Those who have worked in the restaurant industry agree – it’s not for the faint of heart.
Whether you’re a line cook or an owner you probably know what it feels like to be overworked and under the gun. And if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to serve in a management role, you’ve probably been unfortunate enough to know the frustration of creating a schedule.
Maximizing efficiency means accurately forecasting sales, determining staffing requirements, and attempting to remember that trick in Excel you learned last week. You haven’t been out to check on the floor in hours.
This is the dilemma that restaurant owners and managers face: when so much requires immediate attention, there is hardly enough time to strategize over a weekly schedule.
To the untrained eye, the question of whether to have a fifth server come in at ten or eleven on Tuesdays may seem menial. But as those with more experience understand, these “menial” determinations can make or break their business.
Hearty costs, meager margins
Consider a term that any decent restaurateur lives and dies by: “Controllable Expenses” – i.e., food and labor costs.
Industry expert Dr. Jonathan Deutsch recommends that total controllable expenses be no more than two thirds of sales, with labor no more than 35-40% of sales.
In an industry where profit margins are notoriously low – about 3-6% pre-tax on average – survival is often determined by efficient payroll management.
So why do so many of us in the business continue to guess when traffic will pick up, which days will be the hottest, and how many employees to have on at a time? In a $850+ billion dollar industry – that’s about four percent of the GDP throughout Canada and the U.S – you’d think someone would have found a better way.
Well, that’s because they have.
Point of Sale (POS) systems are already used to calculate payments, keep track of cash on hand, and record information on repeat customers by almost half of all restaurants nationally.
But a lot of users are failing to reap its full potential by not integrating it with their back office software. If you have more employees than you can count on two hands, you’re tired of looking through ledgers for sales trends, and you want to boost your restaurant’s efficiency, then POS integrated restaurant scheduling software is right for you.
The Benefits of POS Integration
1. Save time, money and eliminate data entry errors
Having integrated systems enables information to flow freely from one to the next without any human interaction.
With some scheduling software, the schedule can be pushed directly into the POS so that you can enforce punch rules (Rules that dictate when someone can and cannot clock in for their shift). If enforced properly, these rules can help significantly reduce the amount of time theft that can occur and save a significant amount of labor cost. 15 minutes here and there may not seem like much but over the course of a year they add up!
The automated sync is also a great time saver as you don’t have to manually input the the entire schedule into the POS along with any shift changes that may occur. Depending on your staff size, that process alone can save anywhere from 30-60 minutes of management time per week.
Once punch times are captured in the POS, that information can flow back into the scheduling software along with other metrics (e.g. sales, guest/meal counts, etc.). That information is extremely valuable as you can now compile comparative reports, review trends and build better sales and labor forecasts in a fraction of the time taken if it were performed manually.
2. Use exact metrics for better labor forecasts
As mentioned above, once integrated all kinds of metrics can be pulled from the POS and used to create better forecasts and schedules. Some of these metrics include:
Guest Counts - Number of guests in your restaurant at a certain time.
This metric is valuable because it can tell you when guests are coming into your restaurant, and when you should be bringing on staff to service those guests.
Meal Counts - Number of meals being filled at a given period.
A valuable metric, especially for scheduling kitchen staff that prepare the meals for guests. In most cases this number can be broken down further to exact menu items so you can know which stations need to be staffed first.
Punch-times - When employees are clocking in and out for shifts.
Once you have this information you can compare forecasted labor with actual labor results to review and identify where you may be overspending in labor.
*Remember, if you can eliminate 15 minutes here are there of unnessesary labor, you can save significant money in labor cost savings.
Wage Information - Employee wages broken down by department.
Some employees have different wages depending on the shift/department they’re working. Having accurate wage information for all your employees is pivotal to understanding your true labor cost.
Sales - Sales in your restaurant at any given time (broken down as low as 15 minute intervals).
Many restaurant’s schedule different sections/departments based on a portion of the sales. Front-Of-House (FOH) may work on total sales (food and liquor), while Back-Of-House (BOH) may only work on food.
Being able to use exact metrics pulled from your POS takes the guesswork out of budgeting. As a result, both staff and guests receive a better experience and the restaurant is more profitable - a big win win all around!
3. Make data your friend
Sure, some trends are obvious. Any thinking employee knows the basics of her restaurant; business picks up on Tuesday’s for wing night, Sunday at ten for brunch, and weekdays for lunch.
What even the smartest employee doesn’t know, unless you’ve got a true rain man on staff, is what business does on an hourly (or even half- or quarter-hourly) basis. Mapping these trends week after week provides a far more detailed and comprehensive picture that gives schedulers a huge efficiency boost.
This can lead to more advanced sales strategies, like using discounts to boost sales during non-peak hours. When you consider that in 2015, 80% of consumers said they would be willing to trade peak dining hours for savings, it’s a tactic worth testing, and measuring using the analytics in your POS system.
For a manager, that means some major schedule revisions.
So what’s next?
If you’re that manager or owner that’s been slaving over Excel spreadsheets or a non integrated solution for some time now, it’s definitely worth taking a further look into integrated scheduling software.
If the time and financial savings alone aren't enough, what is your sanity worth?
In addition to POS Integration, what else do you need to consider when you’re looking for restaurant scheduling software? To help you evaluate your options, download your free copy of our buyer's guide here: