Making the Perfect Shift Schedule

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Posted: Jan. 20, 2017

Shift schedule means bringing together what’s best for the restaurant and your staff. Most managers would agree that finding (and maintaining) that balance is much easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. Develop a master restaurant schedule, and get to know your employees. Then use new technology to maintain a functional restaurant shift schedule. Find out how below.

Build a Master Restaurant Task Schedule

Never underestimate the power of a master schedule. When prepared properly, it’s a guaranteed resource that will help you manage operations smoothly and efficiently. Every task required in your restaurant will be included here, ensuring that you don’t forget or overlook one.

Start by listing out every job function in your restaurant, such as:

  • Cleaning duties
  • Food prep
  • Bussing
  • Serving
  • Floor management
  • Bartending
  • Training

Every restaurant is a little different, so you might want to take one or two days to observe your restaurant’s movements. If you are a pizza restaurant, who’s in charge of making the dough and adding the toppings? If your décor is important, take note of who lights the candles and orders fresh flowers. Also, be mindful of your rush hours and, conversely, the slower times of the week.

No matter how small the task, create a detailed list of what goes on in your restaurant to develop a fine-tuned master restaurant schedule. This comprehensive task calendar will help you cover all the bases—and it will save you a great deal of time.

Know Your Staff

This suggestion needs little explanation: Get to know the needs of your staff so you can avoid scheduling conflicts. Encourage long-time employees to share major life changes that will affect their regular hours, and speak with new hires about other obligations they might have. Request schedules if necessary (like class schedules) to keep your employees’ personal schedules on track.

Lavu Scheduling Tip: Build a master availability list. Build out a seven-day week calendar, and list which employees are available at what times. Do not include one-off days like a mother’s birthday party or a vacation request—this schedule is only meant to show your staff’s availability during a regular work week. Use it as a back-up hard copy against your main scheduling resource.

To go one step further, build out a vacation or time-off master schedule. If you are relying on well-positioned sticky notes to remember your employees’ day-off requests, you are asking for a scheduling mess.

Print out a full calendar year or create one in Microsoft Excel, so that you can easily pencil or type in approved day-off requests. Make it a habit to immediately add these days to the master vacation schedule, and you’ll improve your scheduling technique immeasurably.

At no time should you or another manager make a new shift schedule without first reviewing both master schedules.

Use New Restaurant Scheduling Technology

The beauty of new restaurant technology is how seamless it makes even the most complicated operations. Like scheduling shifts! See below how modern restaurant point-of-sale systems eliminate the trickier aspects of scheduling shifts.

Software Scheduling Options Prevent Conflicts

Use your master availability schedule to make a new schedule. Then use the online scheduling tool to make a precise shift schedule. Employee’s names are marked clearly, and shifts are color-coded when multiple staff members are scheduled for identical shifts, for easy discernment of scheduling issues. Schedules can be converted into either chart or graph easy-to-read printable formats.

Share Scheduling Notes with Management

If you have been managing or running a restaurant for some time, chances are you’ve had some miscommunication with other managers—an easy thing to do with traditional restaurant technology. With new technology, the management team can share comments and questions in a special notes field, which can only be viewed and edited by managers. This is a great function for communicating when a time-off request has been approved and then included in the master vacation schedule.

Employees Can Request Shift Coverage Easily Using the Employee Portal

For an employee, this might be the most relevant use of mobile restaurant technology. Let’s say you create the perfect shift schedule, but one employee has an emergency. No longer does he or she have to track down the company directory to find a replacement. Instead, that employee can release the scheduled shift to see if someone else can pick it up.

Schedules Are Available 24/7

Staff members are made 100% accountable for their work days with an online schedule. Through the restaurant system’s online platform, employees can check their schedules day and night (in rain or shine).

You can reduce labor costs by scheduling your staff the right amount of hours throughout the week. If you are unable to pay overtime wages, the scheduling system will notify you when an employee exceeds 40 hours per week. While you are responsible for calculating the number of hours an employee is scheduled, this functionality helps you comply with your restaurant’s budget.


With a master schedule and a willingness to work with employees, you are halfway there to making the perfect schedule again and again. To have an absolute guarantee, start relying on new scheduling technology. And remember, as is the case in all areas of running your restaurant, developing and maintaining a clear line of communication is extremely helpful. Have a comprehensive directory of your staff members’ phone numbers and email addresses, and develop a system for contacting everyone in case of an emergency.

Posted: Jan. 20, 2017 | Written By: Emma Alois

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