Peak Season Rostering: How to use data to meet demand and raise profit

Rosie Ramirez

16 April 2019    |   

The number of festivals, trade shows, conferences, and marketing meetings is on the rise. According to Eventbrite Australia, 54% of businesses plan to host more events in the future. And with several major holidays like Easter and ANZAC Day just around the corner, businesses face an increased demand in products and services. Hotels, pubs, retail shops, and restaurants all encounter staffing challenges during peak season. Businesses that do not roster with increased demand in mind risk losing out on profits and providing quality customer service. Is effective rostering easier said than done? For many managers, there is too much guesswork involved to really be successful. Without modern tools, managers roster based on what has worked before, some even based on gut feelings alone. But each small staffing decision can impact costs and productivity in a huge way. How you respond to the flow of operations throughout the day also matters. Instincts and guesswork can only take you so far. Data about employees, wages, and operations can change the game for businesses, especially those that rely heavily on shift workers.  Check out these three data-driven tools that help you meet demand and raise profit! 1. Cover all your bases with Key Alerts Anything can happen after publishing a roster. Monitoring tardiness and breaks, substituting unavailable staff, and calling in extra help are all part of running a shift. And losing track of them has severe cost and productivity impact that accumulate over time. For example, if staff clock-in or out late, the business doesn’t have the appropriate level of staff. There could be too few or too many for several minutes, even hours. If there’s only one person rostered and they’re 10 minutes late, the revenue potential for those 10 minutes is zero. Your quality of service suffers tremendously. That’s where Key Alerts comes in. Key Alerts helps you make sure that the staff sticks to their rostered hours. It lets you know who clocks-in or out late, doesn’t take breaks, or takes breaks too long. This is helpful throughout the year, regardless if it’s peak season or not. But especially during peak season, deciding on whether to allow overtime is crucial, particularly when it comes to being on top of wage costs and additional allowances. Key Alerts, which comes for free with Tanda’s mobile app, also flags managers if staff is approaching overtime. The data lets you decide between paying overtime and calling in another capable staff member. And because software takes care of monitoring for you, all bases are always covered. Read more: Why Live Workforce Data is the Future 2. Respond to changes in real-time with Live Insights Getting Key Alerts throughout the day is one thing, but responding to real-time demand is another. For hospitality, retail, and food businesses, events in the area cause an uptick in customers. Sometimes, the change can be so unprecedented that the staff is swamped and customers are left unsatisfied. Fortunately, you already have something at hand that can help you keep up: your Point-of-Sale (POS) system. Your POS can track the number and type of sales each employee makes, and more importantly when they make those sales. The same data can be used to optimise your daily operations. Live Insights, or real-time staffing, utilises data from your POS to tell you if you’re under- or over-staffed. Previously, managers needed to wait for end-of-day reports to see if the rostered staff was enough and how the business went overall.  With Live Insights, multiple staffing decisions can be made throughout the day in response to real-time data. You can see how much you’ve made compared to how much you’re spending on wages. You can also see how sales compare to expected numbers. Based on this data, you can adjust staffing levels to make sure targets are hit and customers are happy. Read more: Introducing Live Insights: Using real-time staffing to secure your business 3. Plan ahead better with Cognitive Rostering Continuously learning from experience to plan better is the key to success. Many businesses rely on optimising wage costs to ensure a decent profit margin. During peak season, there is a real opportunity to recover from slow days. You can engage more customers and create programs that can keep them coming back throughout the year. But when you overspend on wages, that opportunity is lost. So how do you get the staffing level right? How do you make sure that your customers are getting the best service without spending too much on wages? The simple answer: use technology to learn better. With Cognitive Rostering, you don’t have to remember how you built your most effective roster a year ago. Using indicators such as wage percentage of sales, this tool builds the perfect roster for you. And because it learns how your business is doing, the more you use it, the better it works. Cognitive Rostering uses your own data to save you time, effort, and money. You can test millions of scenarios for every roster to find the optimal solution, and you can concentrate on more important tasks like training staff or developing sales strategies. In short, you can empower yourself to grow your business faster than you ever thought you could. Read more: How this retailer increased profit by $8.9m from rostering more hours Stop guessing — Become a data-driven workforce Technology for businesses has definitely gone far. But they can go much farther, right into the heart of your business: workforce management. No company or organisation will survive without its workforce. For many businesses, especially those that rely on shift workers, wages are the biggest overhead expense. However, we often use outdated systems to manage them. Data and digital technology are highly transformative, and businesses need to take advantage of them. Key Alerts, Live Insights, and Cognitive Rostering are testaments to the difference data can make on operations, whether it’s peak season or not. There is no way around it: meeting demand, raising profit, and growing your business can only be done with a data-driven workforce. You need to use technology not only to solve workplace challenges but also to optimise it. Investing in the correct workforce technology platform can increase productivity, savings, and even sustainability. The long-term benefits of shifting to a workforce technology platform are more than worth its initial birthing pains. Taking advantage of these tools may well determine if you will succeed in this increasingly fast-paced business environment. Free eBook: Overcoming Employee Challenges in Shift Work Industries

The number of festivals, trade shows, conferences, and marketing meetings is on the rise. According to Eventbrite Australia, 54% of businesses plan to host more events in the future. And with several major holidays like Easter and ANZAC Day just around the corner, businesses face an increased demand in products and services. Hotels, pubs, retail shops, and restaurants all encounter staffing challenges during peak season. Businesses that do not roster with increased demand in mind risk losing out on profits and providing quality customer service.

Is effective rostering easier said than done? For many managers, there is too much guesswork involved to really be successful. Without modern tools, managers roster based on what has worked before, some even based on gut feelings alone. But each small staffing decision can impact costs and productivity in a huge way. How you respond to the flow of operations throughout the day also matters. Instincts and guesswork can only take you so far. Data about employees, wages, and operations can change the game for businesses, especially those that rely heavily on shift workers.  Check out these three data-driven tools that help you meet demand and raise profit!

1. Cover all your bases with Key Alerts

Anything can happen after publishing a roster. Monitoring tardiness and breaks, substituting unavailable staff, and calling in extra help are all part of running a shift. And losing track of them has severe cost and productivity impact that accumulate over time. For example, if staff clock-in or out late, the business doesn’t have the appropriate level of staff. There could be too few or too many for several minutes, even hours. If there’s only one person rostered and they’re 10 minutes late, the revenue potential for those 10 minutes is zero. Your quality of service suffers tremendously. That’s where Key Alerts comes in.

Key Alerts helps you make sure that the staff sticks to their rostered hours. It lets you know who clocks-in or out late, doesn’t take breaks, or takes breaks too long. This is helpful throughout the year, regardless if it’s peak season or not. But especially during peak season, deciding on whether to allow overtime is crucial, particularly when it comes to being on top of wage costs and additional allowances. Key Alerts, which comes for free with Tanda’s mobile app, also flags managers if staff is approaching overtime. The data lets you decide between paying overtime and calling in another capable staff member. And because software takes care of monitoring for you, all bases are always covered.

Read more: Why Live Workforce Data is the Future

2. Respond to changes in real-time with Live Insights

Getting Key Alerts throughout the day is one thing, but responding to real-time demand is another. For hospitality, retail, and food businesses, events in the area cause an uptick in customers. Sometimes, the change can be so unprecedented that the staff is swamped and customers are left unsatisfied. Fortunately, you already have something at hand that can help you keep up: your Point-of-Sale (POS) system. Your POS can track the number and type of sales each employee makes, and more importantly when they make those sales. The same data can be used to optimise your daily operations.

Live Insights, or real-time staffing, utilises data from your POS to tell you if you’re under- or over-staffed. Previously, managers needed to wait for end-of-day reports to see if the rostered staff was enough and how the business went overall.  With Live Insights, multiple staffing decisions can be made throughout the day in response to real-time data. You can see how much you’ve made compared to how much you’re spending on wages. You can also see how sales compare to expected numbers. Based on this data, you can adjust staffing levels to make sure targets are hit and customers are happy.

Read more: Introducing Live Insights: Using real-time staffing to secure your business

3. Plan ahead better with Cognitive Rostering

Continuously learning from experience to plan better is the key to success. Many businesses rely on optimising wage costs to ensure a decent profit margin. During peak season, there is a real opportunity to recover from slow days. You can engage more customers and create programs that can keep them coming back throughout the year. But when you overspend on wages, that opportunity is lost. So how do you get the staffing level right? How do you make sure that your customers are getting the best service without spending too much on wages? The simple answer: use technology to learn better.

