Optimize Costs and Service with Labor Scheduling Tips for Restaurants

The Importance of Labor Scheduling in Restaurants

Labor costs account for 25-40% of a restaurant's overall operating budget. Proper labor scheduling can lower labor costs and improve labor management processes immensely.

Labor scheduling is a critical component of workforce management and the sales forecasting process. Sales forecasting provides businesses with workforce scheduling recommendations based on anticipated business trends and customer demands.

Customer success and customer service capabilities are increased when labor scheduling is accurately executed. Finding a balance between employee availability and scheduling needs additionally improves the overall employee experience.

Restaurant Labor Scheduling Tips

Restaurant labor scheduling is a complicated process that frequently requires many hours of employee time. However, there are many best practice tips that business professionals can utilize to accommodate scheduling needs while keeping the scheduling process as simple as possible.

Best practice tips for labor scheduling include-

1. Employee Feedback

When hiring new staff members make sure your human resources department inquires about employee availability to avoid future scheduling issues. Whenever possible, create a work schedule that accommodates employee preferred shifts.

Employee scheduling software can streamline this process by offering self service capabilities to employees directly. Automated scheduling that takes into consideration employee availability effortlessly, paired with shift swapping privileges, will decrease labor costs significantly.

Both call-outs and overtime are detrimental labor scheduling issues that can be easily bypassed with a scheduling software solution.

2. Trend Analysis

Understanding how many employees are required for each shift is a labor management essential. Scheduling solutions such as time tracking tools can provide insight into the effectiveness and efficiency of your employee scheduling process.

Daily labor cost calculations are a best practice technique to keep your labor costs at a reasonable level. While labor costs should sit between the 25-45% range of a business's budget, a realistic objective is to keep labor costs around 30%.

Sales forecasting is an invaluable asset for employee scheduling processes. Using historical data, businesses can create schedules that balance scheduling needs with labor cost control.

3. Technological Investments

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Scheduling solutions including scheduling tools and employee scheduling software can streamline and simplify the employee scheduling process. Instead of a human employee needing to create schedules manually, scheduling software can automate most of the scheduling process.

Automating the scheduling process decreases the likelihood of errors or costly labor law violations. Workforce scheduling is upgraded when companies invest in the right scheduling software and tools for their business.

4. Communication Channels

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A centralized communication channel allows employees to work collaboratively and avoid disastrous miscommunications. Instead of employee communications occurring on various communication channels, all requests can be seen in one location.

Employees can discuss workforce scheduling in real time instead of working off an outdated work schedule or irrelevant dialogue. Conversations about shift swapping or volunteering for an open shift are recorded and easily accessible for future reference.

Scheduling software that includes a communication platform should have mobile app accessibility and provide easy use capabilities to your employees.

5. Labor Costs Minimization

A common misconception about employee scheduling is that more employees on staff will result in a better customer service experience. However, having too many employees on staff actually decreases productivity, resulting in unnecessarily high labor costs coupled with unmotivated and unengaged employees.

Make sure you do not decrease employee scheduling to the point where customer success is negatively impacted. Account for scheduling needs but avoid labor scheduling that is inadequate in order to find a customer service and labor cost balance that works best for your business.

6. Optimize Available Resources

An insidious culprit of unnecessary labor costs are underperforming employees. Employees who are not performing well should be retrained, and in extreme cases, dismissed.

Employees are your most crucial assets and should be your largest investment. Make sure your human resources department has the necessary tools to adequately train and onboard new employees.

Request feedback from employees regularly in order to pinpoint places where workforce management can further improve. By utilizing these best practice tips, your business will be on its way to labor scheduling optimization.


  • Labor scheduling is a workforce management process that heavily influences a variety of business concerns ranging from labor costs to customer service capabilities.
  • Labor costs generally account for 25-40% of the overall budget and should ideally hover around 30%.
  • Sales forecasting can help create a foundation from which to base labor scheduling by anticipating customer demand and business trends.
  • Make sure your human resources department asks about employee availability whenever a new staff member is hired. Additionally, ensure your human resources department is provided with the tools necessary to train and onboard employees effectively.
  • Create an employee schedule that takes into consideration business needs and employee availability to decrease call-outs or overtime pay.
  • Scheduling software should provide easy use capabilities and be beneficial for all employees. Automated scheduling and shift swapping can streamline the entire labor scheduling process.
  • The communication platform included in your scheduling software should ideally have mobile app accessibility.
  • Having more employees scheduled for a shift does not necessarily mean that customer service capabilities will be increased. In fact, overscheduling can decrease not only customer service but also employee engagement and productivity levels.