Restaurants Turn to Technology to Simplify Staff Scheduling
In many ways, the Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Ellary’s Greens in New York City, couldn’t be more different.
One of 110 stores located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, or Ohio, Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries prepares Southern comfort food, in a family-friendly atmosphere. Brett Rhye and his father are area developers for the Hwy 55 franchise, owning and operating the Charlotte restaurant and franchising an additional 12 in North Carolina.
Ellary’s Greens, an independent in New York’s Greenwich Village, is just coming up on its one-year anniversary. The cozy spot is known for its healthy gourmet fare, centered on natural and organic ingredients.
Both, however, shared a similar headache—managing staff schedules—and are employing the same technology solution, PrimePay’s ReadySetWork.
The employee scheduling software allows managers to electronically schedule employees, track hours, and fill open shifts. The tool imports the company’s current roster so managers can immediately build schedules based on availability, skill, and targeted labor costs, publishes them online, and pushes them out to staff via text message, email, and a mobile app.
Ellary’s Greens, a PrimePay customer, implemented ReadySetWork in July, around three months after it opened. “ReadySetWork is instrumental to us for scheduling,” owner Leith Hill comments.
“We have a staff of 35, some full-time and a lot of part-time workers,” she adds. “The back of the house is all career-focused, but the front-of-the house staff is all doing something else—they are actors, screenwriters, students. Our head manager was spending hours on the computer, trying to honor their requests for time off—for vacations, or auditions, or because they have to go to the doctor. The servers' view of the job is different as opposed to the chefs. They are doing this just to bide time until they get their real job.”
The software helps considerably when Ellary’s Greens’ looks to expand or contract restaurant hours. “If there is a Monday holiday, we will add an extra brunch for the day—in addition to our Saturday and Sunday brunch,” Hill explains. “With ReadySetWork, we can easily set up ‘what if’ scenarios: ‘What happens if we move Trinia, who normally works on Sunday night, to Monday brunch? What would the schedule look like?’“
Besides ensuring coverage, expanding restaurant hours also posted another challenge—making sure full-time staff hours didn’t exceed a 40-hour workweek, to avoiding paying overtime. That issue has disappeared, as the software keeps track of how many hours each server is working.
ReadySetWork, “is a game changer as far as scheduling goes,” Hill says.
Brett Rhye implemented ReadySetWork within a couple of weeks of opening the Charlotte Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, after watching the manager spend hours trying to make hay out of the schedule. “ Waitstaff would give him post-it-notes or tell him ‘I want this day off or I’m taking a vacation‘ and he would have to remember who wanted what.“
Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries corporate does have a scheduling program that is used aspart of the franchise system, explains Rhye, “but it’s a little time-consuming and it doesn’t communicate to the employees. They have to log on to look at their schedule.”
When Rhye opened the Hwy 55 in Charlotte, there were 30 employees to start, which has since been trimmed down to 20. Schedules, posted on a piece of paper hung in the back of the restaurant, often drew complaints from part-time staff who wanted more hours.
“We eliminated the whole issue with ReadySetWork,” says Rhye. “They get their schedule via a text message. Our employees’ average age is between 18-22—high school and college kids—and that is how they communicate anyway. But the other side of that is that it eliminated all the questions about who had more hours.”
The trimmed-down staff is more mature and experienced, so Rhye was able to change ReadySetWork’s settings to allow staff to see each other’s schedule. “This speaks to the software’s versatility,” says Rhye. “You can set it up either way. The current setting lets staff have more control, for last minute shift changes.”
Rhye’s operation also uses ReadySetWork for the kitchen staff. “The same positives transferred to the cooks,” he says. “Before, a lot of the cooks were having trouble figuring out when they had to work, so sending the schedule over their cell phone or via email lets them know exactly when they are scheduled.”
The software also allows the manager to post when open shifts are available, providing Rhye with unexpected information “We are able to see who is motivated to get more hours, to come into work more,” he notes. “We are able to see which cooks have the ambition to be part of the team and are committed to the business.”
By Joann Whitcher