With Cognitive Rostering, you don’t have to remember how you built your most effective roster a year ago. Using indicators such as wage percentage of sales, this tool builds the perfect roster for you. And because it learns how your business is doing, the more you use it, the better it works. Cognitive Rostering uses your own data to save you time, effort, and money. You can test millions of scenarios for every roster to find the optimal solution, and you can concentrate on more important tasks like training staff or developing sales strategies. In short, you can empower yourself to grow your business faster than you ever thought you could.

Read more: How this retailer increased profit by $8.9m from rostering more hours

Stop guessing — Become a data-driven workforce

Technology for businesses has definitely gone far. But they can go much farther, right into the heart of your business: workforce management. No company or organisation will survive without its workforce. For many businesses, especially those that rely on shift workers, wages are the biggest overhead expense. However, we often use outdated systems to manage them. Data and digital technology are highly transformative, and businesses need to take advantage of them. Key Alerts, Live Insights, and Cognitive Rostering are testaments to the difference data can make on operations, whether it’s peak season or not.

There is no way around it: meeting demand, raising profit, and growing your business can only be done with a data-driven workforce. You need to use technology not only to solve workplace challenges but also to optimise it. Investing in the correct workforce technology platform can increase productivity, savings, and even sustainability. The long-term benefits of shifting to a workforce technology platform are more than worth its initial birthing pains. Taking advantage of these tools may well determine if you will succeed in this increasingly fast-paced business environment.

Free eBook: Overcoming Employee Challenges in Shift Work Industries

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Not sure how to set your shift schedule? Just follow your customer

I have never met a restaurateur that enjoys doing their weekly staff schedule. It is quite a juggling act, taking into consideration that each employee does specific tasks during different times of the day. So what is the best way to schedule staff shifts? How can you set it up that everybody gets the most out of everyone’s time? I was just at National Restaurant Show in Chicago, where Tanda was one of the exhibitors. It was quite an insightful four days, roaming around the show floor discovering the latest trends in the restaurant industry. At the same time, I got to chat with industry veterans that have been in the industry literally for 50 years. One of them shared with me this easy-to-implement method of shift scheduling. He simply put: your shift schedule should follow your customer. According to him, the best way to properly schedule your shifts is by charting your customer touch points from the moment they enter the restaurant down to when they leave the establishment. This customer-focused approach resonated with me as it aligned with my beliefs on how a company’s staffing levels should be in sync with their customer service structure. Who’s First? Who’s Next? Who’s Last? The people who should clock in first are the first people your customers see. They are the hosts, greeters, or maître ds. They are the ones responsible for greeting people at the door, taking and holding reservations, and guiding them to their table. So they should start ahead of the pack. Once customers are seated, that’s the time servers come in to take their order. This means that they should be the ones who clock in next. People generally take 15 minutes to get seated and order. By this time, you will definitely want your kitchen staff already at their stations, ready to cook and deliver each dish for service. Tables generally turn over within an hour these days. That means your dish washers have to start working an hour and 15 minutes after your first guest enters the restaurant. Now, service is over and guests are departing the establishment. So you may start sending your servers home an hour after your last guest sits down.   Using data from your point of sale (POS), Tanda helps you visualize your customers’ flow through your restaurant. This enables you to match your staffing schedule accordingly.

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3 Strategies to Master Your Wage Costs

