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3 Tips for Creating Holiday Schedules for Your Restaurant

Follow these tips for smooth scheduling at your restaurant this holiday season.

Holidays and special events can wreak havoc on restaurant schedules. Managers must account for spikes in demand that can be unpredictable, and employees often request time off during the holidays. A smaller pool of available team members, paired with more customers coming through the door is a recipe for a scheduling dilemma.

Fortunately, restaurant scheduling software can help you stay in control of the scheduling process and make sure you are staffed to provide an exceptional guest experience. 


1. Tailor your forecast to the holiday or event 

Modern forecasting algorithms can accurately recommend how many people to staff during each shift, but the forecast may require some tweaks during the holidays. When scheduling for special events, users should be able to adjust the inputs and metrics of the forecast for greater precision.

In Crunchtime, managers can customize their labor forecast by selecting the date the holiday fell on in the previous year.

This is especially helpful when scheduling staff on holidays that fall on different days of the month each year like Mother’s Day. For example, if Mother's Day fell on May 14 last year and it is expected to fall on May 12 this year, the manager could specifically choose the data from May 14 to generate the forecast for this year’s holiday. If the forecast automatically pulls the same date from the year before, it may not align with this year’s holiday, leaving you with an inaccurate forecast.

A good sales forecast will factor in historical data from a number of different business drivers that include your restaurant’s historical data, guest counts, transactions, menu mix and more. The ability to customize your forecast can ensure that you stay prepared for events and other high-volume days.


2. