Point. Click. Shift.

Point. Click. Shift.

Scheduling staff shifts just got a whole lot easier

"I love spending hours each week making the schedule," said no manager ever. Guess what? Those days are over. Welcome to the age of online scheduling.

Shift scheduling has long been a chore that managers have struggled with for years. Unless you have a small staff that has fairly-set schedules, the process can take hours and, even then, you'll spend more time fielding requests for a day off or that someone wants to switch a shift with a co-worker. Now numerous mobile apps and cloud-based options exist to remove that burden.

"It saves time for managers. It's easy for staff to swap or release a shift with approval. And it keeps things organized," said Sagi Rachman, founder of Better Chains, a cloud-based integrated restaurant management system that offers online scheduling. "It's a huge communication tool. The staff doesn't have to call or email anymore."

Better Chains is just one of a number of digital systems like People Matter, TeamWorx, 7Shifts, HotSchedules and Shift Planning that give restaurants the tools to streamline their scheduling. Depending on what platform you go with, it could come with different modules for human resources, training, payroll, forecasting, data mining and more. But whatever it is you need — or don't even know you need — you should go with something and move away from archaic pen-and-paper scheduling.

"It's part of restaurant daily life now," said Stephen Snyder, operations manager for Phoenix-based Native Grill & Wings, which uses TeamWorx. "You have to use software like this or else you're way behind. The software is so cheap. It's a no-brainer."

In addition to saving time and creating a more efficient process, online or cloud-based software will save you money. Not only do many of the platforms cost on average $50 (or less) a month per store, you'll save by reducing labor and food costs. Managers can go from spending hours a week on scheduling to a couple of hours, but it's more than that.

"Teamworx put a huge focus on scheduling based on a restaurant's demands," Snyder said. "It looks at it on a daily basis and their forecasting tool is superior. That tells us that for a specific hour we'll need three servers, two cooks or whatever. It can break the schedule down to 15-minute increments."

Ryan Suddendorf, a partner in Evergreens Salad, agrees on the timesaving possibilities of online scheduling. Evergreens uses Homebase to manage the scheduling at their two Seattle healthy quick-service spots. "It reduces the amount of time managers spend on scheduling," Suddendorf said. "Once a schedule is built for a location, it reduces the scheduling time. They can easily modify the schedule by moving in and out times. In terms of keeping staff productive by keeping a forecast section, we can predict sales based on historical data. We can move people around to hit our target sales cost each day or week."

And your staff will love you for it. Why? Because as soon as a new schedule gets posted or someone wants to swap a shift, your staff will see it in near real time. Some apps allow for push notifications. Others you need to launch the app, but you'll have everything right at your fingertips, which is something that anyone with a smartphone loves.

"People are always getting shifts covered or trading shifts," said AJ Sacher, owner of Barney's Beanery, a chain of sports bars in Southern California, which uses Better Chains. "When the schedule is posted on the app, the staff can go in and trade shifts. They can do a lot of that on their own. If they want to trade a shift, they link together in the app, submit the request and the managers can see the request and approve or deny it. The old way, people would have to call the store, get the phone list, start calling everyone. This is a natural progression, given technology with mobile applications. It seems so obvious now.

Overall, online scheduling software is more efficient and will save you time and money ... and a lot of staffing headaches.

"The only reason to implement any technology or device is to save you time," Sacher said. "You're creating a lot of efficiency so managers can be out with customers and staff, and not sitting at a computer."

And isn't that why you're in the restaurant business — to not sit at a desk all day?


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