If you currently use a spreadsheet to organize shifts at your restaurant, switching to a scheduling app could increase your profits by helping you schedule employees more effectively.
Well, the way it makes your business more profitable is quite simple.
Scheduling apps help control how much is spent on labor, thereby have the potential to cut down on unnecessary labor costs.
The software also ensures that you always have enough staff on hand to serve all of your customers in a timely manner, thus maximizing sales and bettering your overall reputation - which we know in this day and age of social media can evidently make or break your brand.
Put together, reducing costs and increasing revenue will result in higher profits.
In this article, we’ll look at why you may want to switch from an excel spreadsheet to a scheduling app to organize shifts, as well as go into further detail about how scheduling apps improve profitability.
Many restaurant owners manually schedule shifts using a spreadsheet on a program like Excel or Google Sheets. For some restaurants, this can actually be an excellent way to organize their workforce, as these programs are either competitively priced or free.
Also, people typically live by the if it’s not broken, don’t fix it philosophy and do not see a need to implement a new system into their operational day-to-day systems.
When scheduling shifts utilizing such programs, you’ll usually use a spreadsheet template. In this template, a roster of every employed staff member should be included, as well as his/her preferred days off or when he/she is unavailable to work.
As a restaurant manager, you should create your schedule at least one week in advance, prior to the start of the following week. This allows plenty of time for employees to check and sign off on the schedule; this ensures happiness and satisfaction for both parties in management and staff.
After all members of the team have been logged one-by-one into the document, their assigned shifts and roles typically follow. This can be a time-consuming process, especially for larger establishments, but it is an absolute must when it comes to organization in the workplace, as well as avoids future confusion and mishaps.
On your spreadsheet, you can also include information such as the role of the employee and any special details (anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc.) that should be kept in mind when scheduling on days that also land on a special event.
Once you have created the schedule, you then need a way to share it with employees.
Because the schedule is being created from a personal digital platform, the only way for employees to access the new schedule is for management to print the schedule out, post it in a commonly frequented area of the restaurant’s back-of-house, and then instruct their team to take note of the following week’s schedule.
Another option is to send a mass email to your employees, provided you have every single member’s preferred and up-to-date address on file.
The Problem with This Method
There is nothing wrong with scheduling your shifts this way, especially if you are a smaller restaurant with only a few employees who generally work regular hours. In this case, it can be easy to duplicate the schedule from week-to-week with only minimal changes depending on when staff is available.
In many situations, however, it isn’t the optimal way to schedule staff. Manually creating a schedule to organize many employees can be time-consuming. It can also be difficult to make changes once the schedule is out.
As restaurant managers know, schedules do change. In fact, they change a lot. This is especially likely to be the case if you work with a lot of part-time employees who have other commitments such as family or school.
Schedule changes cause two main problems.
For one, any time you make a change, you’ll have to readjust the schedule and then resend it to your staff. If it is a last-minute change, you’ll also have to individually notify any affected employees to ensure they know about the change.
Secondly, it can be challenging to keep track of schedule requests and changes without having a system in place to manage them. Accounting for employee holidays, time-off requests, and sick days can cause a severe headache for managers that schedule using an Excel spreadsheet.
A final issue is that your spreadsheet is unlikely to be connected to the rest of your business. This means you’ll have to reenter all the data related to staffing and hours worked into relevant tools when it comes to, for example, payroll. Entering details manually is time-consuming and can lead to human error.
Scheduling apps are tools that simplify scheduling. They contain features like templates, employee request management, and budgeting. Combined, these features streamline the scheduling process.
They can be especially useful for restaurant owners who are worried they spend too much of their budget on labor or who have a large workforce that they struggle to manage.
While scheduling apps have many benefits, in this section we will focus specifically on how these scheduling apps can improve profitability.
The points we will focus on are how scheduling apps help control costs, help ensure you always have enough staff, save time, and reduce errors.
Control Restaurant Labor Costs
The two highest costs for restaurants are usually food costs and labor. The more you reduce the amount you spend on food and labor—without negatively affecting the customer experience—the more profitable your restaurant will be. Scheduling apps are a seriously beneficial and useful tool when it comes to controlling labor costs.
Instead of scheduling based on instinct or experience, scheduling apps have forecasting features that allow you to more accurately schedule staff. These forecasts will estimate how many staff members you need in each role for each shift at various times of the day.
By getting this right, you will avoid spending more than you need to on labor.
Additionally, these apps have budgeting tools that give you visibility into how much you are spending. Having this information on hand and clearly visible will help you plan your workforce more efficiently and makes it less likely you will spend more on staffing than you otherwise want to.
Scheduling apps will contain a running total of the amount you are spending on labor each week. They will also let you set up the percentage of sales you want to spend on labor to help you when making schedules.
Bring in Maximum Revenue
Of course, you don’t want cost-saving measures to reduce your ability to serve your customers. This could lead to fewer sales, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve. Schedule apps not only help you avoid being overstaffed but also help to ensure you still have enough staff on-demand to serve all your customers.
Having a workforce that isn’t overstretched is ultimately likely to lead these employees to provide customers with a better experience. This can lead to more loyal customers and repeat revenue.
Considering studies have found that repeat customers generally spend more than new customers, this can help increase profits over time.
Scheduling Apps Save You Time
As a restaurant manager or owner, a significant benefit of using a scheduling app is that they save you time.
Instead of having to manually create, share, and adjust schedules every week using an Excel spreadsheet, cloud-based apps allow you to develop and share schedules in minutes. If you ever have to make a change, it is automatically reflected to all employees, meaning you don’t have to worry about resending the timetable.
How does this increase profitability?
Well, let’s just say that nobody ever made money while building a schedule. Saving time on this activity allows you to focus on other areas of the business. For example, marketing, improving the customer experience, or menu development.
It’s worth noting that schedule apps don’t just save managers time. Those who work in pay-roll can automatically integrate data from the scheduling app into accounting software, while waitstaff and kitchen staff can check their schedules on the go and easily request adjustments where necessary.
Reduce Costly Errors
Errors cost your business money. Scheduling apps can reduce errors in several ways. Firstly, as mentioned above they decrease the chances that you will miss-judge how many staff members you need for a shift. This means you’re less likely to miss out on revenue from customers.
Additionally, the fact that the schedule is updated in real-time can reduce the chance of an employee not being aware that they should be working a certain shift.
A Walden University paper reported that absenteeism costs businesses in the restaurant industry 15 percent of profits each year, suggesting reducing absenteeism will increase profitability.
By automating payroll based on the data from the schedule app, you are also less likely to overpay employees when using a scheduling app.
Many restaurants are already working to razor-thin profit margins. Any tool that can increase these margins is going to be incredibly useful.
Scheduling apps do this by making it easier for you to manage shifts at your restaurant while saving you time and reducing errors.