Three restaurant workers chat in front of a whiteboard with complex scheduling information.

How Restaurant Employee Scheduling Leads to Success

Five commercial kitchen scheduling tips that can help improve retention and decrease overtime.
  • Timing matters. In your restaurant, good scheduling is among the best ways to create order and maintain a smooth operational flow. It’s as important as the staff you have doing the work. And the right scheduling ensures that, whether they’re serving customers in the front of the house or cleaning a greasy kitchen floor in the back, having the right amount of staff on hand makes a difference in the customer experience.

    While scheduling is often seen as a routine but necessary task, the right approach can help you build relationships with staff, increase retention and minimize overtime, says Mark Hampton, founder and CEO of Supply Chain Synergy Consultants, a Denver, Colorado-based restaurant consulting firm. Here are five tips for getting it right.




1. Know Your Restaurants Staffing Needs Day-by-Day, Hour-by-Hour

  • A restaurant worker in a commercial kitchen scours a large pan in soapy water.

    Every commercial kitchen has slow and busy times. Cascade your workers’ arrival times according to your business’ traffic, Hampton says. For example, if you know your lunch rush starts at 11:45 a.m., don’t have the first shift all come in at 9 a.m. Instead, schedule some workers to arrive to take care of prep and cleaning tasks, and others to come in later so they’re not standing around with nothing to do.




2. Use Tech to Help Clean Up Your Scheduling Practices

Restaurant workers often need flexibility. When you schedule them for times when they’re not available, you create staffing issues for your business and ill will with your team, Hampton says. Invest in commercial restaurant scheduling technology to help you track employee availability, allow them to access their schedules from their phones and save time in your busy restaurant.

3. Shift Your Commercial Kitchen's Work Week Start

  • A close-up of calendar pages.

    Hampton recommends controlling overtime by starting the work week on Friday. Workers may rack up extra hours over the weekend, especially around busy holiday times. Then, their schedules can be adjusted during the remainder of the week, when customer volume is likely to be lower.

    “Normally, people have their work weeks start on Monday,” Hampton says. “When you start on Friday, they go into the busiest part of the week with everybody at zero hours.”

4. Develop Restaurant Cleaning and Other Checklists

Develop commercial kitchen cleaning checklists or systems for every other area of the business. This will help workers maximize their time and get things done in a more uniform way. They know when the griddle cleaning needs to happen, when salads need to be prepped, when tables need to be set, etc. “They help workers get into routines,” Hampton says.

5. Use Free Time to Develop Workers

  • When your team members maximize their time, that efficiency allows you to find opportunities to train them in other parts of the business, Hampton says. That way, you can move someone from cleaning pots and pans to becoming a line cook or learning to work in the front of the house. When you create career pathways for people, you increase retention, Hampton says. In addition, you maximize your training by developing in-house staff who already know your business.


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