How successful restaurant chains optimize labor costs

crunchtime labor cost

At the heart of restaurant labor optimization is having a rock-solid forecast that accurately projects the ebbs and flows of your business days. A quality integrated back office system is your key to ensuring optimum labor costs. Here’s a look at how it works.

Forecast ebbs and flows

Forecasts should allow for a number of business drivers (sales, guests, transactions, menu mix) and learn from historical data, and they should also consider fixed tasks, holidays, LTO’s and other special events that affect the business day.

Next, you need to be able to build smart staffing demand templates that will translate your business drivers into a reliable staffing demand. Finally, as you build your schedules, you should have visibility into skill levels, certifications, pay rates, availability, budget information, and labor rules.

Sounds easy, right? But then stuff happens.

Mobility can make a difference

As the day begins, sales may be off the mark, employees may not be able to cover their shift, weather could impact different day parts, LTO’s may not be predictable or a media buy might have a surprising effect. This is where mobility can really make a difference. Having real-time access to evolving intraday sales trends, the timeliness and availability of your staff can empower your managers to make sound decisions on-the-fly as they run their shifts.

Further, right from their mobile device or desktop, managers can view a schedule, approve staff requests and communicate messages to relevant team members about shift openings or important updates. Mobility also facilitates collaboration with the restaurant team members who can easily offer, pick-up and swap shifts right from their own smartphones, tablets or desktop computers. The manager should not have to get involved until it is actionable by her.

While this is awesome and helps streamline scheduling, have no doubt—there are other critical aspects to consider when optimizing labor costs. 

Labor scheduling can’t be in a silo – it affects everything…

A restaurant management system or back office solution should also include integrated dynamically generated task lists. These ensure accountability to every core task of your restaurant operations. You cannot silo labor scheduling. Every core task in your restaurant can affect the delicate balance of safeguarding that you have the right person at the right place at the right time.

Having the ability to optimize the restaurant’s staff size and quality for every shift is what sets labor management apart from labor scheduling. Right-sizing your staff will reduce the costs associated with over and under-staffing. Using smart staffing templates will create labor schedules based on sales and guest-traffic forecasts, as well as past consumption and traffic patterns.

Good labor management solutions will have performance management capabilities, too. These allow operators to reward top performers and coach more effectively by tracking employee performance, attendance and task completion.

Okay, but what about overtime? Better solutions will provide visibility to overtime during the scheduling process and will alert your management team well before it occurs. If you are relying on labor systems to tell you about overtime violations as they are about to occur, you are going to be caught in a tough situation.

Navigate labor law and regulation compliance

Best practices are essential when it comes to following government labor law and regulation compliance. Make sure your labor management solution will help enforce compliance with local, state, federal and company labor laws, including break laws, minor laws and overtime guidelines. Going even further, the solution should be configurable to enable the company to enforce best labor practices in every location anywhere in the world—in any language. Finally, a secure labor solution will also create audit trails for all critical transactions.

Labor management isn’t only about shift scheduling apps, and it isn’t only about making sure your employees have an easy way to request time off or trade shifts. No, labor management is really all about labor optimization and helping the company consistently find a perfect balance of staffing requirements-to-sales projections, day-in and day-out.

If you would like to learn more about how back office solution technologies can help your restaurants, reach out to CrunchTime and request a demonstration.

This post is sponsored by CrunchTime! Information Systems


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