Understanding your wage costs from a financial report is a bit like trying to piece back together a fruit smoothie that’s already been blended. Only a fraction of employers ever master their wage costs. Those who do are able to turn what’s viewed as a burden by their competitors into their best competitive advantage. A well trained and engaged workforce is a terrifyingly sharp weapon to take to your competition. The secret to it all is actually highly practical in application. It has been proven through decades of research that links highly engaged workforces to increases in topline revenue. We’ve worked with some of the most successful companies in traditionally low margin industries. Here are three of the most potent strategies you can apply to turn your workforce into your weapon in the new year. (1) Start measuring the future, rather than just reporting the past Financial reports are good if you want to see what happened yesterday. But taking control of wage costs is a long-term game. This means managing all expenses that a company bears for the employment of a staff member. This includes everything from gross salaries and benefits to other legal employer contributions. If you want to improve your future wage cost position, you need to start in advance. Building a conceptual report of your future wage costs works well because changes to the way you manage your workforce can take a long time to flow through. That’s especially true when it comes to agreed rostered hours, employment types, and hiring strategies, which take time to materialise into long term savings. You know what Christmas trade was like last year, so what will it look like in the new financial year with higher wage costs and new employees? What could you change throughout the year in terms of things like the types of employees you hire and their agreed hours? The difference can be significant. Scenario test your forecasts based on employment type, age, level and test the impact of unforeseen overtime. Software will greatly speed this process up. If you’re only reporting on how well you’ve done, start reporting into the future in 2019. Plan to be successful in the future so you can start moving towards your goals now. (2) Tie up loose ends with a sharp ‘day of operations’ plan A well-run shift feels good, it’s like a hot knife through butter. The perfect win-win-win for business, employee, and customer. For some businesses, this is a random occurrence, but businesses that invest in the success of their workforce replicate this effect on a daily basis. It sounds simple enough: you need the right people in the right place at the right times, and management that leads the charge from the front.   The reality is that planning and execution have many moving parts, which is why the day of operations plan holds key to your long term success. Staff levels should track your schedule, or day of operations plan, like clockwork. Any observed discrepancies should be viewed in light of demand being increased or decreased versus what was expected. At Tanda we we’ve quantified the ‘loose ends’ of a shift to be worth at least 1% of total payroll cost, based on clients who moved off manual timesheets. These represent just the small 1 to 5 minute variances here or there to what was planned, so with larger unexpected variances there can be a much larger than 1% difference between your plan and actual costs. Executing shifts with precision and recording times accurate to the minute is low hanging fruit in 2019.  You can do this by setting goals for the time between trading or production end, and the official shift end, to encourage staff to finish diligently. If the original plan results in success, sticking to the plan guarantees it. Tanda’s Live Wage Tracker lets you see wage costs in real-time and adjust staffing levels to drive profitability (3) Return Managers to the Frontline If you want to sell more, make more, and ultimately do more in 2019, empower your managers to lead from the front. This is an opportunity that most businesses leave on the table. Frontline managers are your managers who lead shifts and teams, and they lead more employees than any other level of management. Remember, frontline staff have direct and measurable impacts on top line revenue and quality — they are the doers of any company. Research shows that the most valuable thing a frontline manager can do is allocate time to lead from the front, yet frontline managers spend more time on administration than on more important things like coaching and training. Make the admin the exception. Analyse what keeps managers in their office and automate it,  so they can lead the charge from the front. Industrial engineers use the fancy term “task-based observation”, but in practice finding out what to automate is as simple as analysing each piece of paper a manager touches and asking, “why?” Tanda’s Live Wage Tracker monitors your wage costs in real time as Tanda’s Award Engine calculates the exact cost of your wages for each minute of the day Master your Wage Costs Mastering your wage costs only takes a few key changes to the way you do business. First, investing in the right software will empower you to accurately forecast the next 12 months and beyond based on both reported data and common scenarios. Workforce success platforms like Tanda eliminate the need to guess how different employment and overtime levels affect revenue. Second, planning ahead and having contingencies ensure that every shift runs well and no resources are wasted. 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Why employees love Tanda’s Workforce Success software

