If you asked your managers, “What's one task you do weekly that takes up most of your time?” there’s a good chance they’ll respond, without hesitation, “the schedule.”
For many restaurants, scheduling manually takes hours every week, and in the end, may not be serving anyone very well, leaving a trail of inefficiencies or upset guests and team members behind it.
If this is the year you’re determined to find a better way, you probably won’t need much convincing about the benefits of restaurant scheduling software after reading these six advantages of automating employee schedules.
1. Aces in their places
Automated scheduling does something not all managers consider – it not only schedules number of people needed for each shift, but also the level of skill you need on the floor.
With restaurant scheduling software like Ameego, employee profiles that are unique to each team member are created and they house important information like:
- Shifts based on skill level (e.g. can work a four table, but not five table section)
- Departmental shifts (e.g. can work server and cocktail shifts but not bartender)
- Availability (e.g. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday between 10-4pm)
- Time-off requests,which they can upload in the employee portal
- Number of preferred shifts (e.g. open availability but only want to work three times/week)
With Ameego’s one-touch scheduling, the software evaluates the shift profiles you need to fill, and fills the hardest ones first, like Sunday Brunch. Staff are only scheduled for shifts that are in their profile. So, a hostess wouldn’t be assigned to serve on the patio, and three new servers still being trained wouldn’t be assigned to peak times like Friday happy hour.
It’s not just scheduling faster, it’s scheduling smarter. You’ve got leaders where they need to be and the right skill levels on the floor to ensure the shift runs smoothly, giving guests the kind of service that will keep them coming back.
Another perk of automated scheduling with these profiles is that the system helps identify staffing gaps, and when you need to hire more people.
2. Labour control
This might be the biggest reason why owners and managers never revert back to manual scheduling once they try automated scheduling: labour cost control. Now that you’ve got that deep historical data, you can make more accurate sales projections for any given week. Let’s say that number is $73,000. Here’s where it gets simple, and valuable.
- Input you projected sales into Ameego
- Input your labour percentage goal (scheduling managers can only schedule according to the budget approved by the GM)
- Let Ameego schedule staff within that budget, and ensure you stick to it with ongoing notifications and real-time projected numbers versus actual adjustments that are made last-minute throughout the week
- Instead of ‘scheduling in the dark,’ Ameego schedules to your sales and budget
3. Overtime watch
It’s easy, in this flying-on-your-feet industry, to ask one or two servers to stay an extra hour tonight, a bartender tomorrow, three servers on Saturday, and before you know it, your labour costs are way over budget.
With automated scheduling, you have the numbers and tools at your hands to make decisions that will allow you to avoid overtime costs. For example, there are settings to control the maximum number of hours a week an employee can receive without going into overtime. This setting automatically prevents any overtime from being scheduled without first notifying the manager! And, when overtime is needed, managers would receive notifications and warnings that they are about to schedule overtime.
If you choose a restaurant scheduling software like Ameego that can integrate with your POS system, you can take advantage of ‘the schedule push’– employees can log in only when their shift is scheduled to start, instead of 15 minutes earlier, which could tip them into overtime. The same capabilities that help you avoid overtime costs also help prevent time theft and foster accurate time tracking in general.
4. Staff satisfaction
Next to recognition, getting employees into stable shifts that suit their lives is one of the easiest ways to improve staff happiness, leading to higher retention.
Restaurant scheduling software makes it easy for managers to:
- Create schedules well in advance: when it only takes you minutes to create the perfect schedule (everybody is where they should be and when they want to be), it only takes a few clicks for you to create and share the schedule. That means you’re more likely to do it in advance, which gives staff more time to plan, and that tends to make staff happy.
- Schedule according to availability:since each staff profile includes the days and times they can’t work, your automated scheduler won’t let you put them in shifts when they’re unavailable.
- Manage and grant time-off requests: employees can easily upload requests through the employee portal and all managers have to do is hit ‘approve.’
- Communicate quickly and easily:when something comes up, and things always do, it’s easy for you and your team to get a hold of each other through mobile-friendly notifications.
5. No over or under scheduling
A lot of manual restaurant employee scheduling is really just guessing. We know this because we’ve been there!
You continue doing what you’ve always done simply because that’s the way you’ve done it, and if there are slow days or crazy rushes, well, you roll with it. With scheduling software, you’ll know exactly how many staff you need on the floor, not just for the day, but right down to every 15 minutes. Ameego allows you to make informed choices based on historical sales data that can dive past sales, all the way to meal counts for the quarter hour.
This isn’t just a Saturday in March you’re scheduling for, it’s 11:30 am on the March 16 you’ve been talking about, and now you’ve got a whole new level of insight at your fingertips. With that, you can ensure shifts begin and end when you’ll actually need those specific people on the floor. You’re always just a few clicks away from the perfect schedule.
6. Time savings
Let’s face it, trying to do all of the above on your own every week or every other week would take hours, and it’s not apt to be as proactive about balancing costs and skills on the floor. Ameego isn’t looking to replace any of your managers who handle scheduling, it’s simply giving them more time to spend on guests rather than sitting in an office doing paperwork.
If you're saving hours per week on scheduling, what could your managers be doing instead? Over the course of a year, that's over 100+ hours that can be redistributed from sitting on the computer, into driving better results at your restaurant.
That's quite a return on investment!