As much as it is your food or your ambiance, your restaurant is your staff. And they’re hard to juggle. Keeping the right people on the line and working the front of house can make or break a night, a present a real feat when you’re scheduling full-time and part-time employees who require certain hours to keep them on the job.
Since the dawn of time, the best restaurant managers have been a combination diplomat and math wiz. These days employee scheduling software has taken off much of that pressure. Using time tracking tools, real-time data, and attendance updates, managers can easily adjust schedules in minutes on the fly.
Labor management software now accounts for pay rate, multiple shifts, and even different locations. You just need a computer or mobile device to get started using a calendar, messaging system, and reporting capabilities.
Trust us: It beats a spreadsheet.
What to look for in scheduling software
The best employee scheduling systems account for time-off requests, hours, and your team’s availability. From one central system, managers can align schedules for workers who are on staff or seasonal. Staffers and managers can notify one another of conflicts or standby shifts, open shifts or early outs, vacation days, parental leave, or emergencies. Oh, and it tracks hours and lets your build shifts to fit your budget, so accounting is a snap.
Every shift scheduling software has its own unique features. Whether or not you need them all depends on your shift planning needs. For instance: Does it have mobile access, so your employees can check their schedules on the fly? Does it alert a staffer when you have last-minute shift openings or when you approve their time-off request? Does it have shift-swap parameters that make sure everyone hasn’t taken off the same Friday night? Does it let you easily compile and report your payroll so you don’t have any surprises come payday?
Once you have an idea of what you need, hit up a salesperson at the company that looks like the best fit for your restaurant. See if you need to buy any hardware (you probably won’t) and make sure the software is designed for restaurants (it probably is). Nail down the fee structure, how often you’ll have to upgrade, and how to get customer support. Then ask for a free trial, to make sure you and your employees jive with the user interface. The nicest system in the world isn’t worth its price if you simply don’t like using it.
Your needs and resources will vary, of course, but here are some popular options right now in employee scheduling software.
Popular scheduling softwares
Trusted by the likes of Five Guys, 7Shifts promises quick schedule creation and a free mobile app for schedule updates. It can build reports and communicate with staff. And it integrates with POS systems and payroll operations to fuse your finances into a single platform.
A suite of software designed with restaurants in mind, Better Chains cloud software offers a clear calendar interface for scheduling and allows staffers to arrange their own shift swaps with co-workers. Pending a manager’s approval, naturally.
If you manage a large team (or several teams), CrunchTime might be the right choice to meet compliance guidelines. It checks each shift schedule against local, state, and federal labor laws and alerts you if anything looks amiss. It’s built to integrate with POS, HR, and payroll systems, as well as other apps, and offers on-call, USA-based support.
Designed specifically for restaurants, Push Operations advertises itself not just as a schedule management tool, but a one-stop-shop for everything labor-related. That includes features to track time and request shifts as well as higher-level tasks such as onboarding and compliance management.
The a la carte approach to restaurant software, Restaurant 365 sells a variety of cloud-based restaurant operations software. It’s designed to help restaurants “scale labor best practices” by translating scheduling trends into smart data. Restaurant 365’s other tools include accounting and payroll suites which can be bundled, and which come with a demo, gratis. (Hey, free shift scheduling software!
This software promises to streamline scheduling, control labor costs, and increase employee communication through a single module. The platform manages scheduling and produces reports and forecasts to optimize your costs and avoid future headaches.
This employee scheduling software designed by hospitality professionals is lean and straightforward, a good option for a smaller mom-and-pop shop looking to enter the digital age of labor management. Right now the company is offering 50% off for hospitality businesses hurt by Covid-19.
Not to be confused with the streaming platform, Sling takes a democratic approach by allowing employees to sign up for shifts they’d like to work, an attempt to head off double bookings, tardiness, and absenteeism. It’s sleek and user-friendly, and yours to test-drive during a 14-day free trial.
Back of House is an independent, unbiased platform helping operators find and filter the solutions they need to succeed.