How to select the right server for the right shift
Creating a restaurant schedule is a dreaded operational task for most managers. During the Covid-19 pandemic, restaurant scheduling presents even more challenges than usual. Operators are working with paper-thin budgets and many are having a tough time keeping staff. There are a lot of software applications available on the market. They help with the logistics of building schedules by logging employees’ available days/times and applying rules-based logic to fill the open shifts with available servers. If you don’t mind missing out on higher sales and just want to fill in the blanks, traditional scheduling software will suffice. But when done correctly, restaurant scheduling isn’t a mundane task. And it’s not just about coverage. It’s a big opportunity to generate more revenue.
Traditional scheduling practices miss the mark
The key to scheduling for greater profit is putting the right server on the right shift. The problem is that many operators think they know who the right servers are, but for all the wrong reasons. Without detailed performance data on each server, operators are more likely to be influenced by a server’s:
- Social standing
Those qualities matter in terms of who to hire, nurture, and reward. But they don’t actually indicate top performers in quantifiable terms. If you dole out shifts according to your gut, those factors are likely to sway your decision, even on a subconscious level. When you leave staffing decisions up to gut feelings, social hierarchies, and seniority, you’re not doing yourself or your restaurant any favors.
Considering the potential revenue each server can bring into your restaurant should be at the forefront of your scheduling process.
That doesn’t mean you can’t effectively leverage high-value shifts as a reward. Just make sure you’re using useful data to pinpoint the behaviors that are truly worth rewarding. Just because Susan hasn’t missed a shift since 1985 doesn’t mean she’s still your best bet in your busiest section on a Friday night. If Susan is a long-time hard-working employee you should absolutely reward her. But there’s probably a lot more cost-effective way than by giving away your big money shifts if she’s not a top performer.
Use data to accurately spot top performers
To truly understand the specific strengths and weaknesses of every team member, you need data. The end of shift report from the POS might list each server’s gross sales. But it won’t tell you the true story about what’s going on with your service team.
Can you quickly see who sold the most over the course of the week, the month, and the year. Do those numbers account for the number of shifts each server worked in a comparable time frame? The number of covers per shift? Their table turn time? Do you know who’s the best at selling signature dishes or category items, like appetizers and desserts? Can you quickly see what a server’s average tip percentage is compared to their co-workers? Who’s making the most of a shoddy section?
Theoretically, you could track some of those data points manually in a spreadsheet, gleaned from the six-foot-long print out report from your POS. Chances are, you’re not, and who could blame you? Most operators don’t have that kind of time.
Play to servers’ strengths and identify opportunities
Imagine that you have three reliable servers, Annie, Rashena, and Nate. They all seem to have happy customers most of the time. On any given day, their sales generally reflect the day’s totals, falling anywhere between first and third in server sales out of a team of six. Glancing at their shift totals and making a mental note might be the extent of your investigation. Your gut will tell you that you’ll do fine as long as long as one of them is on the floor at any given time. But if you want to do your best, you have some more digging to do.
With a deeper dive into more granular data, like the Avero Server Summary Report you would notice that today, Rashena was your swing server. She worked fewer hours than Nate and Annie. And though Nate ended the shift with higher sales than Rashena, his per person average was actually lower than hers. Annie’s sales were highest overall, even though Nate had more covers.
So what are Annie and Rashena doing that enables them to have higher sales with fewer customers? What is Nate doing differently that results in lower per person averages? There are important answers to these questions that you can easily see when you have the right data on hand.
To go even deeper, you may want to look at the Servers Scorecard to see performance at the item level. With roughly the same number of days on evening shifts this month, Annie leads the pack in wine sales. By a lot. Nate does well selling your high-dollar protein items like the ribeye and filet but rarely sells appetizers.
With that insight, you may decide to make sure that Annie works in a high-traffic section on pasta night. She excels at selling wine, and wine sells at a higher rate on pasta night overall. And if you put Rashena on Nate’s regular balcony brunch shift where there’s high traffic, but not a lot of high dollar protein sales, you can give him a Friday night shift in the bar/lounge area instead and coach him on suggesting appetizers.
With just these few simple tweaks, you could significantly increase your revenue. Especially if getting a clear picture of your service team took you less time than it takes to stock paper towels in the bathrooms. Take it a step farther by asking Annie to mentor Rashena on wine sales. Then and you’ll really boost your time to reward ratio.
Let data lead the conversation
Take the politics out of management. With hard numbers to back you up, you don’t have to worry about being perceived as unfair or having favorites when someone is upset about their schedule. You can have hard conversations about a server’s performance with more objectivity and clear recommendations for improvement.
When you’re able to give your staff valuable feedback on the precise opportunities they’re missing and demonstrate that you reward top performers on a truly level playing field, the conversations will be easier to have. You can’t really argue with or hold a grudge against data.
Data can clearly show your staff the gap between their actual tips and their tip potential as well. Rashena may not be motivated by the fact that Annie outsells her in wine three to one. She’ll likely care more when she sees the correlation in her tips. Higher tips will likely have a personal impact on Rashena that motivates her more than simply attending a wine training. And when she improves, you’ll both appreciate the increased revenue.
Unlock your service team data
Your POS system already receives the data you need to make more profitable schedules. Every time a server rings in a ticket, they’re submitting data about their performance. You just need Avero to capture it and turn it into actionable insights you can use to make better-informed decisions.
Avero’s Service Team data insights help you focus on the right qualities when evaluating your waitstaff and creating restaurant schedules. Avero serves up specific opportunities for server improvement. With ready access to the right data, it’s easy to make small but impactful changes that can significantly increase every server’s average ticket.