restaurant scheduling tips

17 Restaurant Scheduling Tips for Owners

Scheduling staff for a restaurant is challenging. It’s more than just assigning names to time slots.

To ensure enough coverage at all hours and maintain employee productivity, you need careful planning and sometimes a touch of creativity.

To help streamline this process, in this post, we’ll share 14 practical restaurant scheduling tips you can apply right away.

1. Have a routine for scheduling

Having a well-planned schedule helps ensure that both your staff and your business run smoothly. A routine provides structure and helps to ensure that all shifts are covered, avoiding over or under-staffing.

Designate a specific day of the week for finalizing the schedule and another day for distributing it to your employees. This way, your employees can submit requests for time off or shift swaps prior to the schedule being finalized. While requests may not always be approved, it’s important to communicate that they should align with the needs of the business.

Establishing a set schedule also helps employees to plan their personal lives and reduces last-minute changes. A consistent scheduling routine can improve employee morale by giving them a clear understanding of their work schedule and allowing them to plan accordingly.

Additionally, a well-organized scheduling routine can help to reduce labor costs by ensuring that staff is only scheduled when they are needed.

2. Establish clear communication channels with staff

Clear communication is the key to success in any field, and restaurant scheduling is no exception. Encourage your staff to communicate their availability, preferences, and any other scheduling-related concerns. This way, you can work together to create a schedule that suits everyone’s needs.

3. Match your business needs with employee strengths

Try aligning employee strengths with your business requirements for more efficient schedules. For instance, you can assign outgoing and sociable staff to shifts that require lots of interactions and schedule more introverted staff for quiet, private areas within the restaurant.

Matching business needs with employee strengths takes consideration and requires you to know your business inside and out. Observe your staff performance to find out their strengths and weaknesses, then make proper adjustments in your scheduling strategy.

4. Prioritize peak shifts while scheduling

Scheduling busy shifts first makes sure there’s enough coverage for the most demanding shifts. Determine the busiest time of day and week of your restaurant, and assign staff to these shifts first. Once the peak shifts have been scheduled, proceed with scheduling for less busy periods.

5. Plan staffing levels based on business volume

To ensure that your restaurant runs smoothly, it’s important to have the right number of employees on hand during peak periods. Take the time to analyze your business volume and plan staffing levels accordingly. This will prevent over or under-staffing and ensure that customers receive the best possible service.

6. Rotate employees through different positions

Rotating employees through different positions can help them develop new skills and reduce boredom. This will not only improve their overall job satisfaction but also benefit your business by providing a more versatile and skilled workforce.

7. Distribute lucrative shifts fairly

Shifts during busy weekends or holidays have the potential to earn higher tips. To maintain fairness among your staff, arrange the work schedules so that every staff has an equal opportunity to earn extra tips. This approach ensures that your staff members feel valued and know they’re working in a fair environment.

Additionally, these high-value shifts can serve as learning experiences for new employees, providing them with the chance to work during peak hours.

restaurant scheduling tip: distribute lucrative shifts fairly

8. Schedule enough breaks

It’s important to ensure that your staff members are well-rested and energized. Regular breaks give them time to recharge physically and mentally. When creating a schedule, ensure that employees have adequate breaks between shifts to recharge and relax.

Avoid scheduling consecutive shifts as this can lead to burnout and negatively affect employees’ mood and productivity. Some states have regulations regarding the minimum time between shifts, so make sure to familiarize yourself with local laws and requirements.

9. Monitor schedule changes

If an employee can’t work their scheduled shift, it can be beneficial to let them make arrangements themselves so the shift is covered, such as swapping with a coworker.

But what if they swap with a newbie who can’t handle the workload and demand of that shift?

Giving staff some control over their shifts can relieve some admin burden for you. However, to maintain control over the schedule and ensure that changes don’t negatively impact business operations, make sure you’re aware of the important changes in the schedule. 

This does not imply a lack of trust in your staff. They still have a say in the scheduling process, but there should be an approval step to make sure business operations don’t go awry.

10. Make the schedule easy to read and accessible

A well-organized and easily legible schedule allows employees to quickly understand their responsibilities. Focus on creating a simple and informative schedule that clearly displays the date, time, and tasks for each shift.

Consider using a pre-made schedule template to streamline the scheduling process and eliminate the need to start from scratch each time.

In addition to traditional manual methods such as whiteboards, paper, and spreadsheets, utilizing scheduling apps or software can make your schedule more accessible and effective.

11. Allow for schedule flexibility

Things can change quickly in a restaurant, so it is important to allow for flexibility in your scheduling process. Flexible scheduling options such as shift swapping or self-scheduling ensure that your business can still operate well in the event of last-minute changes or emergencies.

12. Offer incentives for employees who are flexible with their schedules

Offering incentives for employees who are flexible with their schedules can encourage staff to be more willing to work during peak periods and other busy times. This can help you maintain adequate staffing levels and ensure that your business runs smoothly.

13. Review schedules regularly

It’s essential to periodically evaluate the efficiency of the current schedules and make necessary changes to ensure that staffing levels match the volume of business, accommodate peak periods, and avoid burnout among employees.

Regular schedule reviews also allow for flexibility in case of last-minute changes or emergencies and help to keep schedules up-to-date and relevant.

Have a systematic approach to schedule review, such as scheduling regular check-ins every two or three months, to maintain a well-organized and effective scheduling system.

Involving your staff in the review process can also be valuable, as they interact with the schedule on a daily basis and may have practical suggestions for improvement.

14. Document and update scheduling info regularly

Documenting and updating all scheduling information regularly will ensure that everyone is on the same page. This will help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that your business runs smoothly.

15. Schedule staff in advance

Scheduling your staff in advance will give them enough time to plan and make any necessary arrangements. This will not only help you ensure that you have enough coverage, but it will also make your employees feel valued and appreciated.

16. Provide training to new staff members on scheduling procedures

Training new staff members on scheduling procedures will ensure that they understand the process and can perform their duties effectively. This will help you maintain a consistent and efficient scheduling process.

17. Use scheduling software

Using scheduling software can significantly streamline the scheduling process and make it easier to manage. From tracking employee availability to generating reports, scheduling software can help you keep your restaurant running smoothly.

Try these 17 restaurant scheduling tips and see how they work

Creating an effective scheduling system for a restaurant might seem overwhelming. It takes trial and error to find out a schedule that works best for your restaurant.

However, by investing time and effort into your scheduling process, you can create a system that works for your business and your employees, leading to a thriving restaurant.

Besides applying the restaurant scheduling tips above, using a proper tool like Camelo can ease your burden of maintaining an efficient schedule.

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