Introduction

When looking for software to introduce to your restaurant business, you should be looking for 2 key factors:

  1. Restaurant focused
  2. Ease of use

First and foremost, you should be looking for software that fits you – not software that you fit. Companies like ADP or Ceridian, are great for offices or corporate environments, but they don’t work well with the dynamic conditions of the restaurant industry. You should be looking for tools that speed up your day-to-day operations and bring value to your long term business goals.

Introducing technology into your workflow should make things easier for you, not harder. It’s crucial to find software that’s easy to use, and easy to understand. Great software is only as good as its user. If you find that you’re struggling to learn a system that you’ve had for 6 months, it’s likely that you’re not getting the most of it.

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Understanding the Value of Reports

When we think about the success of a restaurant business or any business for that matter, the first thought that usually comes to mind is profit. Profit is the amount of financial gain when we subtract our expenses from our sales.

That sounds simple enough right? You just need to make more sales than you spend. But wait! How are you going to accurately calculate the labor and cost of sales involved in your business? Especially in the restaurant industry.

You have enough on your plate: menu items, food preparation, maintaining inventory, scheduling, etc. The last thing you want to do is spend time crunching numbers during your quick breaks. This is where restaurant software comes in.

Not just any software, but one that is specially designed for restaurant and hospitality sectors. Having to do things in your head or with pen and paper is frustrating and takes up precious time.

Look for restaurant software that allow you to let go of the manual work and put your focus back into growing your business rather than doing calculations. It’s crucial to look for software that automatically generates real time reports for you.

Reports should generate, sort and filter your data in different ways that are meaningful to you and your business; such as by departments or by positions.

You should be able to get into the habit of reviewing your labor costs week to week, or day to day. Tracking your labor costs is a great way to properly budget your hours.

The cost of scheduling a seasoned manager is a bit different than scheduling a training hostess. Understanding where your costs are going, and having easy access to data, is the starting point to building a foundation of practices for optimizing your sales and keeping track of labor costs.

It’s much easier down the road to make calculations when all the data is right there in front of you – when you need it!

If you know your numbers, you’ll know your business. Depending on your workforce management provider, your reports can tell you anything from labor cost vs your real time sales, to the behavior of daily employee clock entries.

Understanding your reports and ultimately your business’ behavior, will allow you to accurately forecast labor costs, schedule staff accordingly, and make better decisions to improve your business.

And getting there should be easy; generating reports should be a breeze. The reports that are provided with your restaurant management software should be more than just employee lists, or total gross pay of employees. Your software provider should also be giving reports that are tailored for the restaurant management – like labor cost and sales reports, statutory holiday eligibility reports, etc.

 

Reports to Look Out For

 

  1. Labor Cost are invaluable to your management team – they show you the exact percentage being spent on labor compared to your sales, in real time.
  2. Sales Reports help your management team figure out your busiest times, when certain items sell best and what to keep on your menu. They can also tell you what server is doing the best at up-selling promotional items or specials.
  3. Holiday Pay helps you remove the need for manual calculations. Some payroll providers (like Push Operations) calculate holiday pay automatically based on your business rules and the required employee labor laws.
  4. Overtime Calculation reports watch when employees are getting too close to overtime pay or calculates how much overtime they have accrued. Some payroll providers have warnings in place that can let you know before certain employee or group thresholds have been met. Payroll providers can also automate payroll pay to be compliant with labor laws and business rules.
  5. Sales vs. Labor forecast the expected future sales with required labor to know days or times you can schedule less, more or add something to improve the sales per hour or sales or square foot of your business.
  6. Employee Waste Management introduces a new cost savings element into your system. Many applications allow you to view what areas of the business are producing the most waste using inventory control and sales metrics, understand if your portions are too large or if your kitchen is hitting a snag when getting orders out.

 

If you’re using a point-of-sale (POS) system, look for software that has the ability to integrate with your POS system. This will eliminate the manual processes of data entry – the integration should be able to automatically grab and input sales numbers into its system and generate reports quickly.


Automate the Payroll Process

Payroll is easily one of the biggest headaches of every restaurant business owner. Manual data transfers, statutory holiday calculations, along with multiple positions and pay rates are basic examples of tedious tasks of payroll.

Any restaurant payroll software that you are looking to start, should automate this process.

By investing in software that automates payroll process, payroll admins can spend their time on more important tasks and managers can spend more time on the floor.

The cost savings will add up significantly. A typical restaurant who has to manually transfer clock-in/out hours from paper or their POS to their payroll system, can spend on average 5 minutes per employee, per payroll run.

If you’re running a 100 employee establishment with a 26 pay-period frequency, this can cost you $4,333.00 annually, in related payroll administrative costs (100 employees x 26 pay run x 5 minutes x $20/hourly rate).

By investing in the right kind of restaurant payroll software, you can reduce the amount of time spent on the burden of administrative tasks and increase productivity.

Human errors are inevitable when manually calculating hours to payroll. Almost always, mistakes happen whether you’re doing manual transfers of employee hours from your POS system, or via pen and paper. Again – restaurant payroll software should eliminate these errors by automating the process.

Payroll errors can cost you thousands of dollars.  Employees will only complain about payroll mistakes if they are underpaid – which leaves the company susceptible to overpaying employees for payroll errors.

If your payroll is $500,000 annually, a 2% error factor equates to $10,000 in costs.

But remember – software is only as good as its user. Ensure that you get the proper customer support and training when implementing new restaurant payroll software. Payroll is a sensitive matter and the provider that you invest in, should have your best interests in mind.


Smart Scheduling

Every restaurant across the country has the same major concern: labor cost. It’s expensive, problematic, and always in flux.

