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Buyer's Guide

by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 11, 2017

Manually creating schedules for all the employees in your restaurant can sometimes lead to major errors. Such errors can result in high employee turnover, which impacts overall productivity. Poor scheduling can cause confusion among managers and reduce employee morale. Low employee retention and job dissatisfaction will ultimately lower your restaurant’s profitability.

When managing a restaurant, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your cooks and waitstaff are going to show up for their shifts. That’s why you should consider dedicated restaurant scheduling software: It can help you better manage and automate tedious scheduling tasks, while ensuring staff know where they need to be and when.

In this Buyer’s Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to choose the right restaurant scheduling software for your business, including:

Benefits of Restaurant Scheduling Software
Common Functionality of Restaurant Scheduling Software
How Is Restaurant Scheduling Software Priced?
Key Considerations for Restaurant Scheduling Software

Benefits of Restaurant Scheduling Software

Still doing scheduling with paper or spreadsheets? As we found in a recent report, dedicated scheduling software offers a number of benefits over manual methods, including:

Increased automation. Tools, such as reusable templates and “copy and paste” scheduling, can make many tedious aspects of shift schedule management disappear. Employee-facing capabilities, such as automated shift reminders and shift swapping, can also transfer some of the burden to your workers.

Improved communication. With real-time scheduling, workers and managers can stay up to date if a schedule changes or someone is unable to come in. Text or email notifications can also be enabled so that everyone is in the know, even when away from a computer.

More accurate scheduling. Keeping track of changing worker availability, preferences and certifications manually can lead to errors. With software, all these factors are tracked automatically—that is, potential shift-scheduling conflicts are identified ahead of time.

Controlled labor costs. Integrating your scheduling platform with your payroll system allows you to accurately compensate employees for the hours they worked, saving you money.

Remotely track time and attendance. Mobile access is increasingly a key feature offered by scheduling software, helping restaurant managers and owners to track the time spent by employees at work. They can also monitor time reports on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Common Functionality of Restaurant Scheduling Software

There are a number of common capabilities found in restaurant scheduling applications that are mentioned in the below diagram:

Time clock integration Keeps track of clock-ins and clock-outs through a wall clock or an online web portal. This data can also be used by the finance team to calculate labor costs and pay them accordingly.
Reporting Generates reports about labor budgets, hours worked and more. Detailed reports about paid time-offs, sick leaves or other leaves requested by employees can be downloaded by restaurant managers. These reports help them to plan staff scheduling and allocating.
POS integration Integrates the scheduling system with your point-of-sale software to forecast sales and labor requirements.
Optimal schedule creation With all the important factors, such as employee availability, leave details and business requirement, being tracked, optimal schedules can be created to avoid any conflicts. The software also tries to keep the labor cost within the budget and ensures that a few senior employees are always present in the restaurant.
Availability and certification tracking Shows you when your workers are available, and which ones have proper certification for things such as ServSafe.
Mobile access Allows users to view and modify schedules and availability from their mobile device. Some systems offer native mobile apps for the best experience.
Scheduling notifications and reminders An automatic notification is sent to the employees to inform them about their shift timings. It can also offer them the flexibility to swap their shifts with another colleague in case of an emergency. Shift reminders are sent on mobile devices to ensure that people are available on time.

How Is Restaurant Scheduling Software Priced?

Restaurant scheduling software is usually priced under one of two models: subscription-based or a perpetual license.

Subscription-based A monthly or annual fee to use the software that is typically based on the number of employees who need to access it.
Perpetual license A one-time fee paid up front to use the software indefinitely.

Most restaurant scheduling software platforms are cloud-based and typically sold under a subscription model. However, there are some on-premise solutions, sold under a perpetual license, which offer more customizations and greater data control.

The subscription-based model generally enables users to upgrade or add features when their business starts to flourish. It is mostly prefered by SMBs as it doesn’t require a huge investment. Your business needs, size and budget will determine what’s best for you.

Key Considerations for Restaurant Scheduling Software

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re evaluating restaurant scheduling software for your business:

Scalability. The solution should be scalable to meet the growing needs of your business. It should also offer advanced features that users can use once they are well versed with the basic functionality of the software. These advanced features may be provided at an additional cost.

Easy-to-use interface. The solution should require minimal training and should be easy to navigate for anyone across the organization. Managers should be able to set schedules for various shifts and employees can view their reporting timings with minimum effort. This will lead to a higher adoption rate that defines the success of any scheduling software.

Forecast capabilities. A few solutions offer sales and labor forecast capabilities that enable managers to predict the number of employees required on a particular day and time. This reduces the requirement for on-call personnel and helps managers prepare smarter schedules.

Enhanced transparency. The transparent scheduling solution allows all the employees to view the schedules of their colleagues and interchange shifts with them in case of a personal emergency. Employees can also pick their own shifts, which helps in improving the staff’s efficiency and their satisfaction with work.

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