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Our Guide to Perfect Staff Levels

Posted by - Last updated: Monday January 09th 2017

In any hospitality business, having the right number of people working, both on any given shift, and in terms of total team size, is important to ensuring great service levels, constant brisk trade, and more money in the till.

We’ve all been to pubs and restaurants where there simply aren’t enough people working. The staff look stressed and overwhelmed, and are simply too busy to deliver the service we’d like. The atmosphere may turn frosty, as customers resent long waits at the bar or their tables, and ultimately many give up and go elsewhere, costing hundreds in lost sales.

Yet the converse problem can be just as bad. Numerous studies have found that the slowest service occurs in restaurants not when they are busiest, but quietest. With few customers compared to staff, team members feel no need to hurry, and allow lethargy to take over, chatting or standing idly.

right-size

Right-size your team to keep staff and customers smiling

It’s easy to tell when a hospitality business has the right number of staff working. The team seems attentive and focused, lines at the bar are dealt with quickly, customers feel well-looked after, and there’s a general buzz about the place that screams “well-run, thriving business.” This is a message that is sure to keep the punters coming back for more. The challenge for managers is to write a rota that promotes these conditions time and again.

S4Labour is the perfect tool to help them. By considering projected and historic sales figures, the distribution of sales by hour throughout the day, and industry-tested metrics for sales driven per labour hour both on the front and back of house, the system guides managers as they aim to write the best possible rota. Times when staff are harried and rushed (stress), and left standing with little to do (slack), are minimised, meaning wages are seldom wasted and sales opportunities are rarely missed.

Then there’s the wider consideration: how many employees should a site have? All in hospitality motivated workforce with a keen appetite for the job and the energy to do it well.

An effective way to manage staffing levels on a weekly basis can be to look to give hourly staff around 70% of the hours they would ideally seek to work, typically corresponding to their low-end expectation of what a work week should be. This should be enough to keep team members satisfied, as well as controlling costs, and crucially leaves the flexibility to rota on additional hours when you know you are going to be busy. An employee who doesn’t feel like they’re already working at their capacity is going to much happier and better motivated when you ask them to pick up that extra shift when you’ve got a wedding party on.

An often-overlooked but important factor in optimising staffing levels is the full-time and part-time balance in the team. Most hospitality business peak heavily on weekends. If your team is comprised entirely of full-timers, you are likely to find that after the weekend rush is over, you are left with staff hungry and expectant for shifts, but no shifts to give them without breaking your labour budget. A staff-force composed predominantly of part-timers, who only want to work a couple of shifts a week, can give you valuable flexibility in your rota. Particularly in businesses that trade hard on the weekends and are quiet through the week, this is a great way to control labour costs and keep employees happy.

We work in a people businesses, and right-sizing your team is a great way to keep customers coming through the door and leaving with smiles on their faces.

Featured image by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

Alec Vještica

A hospitality professional who combines an analytical mind with energy and frontline experience in his approach, Alec worked in managed houses for companies including Greene King and Samuel Smith's before joining Catton in 2016. He is passionate about the industry and always enjoys meeting operators across all sectors.

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