scheduling staff trying to anticipate daily business

It becomes difficult to figure out each night how many people we need to handle businees. Some nights become very slow while others exceed our expectations.

Any ideas on how to best have enough?

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Bill-
Read my book, "Cooking With Gas: The Official Guide for Restaurant Start-ups and Operations." In it I answer your questions and many others. What you need to create for yourself is a "Matrix." It is based on your projected sales and your productivity. Find out all about it my book which will be a resource for you.

Luke Saucier
A question near and dear to my heart! This is hard, it really is hard. If you don't mind (I'll try to be short and to the point), let's describe two scenarios:

In scenario one, you schedule everyone you could possibly need. You know, if every seat is full, you'll need X servers, Y cooks, Z bartenders, etc... On a really busy day, this is a good set up. But every other day of the week, you have staff showing up, and then you are paying them until you cut them -- because you don't need them. They're likely going to be pissed. Your payroll will go up, your retention will go down. Business tanks.

In scenario two, you schedule a skeleton crew -- who you need if only a few customers show up. On a really slow day, this is a good set up. But again, every other day of the week, you are going to scramble getting staff in when you realize you are under-staffed -- and your staff is likely going to be pissed because they had other plans. Your payroll goes down, your turnover goes way up. Business tanks.

In an ideal scenario, you schedule exactly enough staff so that they show up when you need them, and they are cut when no one else is coming in. Your variance between the schedule and your payroll should be 0% -- if you're nailing this right.

To get there, you first need to improve your forecasting, or how you guess at customer demand. There are a number of ways to do this, but you probably need to start with some basic reports from your POS system (the pics on your site would lead me to believe you have one). I would look back at items that might impact your schedules and sales. Some items to look at:

- Gross and net sales (dollars made by your business)
- Covers (people who bought something from your business)
- Time of Day (meal period differences)
- Day of Week (Fridays are more busy than Mondays, but by how much?)
- Week and day of month (Are your clientele living paycheck to paycheck?)
- Time of year (seasonality)
- Advertising you are running / ran (coupons, newspapers, billboards, radio, email newsletter)
- Advertising others in your area have run (Tax free weekend, furniture store next door)
- Games (high school, college, pro -- any season)
- Etc...

Data mining is the 'science' of getting this data out of your POS system (and stored in your main computer -- your brain), and identifying trends. Once you have the trends identified, you're only one step away from making an effective schedule.

Feel free to contact me -- we are releasing a tool that will do some / all of this for you, and I'd love to get some feedback from you.

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