Boosting Restaurant Productivity and Retention with Flex Scheduling
Even pre-pandemic, it was difficult to recruit and retain the best restaurant team members. The then-low unemployment rate, rising wages, and increasing number of fast food venues made full staffing an ever-growing challenge. So, when a restaurant does have the right talent, managers must do what they can to keep them happy and engaged, which is not an easy feat, especially during the current pandemic.
Although initially, COVID-19 caused widespread restaurant closings and staff layoffs, there has been an industry resurgence. For instance, as of August, chains such as Chipotle were on a hiring binge, according to TheStreet. However, hiring and retaining team members is as difficult as ever. Restaurants face multiple workforce hurdles, including:
- Absenteeism, which may even be worse now than pre-pandemic
- Employee churn, with the cost of hiring, on-boarding, and training, as well as the loss of expertise when a team member leaves
- Excess cost in labor management processes, due to inefficient scheduling, avoidable overtime and too many or too few team members on a shift
- Competition for the best team members among multiple competitors
Removing the Roadblocks to QSR Success
Problems with scheduling can be especially damaging, leading to team member turnover. This impacts the guest experience and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line.
Unfortunately, restaurants relying on traditional manual labor scheduling processes are at a disadvantage. They are incapable of accommodating team members’ needs and personal responsibilities (such as caring for a child or parent because of COVID-related circumstances). This can result in all too many last-minute schedule changes and additional workload for managers dealing with manual schedule edits.
Managers must also factor in labor regulations when preparing forecasts and schedules, or face massive fines. And they must also prepare for customer demand, spikes in weather, seasonality and more.
Intelligent Workforce Management
To address this set of challenges, fast casual and quick service restaurants can use software solutions that offer automated labor budgeting, forecasting, scheduling, and employee self-service. Such solutions offer:
- Intelligence and time savings: An end-to-end workforce scheduling solution takes into account various thresholds and parameters, such as corporate policies, labor rules, and team member preferences. This way, fast casual or QSR managers cut the time spent creating labor schedules, thereby focusing on coaching team members, and serving the customer.
- Scheduling equity: The application promotes fair shift assignments across the entire chain of restaurant locations. The technology eliminates the bias typically found in Excel-based labor scheduling, and ensures team members work the way that’s right for them.
Offering Team Members Flexibility
Going a step further, managers can adopt solutions that leverage the resources of not just one restaurant location, but of an entire regional network. The scheduling application can treat multiple fast casual or QSR teams as if they were a single team. A flexible, cross-location solution enables:
- Visibility and collaboration among teams: Team members can voluntarily make themselves available to other locations in their district/area. When creating schedules, the solution will factor in total time worked across locations, travel time, and distance from the associate’s home-restaurant, etc.
- The ability to leverage a larger talent pool in real-time: The application can view all team members who have made themselves available to a given restaurant location. The solution then intelligently selects team members by schedule availability, training, skills, and other factors, and slots them into the appropriate shifts. This way, managers can get the best possible coverage to create an excellent customer experience.
- Flexible, yet precise scheduling: Team members can tailor schedules to their needs. The solution allows employees to pick-up and swap shifts across a set of locations, with manager approval. When any given team member needs to call out, this flexibility can make a huge difference to team member morale, as well as the guest experience.
For more insight into how you can automate and optimize labor scheduling, cut absenteeism and improve employee retention, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.