Successful business owners know that the money they make day in and day out, is ultimately invested back into their business, particularly through their workforce. Achieving the perfect labor cost is a combination of different factors.

 

  1. Intuitive scheduling
  2. Accurate time attendance

 

Scheduling is one of the biggest headaches for restaurant owners and managers. Creating schedules sounds simple and straightforward, but with a large amount of staff it can take hours.



This is due to one of three things (sometimes even all three):

 

  1. Employees have more than one position at multiple rates.
  2. There are different availabilities for every employee.
  3. Employees are always swapping shifts and requesting time off last minute

 

And if you’re doing all of the above using pen and paper or excel spreadsheets…the process isn’t intuitive and they take centuries to mock up and adjust.

Scheduling is made easier when using a system tailor made to work best for your business.

Schedules are never set in stone when they’re released, especially in the restaurant industry. Managers should be able to make real time adjustments whenever employees need to swap shifts or request time off.

Viewing your labor costs on the same screen while actively scheduling is also a huge bonus. Some restaurant scheduling software providers even have the ability to calculate your real time forecasted labor, to help make sure you’re not going over budgeted hours.

Having scheduling software that’s visually appealing makes it easier to make sure all the available shifts are accounted for. And, you’ll be able to see on one clear screen if employees are accidentally scheduled for dreaded “clopening” shifts (back to back close and opening shifts). It can be frustrating and tiring for staff, consequently affect guest experience.

Spreadsheets don’t tell you when you’ve missed filling in a shift, and paper copies of availability forms are prone to go missing. A simple and easy to use, online scheduling system should help you plan your schedule in a flash.

Scheduling software should significantly cut your time spent doing administrative work. You should be able to spend more time making valuable interactions with your customers and employees. Your time can be better spent on growing your business, rather than just maintaining it!

Hand in hand with scheduling, is time attendance. Time theft, along with buddy punching, is one of the biggest unintentional costs of your business. The American Payroll Association found that 43% of hourly workers exaggerated their time worked during a shift. Arriving late but clocking in as on time, or buddy punching, are a few examples of time theft.

And time theft can add up to thousands of dollars annually.



For example:

 

  • An hourly employee ($10/hr) racks up 1 hour of unauthorized time per week.
  • That single employee is costing you $520 per year ($10 for 1 unauthorized hour x 52 weeks = $520/year of excess labor cost).
  • On a 100 employee establishment, that can cost up to $50,000 annually.

 

Mistakes are made less when time attendance software is used to track employee hours. Whether it’s via a clock-in tablet, or application time tracking software is meant to be a more accurate alternative to pen and paper methods or stiff corporate methods.

Restaurant time attendance should be flexible for your business – it should support overtime tracking, multi-position employees, and spilt shift capabilities.

Scheduling and payroll software integration is also a huge plus – this’ll automate your payroll and labor cost compiling process. Data will guarantee to be accurate with the elimination of manual transfers. This way, you’ll save plenty of time, and there won’t be any discrepancies between employee hours and employee pay!

 

Make work easy for you, and for your employees

When looking for restaurant management software, it needs to work for you, and your employees. Restaurant employees are one of the hardest employees to retain in the industry. Restaurant software should help ease and control the disruptiveness of employee management in the industry.

First and foremost you need something that eliminates the confusion surrounding time off requests and shift swaps.

This can be made easy with cloud based restaurant scheduling software – where staff are able to receive notifications for schedule changes, request time off, swap, and release shifts right from their phone or computer

This makes schedules accessible anywhere, and anytime. Cloud based scheduling software will allow your staff to get notified instantly when their schedules change. There’ll be no more phone calls during rush hour with schedule inquiries!

They should also be able to request time off from a mobile app or computer. This will streamline your approval process when you’re able to see all your requests in one place; eliminating paper requests entirely! And most importantly, you and your managers aren’t blindly approving time off.

In addition to shift swaps and releases being easy for employees to request, restaurant scheduling software providers should support some kind of analysis tool for the approval process. For example: if an employee is swapping a shift with another employee who has already reached their overtime threshold, you should be able to view this before approving or rejecting a swap.

Your desk will probably lose some color with the lack of sticky notes from staff time off requests but your time spent of schedule adjustments will drastically decrease.

On your employees’ part, they won’t have to chase you down to know if you received their time off request, and you won’t have to individually message each employee when their schedule changes.

A message center is also crucial. Text messages and Facebook messages are awesome messaging tools – but they’re unprofessional and important messages can be lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

By allowing staff and management to communicate on a single work related platform, day off requests and schedule changes are made more consistent and easy. No more phone calls during rush hours, forgotten conversations, and lost or crumpled written requests!

Staff are also more likely to communicate with one another, and covering shifts will be easier accessible and more stress-free. Broadcasting messages to staff makes communication simple and schedules are easier to create, even with a constant flow of requests. Making work easy for you and your employees will also likely reduce your employee turnover rate!


The Bottom Line

You’ve probably heard it a million times, but if you’re not growing, you’re decaying.

 

Things that you should not be doing with restaurant software are:

 

  • Manual data transfers to generate reports and run payroll
  • Manual calculations for payroll or reports
  • Blindly scheduling employees

 

Restaurant management software should work to streamline all major aspects of labor into a single, robust platform. It should be tailored to your individual business and your needs.

Opening a business is hard enough – software that is meant to make it easy to maintain your business shouldn’t stand in the way of expanding your business.

Meaningful reports, smart scheduling, and automated payroll are great tools to give a better pulse on your business. After all, transparency is always the goal when running a business.


Disclaimer:

This document is provided by Push Technologies Inc. (“Push Operations”) for information purposes only. This is not an official or legal document and should not be taken as legal advice. Push Operations does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please check with the proper governing authority.