Best Scheduling Practices: For Your Restaurant

Job happiness in our industry doesn’t just pertain to what it’s like to work in whichever bar or restaurant you work in. It is also heavily related to the schedule employees receive. Our industry is dynamic and cycles with business levels and this means that our schedules need to be just as dynamic. Workers in our industry understand this all too well, however their schedule can often be a main point of frustration, yet we have to schedule to suit our business as well as our employees ever changing needs and requests. In the first part of this two part series we look at how you can improve your scheduling practices from a managers perspective, making your restaurant run as smooth as possible as well as on budget.


One of the best tools for managers writing schedules is to forecast the sales for each day of the week and to schedule accordingly. You can do this by looking at your sales data, labour costs, schedules and manager’s log from previous years. Gathering all this data will give you a wealth of information as to what to expect in the coming days and weeks, allowing you to be best prepared for all eventualities. Just remember to adjust the data according to the day of the week it falls on i.e. our calendar changes every year and not moving the data to the correct days, i.e. weekends, will skew your number and therefore your scheduling; potentially setting you up for disaster.


Tracking your labour costs is imperative to the success of your restaurant. This is a cost you should be recording and checking daily alongside your sales figures. If your labor costs are too high compared to your sales then you should find ways to mitigate these costs and bring them back down to their ideal levels. Tactics for this include forecasting so that you’re scheduling smarter, as well as sending people home when business levels do not call for their presence. This last one is difficult because people often will not want to leave, because they want, and need, to earn money. If it’s not busy enough for them to be there to serve customers then you can offer them another task, such as deep cleaning, so that their labor dollars are being put to good use; also, many people will often opt to go home instead of beginning a large cleaning project.

Busy Day = Best Team

Not all of us excel at what we do, and you already know who your best employees are. Ensuring that they’re working on your busiest days will ensure the continued success of your business and it will help those days run as smoothly as possible, providing you, the managers, with peace of mind.

Scheduling your best team for the busiest days is great, but because we work in such a team orientated environment, which is coupled with fast pace and high stress, that it is imperative that these employees work well together. The team dynamic in your location is the complete sum of the individual members of that team and putting people on shifts together who complement each other means that your shifts will run smoothly. Having people whom butt heads all the time is not conducive to a good team environment, especially on busy days.

Set Schedules

Our employees all have needs and wants and we need to be willing and able to accommodate them. Many people in our industry will hold two or more jobs, just to make ends meet, and your scheduling ability may be limited by their availability. When hiring new employees be sure to ask about any scheduling requirements they may have. Having too many people on your books whom have set schedules or limited availability is going to make your job as a scheduling manager very difficult; and pleasing your full time employees just as difficult. You can avoid this by setting out clear expectations during your hiring process and although someone might be a future rockstar employee their tight scheduling requirements may make them a bad fit for your venue.

Following these practices will help you to write schedule that suit your business needs for each day and help you to run a successful business. In next weeks article we’re going to discuss scheduling to your employees’ needs and what you can do to ensure that your employees are at least content, if not exceedingly happy, with every schedule you write for them.