Selecting the right server for the right shift is an opportunity for greater profit.
Choosing servers for shifts is a dreaded operational task for most restaurant managers. Spending precious time in the back office figuring out who to schedule when and where isn’t likely on anyone’s list of favorite things to do. Sure, there are a lot of software applications available on the market that help with the logistics of building schedules by logging employees’ available days/times and applying rules-based logic to fill the open shifts with available servers. And if you don’t mind missing out on higher sales and just want to fill in the blanks, traditional scheduling software will suffice. But when done correctly, scheduling isn’t a mundane task. It’s a big opportunity to generate more revenue.
Considering the potential revenue each server can bring into your restaurant should be at the forefront of your scheduling process.
The key to scheduling for greater profit is putting the right server on the right shift. The problem is that many operators think they know who the right servers are, but for all the wrong reasons. Without detailed performance data on each server, operators are more likely to be influenced by a server’s:
- Social standing
Those qualities matter in terms of who to hire, nurture, and reward. But they don’t actually indicate top performers in quantifiable terms. If you dole out shifts according to your gut, those factors are likely to sway your decision, even on a subconscious level. When you leave staffing decisions up to gut feelings, social hierarchies, and seniority, you’re not doing yourself or your restaurant any favors.
That doesn’t mean you can’t effectively leverage high-value shifts as a reward. Just make sure you’re using useful data to pinpoint the behaviors that are truly worth rewarding. It’s great that Susan is a long-time hard-working employee and you should reward her, but there’s probably a lot more cost-effective way than by giving away your big money shifts if she’s not a top performer.
Accurately spotting top performers
To truly understand the specific strengths and weaknesses of every team member, you need data. Not just the end of shift report the POS can spit out that lists the server’s gross sales. That’s a place to start. But it won’t tell you the true story about what’s going on with your service team.
Do you know who sold the most over the course of the week? The month? The year? Do those numbers account for the number of shifts each server worked in a comparable time frame? The number of covers per shift? Their table turn time? Do you know who’s the best at selling signature dishes or category items, like appetizers and desserts? Can you quickly see what a server’s average tip percentage is compared to their co-workers? Who’s making the most of a shoddy section?
If you’re a statistical anomaly with a strong desire to improve your service team, you might be tracking some of those data points manually in a spreadsheet, gleaned from the six-foot-long print out report from your POS. Chances are, you’re not. And who could blame you? Most operators don’t have that kind of time.
A little insight goes a long way
Imagine that you have three reliable servers, Annie, Rashena, and Nate, who all seem to have happy customers most of the time. On any given day, their sales generally reflect the day’s totals, falling anywhere between first and third in server sales out of a team of six. Glancing at their shift totals and making a mental note might be the extent of your investigation. And your gut will tell you that you’ll do fine as long as you have at least one of them on the floor at any given time. But if you want to do your best, you have some more digging to do.
With a deeper dive into more granular data, you would notice that today, Rashena was your swing server so she worked fewer hours than Nate and Annie. And though Nate ended the shift with higher sales than Rashena, his per person average was actually lower than hers. Annie’s sales were highest overall, even though Nate had more covers.
So what are Annie and Rashena doing that enables them to have higher sales with fewer customers? What is Nate doing differently that results in lower per person averages? There are important answers to these questions that you can easily see when you have the right data on hand.
To go even deeper, you may want to look at the servers’ performance at the item level. With roughly the same number of days on evening shifts this month, you can see that Annie leads the pack in wine sales. By a lot. Nate does well selling your high-dollar protein items like the ribeye and filet but rarely sells appetizers.
With that insight, you may decide to make sure that Annie works in a high-traffic section on pasta night since she excels at selling wine, and wine sells at a higher rate on pasta night overall. And if you put Rashena on Nate’s regular balcony brunch shift where there’s high traffic, but not a lot of high dollar protein sales, you can give him a Friday night shift in the bar/lounge area instead and coach him on suggesting appetizers.
With just these few simple tweaks, you could significantly increase your revenue. Especially if getting a clear picture of your service team took you less time than you spend stocking paper towels in the bathrooms.
Pro Tip: Take it a step farther by asking Annie to mentor Rashena on wine sales and you’ll really boost your time to reward ratio.
Effortless data means effortless staffing
Take the politics out of management. With hard numbers to back you up, you don’t have to worry about being perceived as unfair or having favorites when someone is upset about their schedule. You can have hard conversations about a server’s performance with more objectivity and clear recommendations for improvement.
When you’re able to give your staff valuable feedback on the precise opportunities they’re missing and demonstrate that you reward top performers on a truly level playing field, the conversations will be easier to have. You can’t really argue with or hold a grudge against data.
And the data can be used to show your staff the gap between their actual tips and their tip potential as well. If Rashena isn’t particularly moved by the fact that Annie outsells her in wine three to one, she might care more when she sees the correlation in her tips. Getting fewer tips by three to one is likely to have a personal impact on Rashena that motivates her more powerfully than simply attending a wine training. And when she improves, you’ll both appreciate the increased revenue.
Unlock your service team data
Your POS system already receives the data you need to make better, more profitable schedules. Every time a server rings in a ticket, they’re submitting data about their performance. You just have to capture it with the Avero Service Team module.
Avero Service Team helps you focus on the right qualities when evaluating your waitstaff and serves up specific opportunities for improvement. With ready access to the right data it’s easy to make small, but impactful changes that can significantly increase every server’s average ticket.
Avero’s solutions are designed for hospitality operators, by hospitality operators. Avero turns raw POS data into actionable business insights to help you make smart decisions and streamline communications across your team.