The better you are at staff scheduling, the better it is for your business. You can save money, better allocate your resources, and improve the dining experience for your customers. 

Sounds great, right? It is — but effective scheduling isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle.  

You’re managing different people’s availability, trying to follow local regulations, and making sure that you have enough staff working during busy periods. It’s a lot to handle. 

Fortunately, demand-based scheduling can relieve some of the strain and help you create an effective restaurant rota

Keep reading to find out: 

  • What demand-based scheduling is
  • How a demand-based schedule works
  • How to use a demand-based schedule to improve your scheduling and increase your profit margins

What is a demand-based schedule in hospitality? 

A demand-based schedule is an employee rota that’s (big surprise) based on demand. It helps you plan restaurant shifts according to peak times. This means you can make sure you have the right people working at the right time — which can save you money and protect your profitability. It’s a win-win!

Plus, it can help you avoid overstaffing, which keeps your profit margins in check. Think about it — if you know you have a quiet week ahead, you can minimise restaurant staff numbers to maintain healthy profits. 

Two people wearing aprons in an ice cream shop

All of this helps you run an efficient operation, and provides diners with a better experience (we probably don’t have to tell you why that’s good for business). 

How to schedule restaurant staff with demand-based scheduling

Let’s walk through the steps of demand-based scheduling.

Review historical data

First, you take a look back at your performance data to identify peak times and slow days at your restaurant. This is the baseline for your schedule, so keep an eye out for any trends that’ll inform your future scheduling. 

For instance, if your data shows an uptick in customers during local sports events, this is a key trend that should inform your future scheduling. Additionally, examine your busiest hours — not just the days. This can help in breaking down shifts more effectively and in aligning staff strength with busy hours, ensuring optimum service without overstaffing.

Identify staffing needs

Now, you can allocate the right number of staff to different shifts based on trends from your historical data. If you typically have more customers on a Saturday night, you might increase the number of waiting staff. Perhaps you need more kitchen staff or bartenders for quick service on busy evenings, or an extra host during lunch hours on weekends. Also, consider the skills and experience of your staff.

Having a mix of experienced and newer staff during peak times can ensure operational efficiency while nurturing a learning environment.

Pro tip 💡 It helps to ask yourself the following question: Who do I need at different times of the day to meet the demand I’m expecting?

Consider logistics (and other factors)

To create a solid schedule, there are some other aspects to consider. Employee working preferences, staff availability, skill sets, local working regulations, visa restrictions — the list goes on. You have to incorporate these elements into your schedule for it to be successful. 

Respecting employee work-life balance by considering their preferred shifts or limitations not only aids in compliance but also boosts morale and reduces staff turnover. Understand the nuances of local labour laws, break times, overtime regulations, and even visa restrictions for international staff. This attention to detail ensures that your scheduling is not only efficient but also ethical and legal.

Balancing these aspects with business needs might seem daunting. This is where technology can play a pivotal role.

The answer? 

Restaurant scheduling software.

Employee scheduling software for restaurants makes your life easier. It helps you organise  shifts, track employee availability, and ensure your restaurant is following local employment guidelines.

Want to know more about it? Keep reading – we’re about to dive into the top features. 

What is the best restaurant scheduling software? 

The best restaurant scheduling app for your business depends on what you’re looking for. To help you figure it out, here are some features we suggest looking out for: 

  • Artificial intelligence. An AI-powered platform (like us at Nory – hi 👋) can save you time and provide you with valuable insights. Our AI features, for example, allow you to automatically schedule shifts based on predicted demand.
  • Real-time insights. Without real-time insights, you could miss valuable information that impacts the efficiency of your schedule. But with access to accurate and up-to-date information, you can make informed and effective scheduling decisions.
  • Workforce management. Centralising your entire HR operations into one platform makes life much easier for you. You spend less time flicking between software, and can easily access all the information you need to onboard, engage, and reward your staff. 

FAQs for Demand-Based Scheduling in Restaurants

What exactly is demand-based scheduling?

Demand-based scheduling is a method of creating staff rotas based on predicted customer traffic in a restaurant. It uses historical data to forecast busy times and quieter periods, allowing you to allocate staff efficiently, save costs, and optimise the dining experience.

How does reviewing historical data help in scheduling?

Historical data provides insights into your restaurant’s busiest times and slower periods. Analysing this data helps you understand customer patterns, including seasonal variations and the impact of local events, allowing you to tailor your staff scheduling to match expected demand.

What should I consider when identifying staffing needs?

When identifying staffing needs, consider not just the number of staff, but also the mix of roles and experience levels. Factor in the specific demands of different shifts (like more bartenders during busy evenings) and align these with customer expectations for service quality.

How important are employee preferences and legal factors in demand-based scheduling?

Very important. Respecting employee work preferences, such as their desired shifts or work-hour limitations, can boost morale and reduce turnover. Additionally, being compliant with local working regulations, break times, and visa restrictions is crucial to ensure ethical and legal scheduling practices.

Can technology simplify the scheduling process?

Yes, restaurant scheduling software can significantly simplify the scheduling process. Features like shift swapping, compliance checks, and predictive analytics based on historical data can streamline operations, reduce errors, and adjust schedules dynamically to unforeseen changes.

What are the benefits of using restaurant scheduling software like Nory?

Using software like Nory offers numerous benefits, including time savings, data-driven scheduling decisions, compliance with local labour laws, and the ability to quickly adapt to unexpected staff or customer volume changes. It also improves overall operational efficiency and staff satisfaction.

Does demand-based scheduling also consider the skill sets of employees?

Yes, it does. Understanding the specific skill sets and experience levels of your staff is vital in assigning them to shifts where their strengths can best meet the restaurant’s operational needs and enhance customer service.

Is demand-based scheduling suitable for all types of restaurants?

Demand-based scheduling can be adapted to most restaurant types, from quick-service to fine dining. However, the specific implementation may vary based on the size, customer flow, and style of the restaurant.

What is the main challenge in demand-based scheduling?

The main challenge is balancing multiple factors – including customer demand patterns, staff availability and preferences, and legal requirements – to create a schedule that optimises both service quality and profitability.

Use Nory to manage your restaurant schedule

To successfully manage your workforce and take future demand into account, use an AI-powered platform like Nory. We’ll help you forecast sales, predict demand, and schedule your workforce as efficiently as possible.

Schedule a call to find out more!