Ensure Enough Coverage for Your Restaurant at Any Given Time

Enrique Estagle

7 June 2017    |    read

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 servers are juggling multiple tables while tickets are lining up like crazy at the kitchen. How do you effectively plan your coverage 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 lunchtime and two services for dinnertime). 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 servers also cover bussing or washing dishes. Craft Your Schedule Once everything is set, it’s time for you to make the weekly schedule. Make this task quicker for you by leveraging online scheduling 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 clock 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 servers are juggling multiple tables while tickets are lining up like crazy at the kitchen. How do you effectively plan your coverage 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 lunchtime and two services for dinnertime). 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 servers also cover bussing or washing dishes.

Craft Your Schedule

Once everything is set, it’s time for you to make the weekly schedule. Make this task quicker for you by leveraging online scheduling 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 clock 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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About the author

Enrique Estagle

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

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