Workplace automation, including the use of artificial intelligence and robotics, is expected to surge in the next three years, according to multinational insurance broker Willis Towers Watson. This development is unsurprising, as automating HR can lead to significant cost savings for your organisation, especially when implemented in managing attendance, eradicating benefit errors, and automating compliance. With the growing demand for advanced technology use, automating HR processes is not an eventuality, it’s a necessity. But streamlining processes and lowering administrative costs is only one side of the coin. Yes, owners, employers, and managers stand to gain a lot from ensuring that the business is ready for the future. But employees, too, are benefiting from workforce technology platforms that not only ensure wages are paid accurately and on time, but also introduce flexibility and increase transparency in the workplace. Employees love Tanda’s workforce success software because it empowers them in more ways than one. Read about how Tanda is making a difference in workplaces around the world. Error-free Timesheets and Pay Runs The first and most obvious benefit of workforce technology platforms is error-free timesheets and accurate pay runs. Companies that still use manual methods for timekeeping and pay calculation can cause employees to second guess if they’re really getting paid the right amount every time the payslip arrives. In fact, Australia recently had a spate of wage theft accusations, leaving in its wake damaged reputations and millions in back wages. Owners and managers commonly cite a lack of understanding of Australia’s complex award system as the reason it happens. Read more: Taking Back Time: Solving the enduring wage theft problem in Australia Switching to the Tanda employee time clock app ensures staff that their shifts are recorded accurately throughout the pay period. Timesheets are processed with Tanda’s award interpreter, to account for modern awards of Fair Work Australia as well as other enterprise award agreements. This is then exported in a format compatible with a host of payroll integrations, making pay runs quick and reliable. This increases the level of trust and transparency between employers and employees, which in turn increase productivity and engagement in the long run. Better Work-Life Balance When employees have a healthy work-life balance, they become more fulfilled with their work, and more invested in the future of the company. There are a number of ways flexibility can be introduced into a company without hurting the bottom line. For instance, Tanda’s unavailability calendar feature lets employees tell their managers whenever they might not be open for shifts. This helps the company create rosters around each person’s unavailability. Another feature, leave management, optimises the leave request process and lets staff file requests via the web browser or employee app. For some companies, more novel solutions like shift swapping are providing employees with more options to achieve better work-life balance. It allows shift workers to trade shifts with one another when the need arises. This lets shift workers strike a balance between their personal commitments and work responsibilities. Tanda’s shift swapping feature that integrates into its time and attendance web and mobile apps. It lets staff request to drop or cover a shift right from their mobile phone, making it easy for them to start the swapping process. Read more: Achieving Workforce Success: Shift Swapping for Managers Reliable Rostering and Communication Employees need to know their schedule well ahead of time so that they can plan their upcoming week. Tanda’s web-based rostering software cuts down the time companies spend making the weekly roster. Cognitive Rosters® can be connected to your existing roster templates for the predictive suggestion of staffing requirements. Once approved, Tanda sends the roster to staff via SMS, email, or employee app. Employees can then inform their manager of any leave requests or else apply for a swap, dramatically reducing the chances of unfilled shifts throughout the week. Proper rostering is extremely important because overstretched employees aren’t productive. Too few staff on a given shift affects how they engage customers and respond to demands. Tanda’s Predictive Workforce feature uses sales data from the business’ Point-of-Sale (POS) to give an accurate forecast on how many people are needed on any given shift. During the day, Live Insights can be used to make key decisions on whether to call more people in, ensuring that the high quality of operation is sustained and uninterrupted. Read more: Introducing Live Insights: Using real-time staffing to secure your business Transparent and Engaging Workplace According to a survey done by Interaction Associates, 86% of employees say that they are more productive if they trust their employers. A separate study by advocacy group Trust Across America found that trustworthy companies outperform companies in the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index. Building that kind of game-changing trust starts with transparency within the organisation. Employees must know that their company is working in the interests of all and they are open about the information that matters to them. With a world-class workforce success software like Tanda, employees have access to a portal that lets them know their time and attendance records, time off allowances, and upcoming shift schedules. It also increases employee engagement in other ways, like clocking in by taking a selfie on the Tanda Time Clock. Starting the workday with a smile can change the employee’s whole perspective, which can lead to a better rapport with customers and fellow coworkers. And with Tanda doing most of the admin work, employees have more time to do the things that matter to them. Read more: Crafting Workforce Success at Windsor Alehouse Why Workforce Software Matters For the modern employee to do their best at work, they need to feel that the company is supporting them and is willing to adjust to their needs from time to time. They need to know that the company they’re working for pays them correctly, supports their life commitments, and effectively communicates with them at all times. Companies can make all this happen by moving on from outdated processes that bogs down human resource management. By using workforce management software, employees are more motivated to work, empowered by a platform that allows companies to drive trust, engagement, and the ultimate employee experience. Ready to find out what Tanda can do for your business? Book a demo today.

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Rosie Ramirez

Our team's goal is to provide practical advice for business owners and managers across industries.

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3 Strategies to Master Your Wage Costs

Understanding your wage costs from a financial report is a bit like trying to piece back together a fruit smoothie that’s already been blended. Only a fraction of employers ever master their wage costs. Those who do are able to turn what’s viewed as a burden by their competitors into their best competitive advantage. A […]

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Why employees love Tanda’s Workforce Success software

Workplace automation, including the use of artificial intelligence and robotics, is expected to surge in the next three years, according to multinational insurance broker Willis Towers Watson. This development is unsurprising, as automating HR can lead to significant cost savings for your organisation, especially when implemented in managing attendance, eradicating benefit errors, and automating compliance. […]

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