Good Restaurant Business


From hiring, training, and supervising employees to controlling a budget while maintaining restaurant equipment and supplies, managing a restaurant today is tough. Making or breaking it in the industry is separated by an ever-thinning line, and the rise of new technology coupled with a new generation of employees can be a daunting combination.

Fortunately, while the game is changing, many of the basics will always stay the same. You’ll always need reliable staff to run your equipment and cater to your customers. Hands down, a well-trained and satisfied staff is one of the most important pieces to your overall restaurant puzzle, and scheduling your staff effectively is up to you.

Here are some pointers for making the most of your scheduling.

Get professional help 

Your best bet for creating an amazing schedule that works for you is to use professional scheduling software. Though the sea of scheduling software is packed with fish of all shapes and sizes, hooking a reliable workforce solution like Humanity is extremely helpful. Weigh your options and choose the software that works best for your needs.

Evaluate staff skills 

Ranking your staff based on their skill set helps you clearly see how many hands you have and where you can use them most effectively. When looking at skills objectively like this you have to keep personal feelings and preferences out of the picture to get the most accurate information. Ranking someone higher on your list, and giving them more duties and responsibilities, just because you like them is a quick road to poor performance.

After all, you’re paying your staff to do a good job. If someone isn’t qualified to do a particular job, but you’re still paying them to do it, you’re spending money for them to do sub-par work. Placing people where they’ll do the most good is crucial. Additionally, if you’ve evaluated staff skills you can easily determine where a little extra training would be beneficial.

Don’t overschedule

Overscheduling is the fastest way to shell out money that doesn’t need to be spent. Unfortunately, restaurants do not operate in a vacuum, and the ebb and flow of business can differ drastically from hour to hour, day to day, month to month, and year to year. The smartest way to determine what your schedule needs in order to accommodate inconsistent business is to predict your sales volume.

Keep a thorough record of your sales during the year and break out the books when you’re creating schedules. Being able to evaluate when your peak sales periods are based on reliable numbers and data is essential to determine when you’ll need extra help and when you can lighten up the schedule.

Schedule wisely

Once you’ve evaluated the quality of your staff and mapped out the peaks and valleys of your yearly sales you can craft your schedule with confidence. It’s a good idea to schedule your top-performing employees during your busiest times. Use your star performers to help run the show. When things get busy this effectively reduces the need to have more people on the schedule.

All-around excellent employees, like the ones at the top of your evaluation list, are best suited for peak business hours because they’re able to perform a number of different tasks skillfully while lending a helping hand to less experienced staff members. Also, your top performers are the best way to represent your business. When things get busy, customers want to see employees who know what they’re doing and can do it quickly and with a smile, not someone who’s tripping over themselves and can’t seem to get the order right.

The flip-side of this scheduling coin is that more inexperienced employees don’t have the chance to evolve into top performers if someone is always holding their hand. To help these employees develop skills and train for those “where did all these people come from” times it’s smart to schedule them on slower, more moderate days. This is a great way to get to know your new employees better and give them a chance to hone their skills.


Staff scheduling shouldn’t be a one-time-is-enough experience. It’s important to update schedules periodically to accommodate changing staff performance and sales variables. Approach your scheduling as an ongoing process that needs continual revision to hold the most value. As a fresh employee, the more constructive attention you pay to your schedule the more it works for you. With payroll being the largest single expense in any restaurant or commercial kitchen in a given month you can’t afford to have a half thought out schedule holding your payroll budget hostage. Be smart, take your time, and create a schedule that you can be proud of.


Andrew Call provides blog insights regarding restaurant management and marketing at The Back Burner. The top-rated food service blog is written by the employees of Tundra Restaurant Supply, a company specializing in restaurant equipment, supplies, parts, and a wide variety of food service sundries.