May 15 2014 – Robert Fiumara
There’s no question that the restaurant business revolves around the key principle of flexibility, be it for the servers, the managers, or the guests. As a result, staffing needs tend to change from day to day, week to week, or month to month; be it for scheduling time off or for meeting the demands of an increased customer load over a busy holiday. That said there are substantial benefits to a set staff schedule.
What are the benefits of a set schedule?
The first such benefit is customer rapport, particularly with regular or recurring customers. Guests to your restaurant want to have great service, and they want to like their server. In the cases where rapport is built between a server and guest, you create the opportunity for a business relationship that is rewarding for both your business and your guest.
Is there really anything more valuable in this business than a customer who knows your wait staff by name, or a customer who is in turn recognized by your staff? There should be as few obstacles as possible in building customer rapport, and having a varying or fluctuating schedule makes it harder for regulars to make that connection.
Likewise, a set schedule better prepares servers for their shift. Someone who works days every weekend knows what weekend lunch rush is like. Servers with a set schedule fall into a routine or pattern that makes them more efficient in their shift duties. Having a set schedule encourages employees to familiarize themselves with the duties and priority of said duties on a given shift, which is a win for your business.
On top of building customer rapport, having a set schedule saves you, the manager, countless hours. Sure, there will be times when changes to the schedule must be made for holidays, vacations, or the like, but having a mostly non-changing schedule will save you time.
Are they right for you?
As if all of that wasn’t enough, a set schedule rewards your employees. It gives them certainty in their life, and allows them to more easily facilitate their life around their work schedule, which in turn makes them able to be more happy and productive. Further, a set schedule is a way of tacitly rewarding hard-workers and subtly under-performers. Giving more rewarding or profitable shifts to servers who continually go above and beyond is a great way to both pat someone on the back and give a soft warning to those who may be struggling to do their duties.
With all of this in mind, I would encourage you to give a set server schedule a try in your business. It may not necessarily be the best fit for every restaurant, but the benefits of such a schedule are definitely worth considering. Happy servers make happy customers, after all!