Staffing a restaurant is a very difficult task. There are so many variables that go into the restaurant business. The variables can come in all shapes and sizes with every one of them giving a chance for error to a proper restaurant service. Just a few of the things that can influence your business that may or may not be in your control: food delivery, beverage delivery, staff attendance, the weather, sporting events, live events, pandemics, no show guests, no show employees, power outage, music issues, plumbing issues, wobbly tables, WIFI failures, POS shut downs, gas issues, broken equipment, traffic accidents, protests, weddings, special events along with competitors just to name a few off the top of the head.
With that many variables to control for a successful dining service, it is paramount to do you your absolute best to combat what you can control. To do this well takes a lot of work on the front end of things. Too many restaurant leaders let the day-to-day grind get the best of them and fly by the seat of their pants hoping everything works out. This leads to confusion, disgruntled staff, poor dining service and a loss of profits.
What to do about it
- Be honest- Be up front with your staff about the difficulties of staffing. When you hire certain positions, let them know that there is a chance their shifts will be called off on occasion. This is a great opportunity to let your staff know you are doing everything you can to help schedule them accurately. No one should be surprised when they lose a shift or when a shift becomes available.
- Do your homework- As a management team, you need to invest the time to forecast as accurately as possible. You should know if there are live events going on in the area or when there is a sporting event people will want to watch on your TVs. Do your best to research things that can influence your sales such as weather forecasting and past experience.
- Invest in tools- There are multiple tools available to help improve your forecasting with data. Toast or Open Table and many other companies offer plenty of great ways to help forecast your restaurant sales. From using past sales data, guest covers, notes from previous shifts with similar variables you can help stay ahead of the curve on scheduling accurately.
- Schedule in advance- Your employees should know their schedules two weeks ahead of time. Obviously, they will know that is suspect to change but the basic framework of their lives should be set with 2 weeks of advanced notice. If you expect a 2 week notice when they leave, your employees should expect a two week notice for their day to day lives.
- Continue to experiment- Make it a discussion topic with your staff. Find out what works and what doesn’t. This circles back to being honest. There is no perfect restaurant system out there. There are constant ways to improve how you accomplish tasks within a restaurant. The key thing here is to keep notes on what you do so you don’t just go in circles trying the same things over and over again.
With so many variables to consider, you will run into mismanaged shifts. It is bound to happen. The key thing is to learn from each and every experience and apply it to a future successful shift. By lowering your turnover, these hiccups will become less frequent as your staff learns how best to improve together. By forecasting and scheduling accurately, you will be able to lower your turnover because your staff’s expectations will always be met. By lowering turnover, your profits will continue to improve as well.
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