Few business segments are struggling to adapt to rising labor costs like restaurants. Even in markets where the legal minimum wage is $8 per hour, workers and elected officials are rallying to nearly double that standard to $15 per hour. Yet while that’s an extreme example of the changes afoot in the national labor market, even modest wage increases can have a profound impact on an operation’s profitability. Monitoring labor costs is more crucial than ever, but thankfully, back-office systems can automate and help lower labor costs. Here are four ways successful restaurants use these tools to optimize their labor costs.
1. Time and Attendance are Verified and Accurate.
Employees punching in for their late-arriving friends—a.k.a “Buddy clocking”—disappears when using a biometric (fingerprint) device to identify employees on premise. No more paying for employees who show up late or stay beyond their scheduled time. A digital system also ensures employee hours are recorded accurately. Not so long ago, managers added up employee timecards manually, creating opportunities for discrepancies. With a digital system like SynergySuite, time on the job working is tracked automatically and accurately to the second. Same for taking mandated breaks: Each time hourly staffers take a breather, that time is not only deducted automatically from their shift totals, it’s documented permanently.
2. Predictive Scheduling Is Simplified.
Understaffing and overstaffing are equally damaging to profits. Guests who wait too long for service endure a bad experience and don’t return, and having too many employees on hand for sales demand swells labor costs. A back-office system equipped with a predictive scheduling feature can almost eliminate staffing guesswork. These systems can tap into historical sales data from the POS and suggest staff scheduling based on forecasted sales. No more forgetting to staff up for special events or staff leanly when sales are historically slow.
3. Overtime Alerts Reduce Overages.
Amid a busy shift, it’s nearly impossible to know which hourly staffers are approaching overtime. That challenge only increases for multi-unit operators. But with a back-office system tracking each staffer’s time on the clock, unnecessary overtime can be reduced and even eliminated with automated alerts. Properly programmed, a back-office system will send managers and owners real-time alerts with a text-message or push-notification, signaling specific employees are approaching overtime, greatly simplifying the decision to keep or cut staff. Receiving these through a cloud-based, back-office system also allows multi-unit area managers and owners to focus on labor problems at specific units and manage them remotely.
4. Sales-per-Labor-Hour Metric Turns Details into Dollars.
Even when dining rooms are full, patrons may be lingering and not be spending. This is another time when managers can struggle to decide whether to cut staff. Applying this to a sales-per-labor-hour metric gives clear details on whether the labor on hand is too much for the number of customers being served. A back-office system can track this information in real time, allowing managers to cut staff if too slow, or call in reinforcements if the pace of business becomes overwhelming. Multi-unit operators can monitor each manager’s labor allocation at all units and spot potential labor cost issues before they occur.
Using cloud-based, back-office technology to manage costs tightly virtually ensures profitability, even when sales are down. By verifying time and attendance, using predictive scheduling tools, responding to overtime alerts and applying the sales-per-labor-hour metric, operators avoid excessive labor costs and put more of their hard-earned money in the bank.