Ensure Enough Coverage for Your Restaurant at Any Given Time

Enrique Estagle

16 August 2017    |   

Traffic at a restaurant ebbs and flows with the times. One moment you’ll only have a handful of patrons, the next an avalanche of customers are queuing at the entrance, waiting to be served. From being overstaffed at a certain time period, suddenly your staff are juggling multiple tables while tickets are lining up like crazy at the kitchen. How do you effectively plan your rosters so that you get the most out of the staff that you have? Forecast Sales and Traffic First things first, of course, is that you have to effectively forecast your restaurant’s sales and traffic at any given day. It might not be an exact science, but Bplans has an in-depth article that can guide you in creating a clear sales forecast. In summary, the article advises that you calculate the number of meals your restaurant can serve based on the number of tables and seats. Multiply those meals based on the amount of service at any given time (in their example, it’s one service during lunch and two services for dinner). Then vary it based on assumptions per day or week (maybe less on Mondays and more on the weekends). And finally, line it up in a spreadsheet. Determine Your FTEs, Make Sure That You Have 2 FTEs more In Any Given Shift So, you have a good sales projection available. Now, it’s time to review your staffing and check if you have enough of everyone for any given shift. It all boils down to the FTEs. FTE stands for “full-time equivalent,” or the number of hours a full-time employee can render in a week. According to this article from TheRestaurantExpert.com, back-of-house employees have 40 hours in one FTE. Those on the front-of-house, on the other hand, have five shifts in one FTE. The same article deep dives on ensuring that your restaurant has enough people through FTEs. Long story short: they recommend to always have two FTEs more than your forecast dictates so that you have enough people covering the restaurant. With that as a rule-of-thumb, you can be creative with your staffing. Cross-train staff so that they can do more than one task. Have bartenders also learn how to cook simple dishes or have new waiters also cover bussing or washing dishes. Craft Your Roster Once everything is set, it’s time for you to make the weekly roster. Make this task quicker for you by leveraging online rostering software that replaces the old-school way of using whiteboards or Excel spreadsheets. Take into consideration your staff’s leave request vis-à-vis your traffic. Remember to send the weekly shift schedule to your staff at least two weeks in advance so that your team is well in the know when they have to time in. Whether you’re a start-up restaurateur or a veteran with a dozen restaurants under your belt, ensuring coverage can make you have sleepless nights. But with a proper plan that you consistently execute and fine-tune, your customers are guaranteed enjoy great service any time of the day.

Traffic at a restaurant ebbs and flows with the times. One moment you’ll only have a handful of patrons, the next an avalanche of customers are queuing at the entrance, waiting to be served. From being overstaffed at a certain time period, suddenly your staff are juggling multiple tables while tickets are lining up like crazy at the kitchen. How do you effectively plan your rosters so that you get the most out of the staff that you have?

Forecast Sales and Traffic

First things first, of course, is that you have to effectively forecast your restaurant’s sales and traffic at any given day. It might not be an exact science, but Bplans has an in-depth article that can guide you in creating a clear sales forecast.

In summary, the article advises that you calculate the number of meals your restaurant can serve based on the number of tables and seats. Multiply those meals based on the amount of service at any given time (in their example, it’s one service during lunch and two services for dinner). Then vary it based on assumptions per day or week (maybe less on Mondays and more on the weekends). And finally, line it up in a spreadsheet.

Determine Your FTEs, Make Sure That You Have 2 FTEs more In Any Given Shift

So, you have a good sales projection available. Now, it’s time to review your staffing and check if you have enough of everyone for any given shift. It all boils down to the FTEs.

FTE stands for “full-time equivalent,” or the number of hours a full-time employee can render in a week. According to this article from TheRestaurantExpert.com, back-of-house employees have 40 hours in one FTE. Those on the front-of-house, on the other hand, have five shifts in one FTE. The same article deep dives on ensuring that your restaurant has enough people through FTEs.

Long story short: they recommend to always have two FTEs more than your forecast dictates so that you have enough people covering the restaurant. With that as a rule-of-thumb, you can be creative with your staffing. Cross-train staff so that they can do more than one task. Have bartenders also learn how to cook simple dishes or have new waiters also cover bussing or washing dishes.

Craft Your Roster

Once everything is set, it’s time for you to make the weekly roster. Make this task quicker for you by leveraging online rostering software that replaces the old-school way of using whiteboards or Excel spreadsheets. Take into consideration your staff’s leave request vis-à-vis your traffic. Remember to send the weekly shift schedule to your staff at least two weeks in advance so that your team is well in the know when they have to time in.

Whether you’re a start-up restaurateur or a veteran with a dozen restaurants under your belt, ensuring coverage can make you have sleepless nights. But with a proper plan that you consistently execute and fine-tune, your customers are guaranteed enjoy great service any time of the day.

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How much do full-time staff really cost?

Being in the business of managing staff costs, we often hear people say that casual staff just cost so much more than their full time equivalents. I mean, that extra 25% is a killer, right? Especially for staff who work a fairly consistent schedule each week, it’s almost like free money. For a while there I went along with that, not really giving it much thought. But today the thought struck me – casuals miss out on plenty of benefits afforded to full and part timers, so are they really better off? I decided to investigate further. What follows may surprise you. First – how many days in a year does a full time employee work? Weeks in a Year: 52 Working Days in a Year: 260 So far so good. We’re going to ignore the 1 or 2 days that we’re off by, for the sake of a nice round number. Next, let’s look at this full time employee’s entitlements, in days. Annual Leave: 20 (4 weeks) Personal Leave: 10 (2 weeks) Public Holidays: 10 We’ll assume a 7.6 hour work day and 17.5% leave loading. So how many hours of leave are we paying? Annual Leave – Base: 152 Annual Leave – Loading: 26.6 Personal Leave: 76 Public Holidays: 76 Total Hours of Leave Paid: 330.6 Earlier we calculated how many days of work one can work in a year, now let’s subtract leave taken to get a more accurate figure. Days of Leave Taken: 40 Actual Days Worked in a Year: 220 Actual Hours Worked in a Year: 1672 Divide 330.6 (hours of leave paid) by 1672 (hours worked) and we get 19.77%. Remember, we are comparing this to the 25% loading paid for casual staff. So from this perspective, yes, your full time and part time staff are still cheaper – but only by 5.23%. And even that number is probably on the low side. We ignored long service leave and maternity leave because they are a bit more unreliable. Both they are also costs (or accruals) that can definitely add up! When you take into account the fact that you only have to pay casuals when you need them, it’s easy to see why more and more Australian employers are turning to casual staff. According to the ABS, this has been growing steadily since the 90’s, and today over 1 in 5 jobs in Australia are casual.

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Australian Businesses Suffer from Absenteeism

Definition: Absenteeism is the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason. Everyone is guilty of absenteeism at least some point in their lives. But how do you know when absenteeism is becoming a real problem within your business? How much it is actually costing your business invaluable work time, productivity and money? A survey conducted in November 2014 by Direct Health Solutions, a firm that specialises in reducing workplace absenteeism, found that sick days are costing Australian businesses a record $33 billion in payroll costs and lost productivity. Sick days are not only costing Australian businesses money, they are also being incorrectly recorded. “Absenteeism levels are understated and incorrectly recorded in over 50% of organizations.” “To ensure employers understand the impact and cost of absenteeism to their business, companies need accurate recording and measurement systems in place” said Managing Director of Direct Health Solutions, Paul Dundon. Tanda, an award-winning time and attendance software, is a cloud-based system that helps small and large businesses manage their staff costs. Through the use of our automated time and attendance tracking software, in just a matter of minutes Tanda can calculate the total number of employees who take sick days along with the total cost of lost revenue and productivity due to absenteeism. Tanda offers a complete payroll administration system that allows businesses to manage and monitor time and attendance from any device at any time. The processing of an entire payroll that used to take hours to complete can be processed in a matter of minutes.   You can trial Tanda yourself for FREE to see just how easy it really is to use. We guarantee you’ll never look back.

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New rostering features allows you to get visual with pay rates

This week at Tanda, we’ve launched some exciting new features to give businesses a complete visual breakdown on different pay rates that are applying on the roster. This is a game changer in allowing managers to easily build a fully costed, compliant and optimised work roster. Making it easier to understand the cost of a roster Tanda’s always given you the cost of a roster, broken down by each employee and each day. However, even that doesn’t always make it clear why costs blow out sometimes. This is why we built the roster costing chart. Visible on the costs view of their rosters, it shows a breakdown of each hour of the employee’s roster, showing if the time will be ordinary time or overtime and the cost that it’ll be paid at. With lots of staff on a roster, you’ll see a small preview for each person. We call it the candybar because of how datalicious it looks. You can even sort the list of staff based on this candybar – so you can order rosters based on who has the most complex costing which usually comes from having the most different kinds of overtime. Making it easier to give staff the hours they want We’re tackling these problems from both ends to give you more tools to make great rosters. You can now set the preferred hours that someone would like to work on their employee profile. If you roster someone with a lot more, or a lot less, hours than their preference, you’ll see a reminder on your roster. There’s 10% leeway on either side, which means you don’t need to roster everyone with exactly the number of hours they want – just in the general vicinity. This is a great way of giving staff hours they are happy with, while still maintaining the natural flexibility in hours required for casual employment. Did you know? If you roster a casual for the same hours every week, most Modern Awards include a clause where you need to offer them a permanent contract. Fair Work refers to this as “regular and systematic” rostering. Our goal at Tanda is to make it super simple to build a roster that is both compliant and optimised under your relevant Fair Work Award. If you’re interested in finding out some more information about implementing this in your business check out our rostering or award interpretation pages.

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About the author

Enrique Estagle

Enrique was the former editor-in-chief of Tanda's Blog.

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How much do full-time staff really cost?

Being in the business of managing staff costs, we often hear people say that casual staff just cost so much more than their full time equivalents. I mean, that extra 25% is a killer, right? Especially for staff who work a fairly consistent schedule each week, it’s almost like free money. For a while there […]

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Australian Businesses Suffer from Absenteeism

Definition: Absenteeism is the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason. Everyone is guilty of absenteeism at least some point in their lives. But how do you know when absenteeism is becoming a real problem within your business? How much it is actually costing your business invaluable work time, productivity and money? A […]

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New rostering features allows you to get visual with pay rates

This week at Tanda, we’ve launched some exciting new features to give businesses a complete visual breakdown on different pay rates that are applying on the roster. This is a game changer in allowing managers to easily build a fully costed, compliant and optimised work roster. Making it easier to understand the cost of a […]

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