Even if you were the brains behind your restaurant, all the innovation it brings and proficiency it boasts are nothing if your restaurant staffing isn’t set up. To have your business truly flourish, your staff has to have the best interests of the restaurant at heart. With our tested and true article on restaurant staffing, you can’t fail at this.
Recruit From All Types Of Restaurant Schools
Sure, we all want the cache that comes from hiring someone who attended the Institute of Culinary Education. But names and titles don’t have to be the be-all and end-all of your restaurant staffing decisions. Smaller, less-well-known programs can turn out some truly passionate people. A good restaurant staffing plan is to keep an open mind when it comes to recruiting for your restaurant.
Restaurant Staffing Trait Priorities
Yes, the experience is very important. But an inexperienced-yet-passionate server who is willing to learn and grow can often make for a better hire than someone who’s just been around for a long time. Remember, the experience can be accumulated just by showing up. It says nothing about attitude. Passion, however, can’t be taught but can make a huge difference in the attitude of the employee. The ideal employee will have both passion and experience. But we suggest you don’t dismiss a passionate applicant just because they don’t have years of experience.
Reward Your Restaurant Staffing
Encourage some healthy competition among your wait staff, to see who can get the highest check averages each week or month. If you use comment cards, offer some sort of reward for staff who get good feedback. It doesn’t always have to be money.
You could give movie tickets or a gift certificate to other local businesses as rewards for the person with the most positive comments.
The wait staff is the front line of your restaurant. They deal with unhappy customers, even if the problem is out of their control. If the kitchen takes a long time to get an order out and the customer is unhappy, guess whose tip is going to suffer? Not the sous chef or line cook. By keeping customers happy, you are also going to keep your staff happy. The next time a customer complains, authorize your wait staff to offer a freebie, like a dessert or a beer on the house.
Learn about the restaurant staffing agency concept.
Restaurant Staffing Example – Walk Through
One issue I address in the restaurant business model is ratios of employees and sales. In one plan for a very successful restaurant, you might estimate $1.3M in sales in your first year. If your average sale is $40 you will be doing 744 sales per week (for around $30k sales / week).
Sounds easy enough.
The problem is that the demand is likely to be heavily concentrated in certain days or times. Perhaps the weekend dinner, or a daily brunch, or a lunch special…whatever your niche is. So how to determine your restaurant staffing levels?
The first thing I do in the model is break the $30k in sales down to day of week. For example, say 30% of sales are on Saturday night. Perhaps the average ticket is higher on Saturday night due to alcohol sales, so the average bill is $100. How many tickets have to be supported? The answer is 90 tickets — $100 each provides $9k in sales for Saturday night, which is 30% of the weekly business. If we turn over each table 3 times, that’s 30 tables. Does that sound reasonable given your restaurant’s business model?
Now that we have 30 tables to support, let’s figure out staffing levels. How many cooks does a restaurant need anyway? For our closing shift let’s say we have 3 waiters, 1 bartender, 1 chef, 3 line cooks, 1 hostess, and 1 general manager. 10 tables per waiter — is that possible? How about 4 people in the kitchen preparing $100 in meals for 90 tickets on a Saturday? If a significant piece is alcohol sales, do we sell wine (lower labor input) or mixed drinks? If mixed drinks we will need more than 1 bartender — perhaps several more. In this example 50% of staff is providing service and 50% of the staff is preparing food or mixing drinks. Does your establishment require a different mix?
Now let’s assign everyone a cost per hour. Using the Excel model I’ve estimated a cost for a waiter, cook, busboy, etc. I put how many of each type of staff are needed for Open, Lunch, and Close shifts. The total labor in my example is $2,100 in staff for the day. Not bad given $9k in sales.
Check out this restaurant staffing chart.
I’ve just introduced another problem though. There are 32 total shifts to be worked that Saturday in my example. Do I have 32 employees? Perhaps I’ll have some of the staff work a double on Saturday. You may notice the next staffing problem I have — guaranteeing hours for my employees. The waiters will love making that much in tips on a Saturday night. But how do I do restaurant staffing during my slow days?
To handle restaurant staffing during slow days I split staffing into two groups — slow days (Sunday through Wednesday) and fast days (Thursday through Saturday). I have to balance the number of shifts across all my employees and make sure I have enough employees to cover the fast days (even if some employees work doubles on the weekends).
Scheduling is a sensitive topic. The main challenges that arise you probably know well:
- Balancing customer and order influx with the correct number of staff
- Ensuring staff are scheduled according to their strengths and skill level
- Ensuring equality and fairness amongst staff, while considering seniority
- Managing ad-hoc scheduling changes and vacations
In most staffing scenarios, it’s hard to be a Switzerland, appeasing all parties, but certain scheduling apps can make this easier to manage.
Key Scheduling Capabilities to Look Our For
Budgeting tools: The ability to set and receive reports on labor costs by FOH and BOH and also see how much is being spent on restaurant staffing daily, weekly and monthly.
Hours-worked alerts: A feature that includes thresholds that alert management when staff is nearing overtime or identify those who aren’t meeting their quota of hours.
Shift approvals: An approval mechanism designed to give management the power to accept or deny shift changes.
POS integration: The more actionable data you have to work within your POS, the more decision-making power you have when it comes to scheduling the correct staff at the right time.
Here is a good restaurant staffing guide template we chose.