By Kris Edwards
Restaurants and bars across Canada are prepping for a busy season in the face of many challenges, from labour shortages to the rising cost of ingredients like lettuce. In June 2022, there were 171,715 job vacancies in the foodservice industry, triple the amount of pre-pandemic levels. As a result, restaurant operators are shifting business models to navigate the labour shortage, with 72 per cent increasing hours worked by ownership and management-level staff.
As the pandemic accelerated the use of technology like food delivery apps, POS systems, and QR codes in the foodservice industry, many restaurants are now adopting automated scheduling amid the persisting labour shortage and rising inflation.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) allows you to create automated schedules for the perfect balance between profitability and floor coverage for an exceptional guest experience – all with the click of a button! This type of software capability collects a range of data like historical sales, staff skills and availability, and budgets, to forecast staffing needs and create optimal, skills-based schedules.
Great guest experiences and increased revenue are not created by managers sitting at the computer in their back office. Automated scheduling frees up time spent on administrative tasks because every minute spent with your team and your guest counts.
How can automated scheduling support managers in keeping costs down and best managing staff?
Optimize your shifts
Positioning staff to play to their strengths is key when operating with staffing shortages. Automated scheduling software considers skills and strengths to ensure you have the level of skill you need on the floor at all times.
Information like where servers are comfortable working, whether they can bar tend, and more, are all inputted into the software to create unique staff profiles. Equipped with this information, the software creates a schedule that best serves your team, managers, and guests.
Having the right people in the right place at the right time can make all the difference to avoid staff burnout and create a positive customer experience.
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Control your labour costs
With labour shortages pushing many restaurants to increase wages to retain and attract new staff, labour costs have become top of mind for managers. As managers plan for a busy season, automated scheduling software can forecast staffing needs and control overtime costs. Using historical data pulled from a restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system, this software can create accurate forecasts for managers to make informed decisions when hiring seasonal staff. The software also helps managers control labour costs by tracking hours logged and scheduled for each staff member.
It can be easy to ask servers to stay an extra hour or two during a busy rush, but this can quickly add up to overtime, driving your labour costs over budget. By tracking and flagging employee hours, automated scheduling can help keep you within your labour targets and stick to your budgets.
Make your staff happy
It can be hard to keep all your staff happy by keeping track of their commitments, but by having everyone input their time off requests into scheduling software, you can manage expectations ahead of time.
The fact that it schedules your staff according to their strengths and minimizes overtime will also make for a happy team. Finally, scheduling software simplifies your processes, streamlining employee communication with updates coming from one source.
The busy season is a great time for restaurants with increased customer traffic and spending, but it can also be overwhelming from a staffing perspective, especially amidst the current labour shortage. Automatic scheduling is a game-changer to make the most of those busy times and avoid staff burnout.
Kris Edwards is Director, Product Strategy – Hospitality, at Humi. Kris got his start working in the restaurant and hospitality industry in Winnipeg. Inspired to improve the management of restaurants, he co-founded Ameego, an automated labour optimization and scheduling software. After partnering with Humi for several years, the two teams joined forces to offer businesses a best-in-one HR and employee scheduling software solution.