You’re a busy restaurant owner with a million things on your plate. You’re paying bills, planning marketing, keeping the bar and the kitchen stocked, talking to new suppliers, and scheduling the staff. Like many young restaurant owners, there’s a good chance you’re also doing shifts in the kitchen or at the bar to make sure your customers get the experience you dreamed of providing.

It may be time to delegate the schedule to the manager, but you’re worried about costly mistakes. Too few people and you lose money due to poor service. Too many and labor costs eat away at your margins.

What you need is a scheduling system that you can implement so you can give up scheduling duties without giving up control.

#1 A Schedule by Supervisor, Trainer, & Seniority – The key to a successful schedule is starting with your key people. Start with supervisor (or manager), then trainers, then according to seniority. 

#2 An Availability Schedule – There are two things your master schedule should have: when employees can work and how many shifts they want to work. Lay this out next to a blank schedule and you will instantly see any conflicts. It’s also important to know how many shifts someone wants to work. For example, a server might only want 2 shifts a week but be flexible about when those shifts happen. That’s a great resource for you.

#3 Public Time Off Request Logs – Your servers are more responsible than you might give them credit. Keep a calendar around (or make a public leave request calendar in a scheduling app like 7shifts) for staff to make time-off requests. If a server sees 3 other people have already requested a day off, they likely won’t ask. Keep in mind that they’re only requests – if one person is always the first to book off a long weekend, you don’t always have to go by first-come-first-serve.

#4 A No Clopening Policy – Restaurant staff dread “clopening,” when you’re scheduled to close the restaurant and open it the next morning. It’s bad enough having to do a double-header of shifts at a restaurant that closes around midnight or 1 a.m., it’s even worse at a bar or pub that’s open until last call and open in time for lunch. It means a guaranteed day of bleary eyes and exhaustion.

There are some serious negative side effects to clopening, including sleep deficiency, impaired judgement, mood shifts, and depression. All these factors will also negatively impact job performance. Clopening should never be a standard part of your schedule. If you can’t avoid it once in a while due to time off requests, make sure the employee knows the extra effort is appreciated and try to give them the next day off to recover.

#5 Employee Scheduling Software

Employee scheduling software makes it all make sense. An app like 7shifts, purpose-built for the restaurant industry, puts everything your manager needs in one place: team communications, leave requests, sales and labor cost data, and more. At the push of a button you can share the schedule with your entire staff and use group chat or direct messages to get last-minute openings covered.

If you’re getting ready to hand off the schedule, check out the latest employee scheduling software to make the process faster and easier.

#6 Create a Staffing Guide

Make sure your manager knows how many people you need in the front and back for every shift. That way they can easily make sure they have the correct number of people in.

With these tips in hand, you can feel confident that your manager can do the job. Give them the resources they need, and they can put together a schedule that works.