Restaurant Scheduling for Success – Excerpt from "How to Improve Dining Room Service"






Restaurant staff scheduling ties directly into the dining room service and crucial for keeping your staff tight, happy and well connected. In every way, a balance must be achieved by matching the dining room service labor needs to foreseen business. There should be a system where the staff shift availability days can be communicated in writing to the person who makes up the schedule. A simple staff shift availability sign-up sheet posted conspicuously will do as each staff member should work a balanced amount of shifts throughout the week. If the schedule maker is burning out staff members with extra shifts or scheduling too many staff members to work only 1 or 2 shifts, it will subtract from customer service. A restaurant will get more efficiency from staff members working 3, 4, or more shifts per week rather than only 1 or 2 shifts per week. One may have to bend this guideline to keep the work schedule filled, but it should be kept to a minimum. Constant communication with the staff while staying abreast of their available work shifts will facilitate the scheduling process immensely.

The person who makes the schedule should be highly aware of the planned business in the restaurant. The schedule should contain the correct amount of labor needed to provide a proper level of service for each work shift. Seasonal aspects, (eg busy holidays / slow summers), special occasions, private parties etc. must be illustrated into the schedule. Any outside activity that may affect business in the restaurant such as food festivals, parades etc. needs to be taken into account. If there are separate dining rooms, the busy times must be properly forecasted for each room especially if one dining room is more popular than another. If there is outdoor seating, the weather should be watched for it can change quickly.

Forecasting helps to schedule the correct amount of dining room service staff with the perfect balance always being thought. If there is light scheduling on a day that gets very busy, the restaurant service will be slow and inefficient –affecting sales and reputation. On the contrary, if there is heavy scheduling on light business days, it will become frustrating as the waiters will be working very few tables while draining the payroll.

Typically, the schedule should start Sunday; therefore it needs to be posted by Thursday or Friday of the previous week. Excel spreadsheet formats are great for scheduling organization. The schedule should be posted in an easily viewable location with enough copies available for all staff. Staff phone lists should also be printed, copied and made readily available to all. This improves communication especially for work shift substitutions.

This leads to the substitution process for staff work shifts. There needs to be a Constitution Book available available with blank spaces for names, upcoming dates and work shifts for the next 1 to 2 months. If a substitution made, the information must be recorded with the date and shift time (am / pm). It must be initiated by both parties involved in the constitution and finally initiated by a manager ensuring no mistakes in communication. A substitution mishap may result in a shift not being covered.

Scheduling may look great for payroll cost control, but it must be remembered that dining room service staff are real people with real lives which cheerful and efficient service is what restaurants are dependent upon. The schedule maker needs to be understanding towards the staff's schedule requests, but should not roll over and play dead (again, balance). It is impossible to please everyone 100% all of the time, but a proper scheduling balance will definitely improve restaurant dining room customer service.

*** It is better for a manager or service consultant to handle the schedule at the initial phases of a new operation and should be monitored by a second or third person especially if the restaurant has just opened. Some mature restaurants may let a senior member of the service staff handle the schedule because there is better communiqué with schedule concerns. Please use whichever system works best for the establishment for the staff schedule is a strong part of customer service and should not be taken lightly.


Source by Richard Saporito