management | 4 mins read

What Employee Scheduling is Really Costing You & How to Fix It

Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco

Many restaurants operate on slim profit margins roughly between 2-6 percent. This range indicates that if a particular factor is not generating profits for your restaurant, then whatever that aspect may be is probably costing you money.

For instance, take a look at your employee schedule. Every restaurant has to do scheduling to meet the business goals and satisfy the needs of each customer. The catch is not every manager realizes that improper and mismanaged scheduling is a potential source of lost income.

However, every mistake also provides you with the opportunity to rectify and correct your errors so that you can maximize your restaurant's profitability.

That being said, let's take a look at 3 major scheduling mistakes that restaurant managers make and how they can fix them to improve their bottom line.

Staffing Based on Intuition, Instead of Data

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Gut feeling and intuition may prove beneficial to optimum scheduling if your restaurant is generating the same volume of profits every day for the past few years, but we all know that this is impossible.

The restaurant industry is highly unpredictable, and you can't rely on just your gut and intuition to make the decisions that are essential to your business and profits. Scheduling extra employees just because your gut is telling you that it will be busy the next week may hurt your profits due to overspending on labor.

How to Fix This
The best approach to restaurant scheduling is relying on sales data, which can predict an accurate scheduling forecast. This approach is quantitative rather than qualitative and is based on real data from your sales reports.

You may begin by observing your POS records from the past scheduling periods. Do you see any noticeable trends? Next, have a look at your labor costs, is there any room for improvement that would better fit your sales data. Once you have considered and analyzed all the previous sales data, you can then start making an accurate, data-backed schedule that won't rely on just your intuition.

This will also help you if scheduling decisions backfire (which often happens in the restaurant industry). When the scheduling goes awry, you can easily explain that to stakeholders by telling them that your decisions were based on previous sales data and forecast, not your gut feelings.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Not Realizing the Value of Your Time

According to a study, an average restaurant operator spends three hours every week, creating schedules. This may not seem like a whole lot of time, but another aspect that needs to be factored in is the proceeding steps, like updating schedules, approving swapped shifts, and making calls to confirm employee availability.

As a restaurant manager, your time is more valuable than you may realize. You can't afford to spend 3 hours per week on creating schedules, in addition to chasing down employees to ask about availability.

This time can be spent on much more profitable and productive activities like streamlining operations, interacting with your customers, or training with your staff.

How to Fix This
There is a straightforward fix for this problem online scheduling software. Great scheduling software can help you take care of these scheduling issues very quickly. You can create automated schedules, virtually notify your employees of changes, and manage employee availability with the help of such software applications.

In addition to that, this software typically integrates with your POS system to generate useful sales reports.

Ineffective Communication

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The restaurant industry has the highest staff turnover rates than any other industry. Some of it can be attributed to seasonal hiring, but the major reason is employee retention and satisfaction.

Another reason for high turnover rates is staff miscommunication and scheduling conflicts. If your employees struggle to stay up to date on their work schedule whether due to lack of communication or not following up with management then they will be more likely to quit or potentially let go.

How to Fix This
The only remedy to this problem is effective communication. Communication is the most critical tool for every business, and that is why you must have no communication barrier between you and your staff.

To communicate the schedule to your team in real-time, you need to find a reliable way to tell your staff about their schedules well in advance. Again, scheduling software is your best bet to achieve this. The software can send notifications to your team about their schedules and any changes that you may have made.

This way, you'll be able to let your staff know that you care about them and their time and you don't take them for granted. Now, if that doesn't keep your employees from leaving, nothing will.


To recap, the following are the three areas where you should always remember about employee scheduling

  1. Always make schedules based on real-time sales data, rather than just winging it based on and intuition.
  2. Integrate scheduling software to generate schedules so that your time can be spent on other pressing tasks.
  3. Communicate with your team daily and make an effort to communicate with your employees about scheduling updates well in advance.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

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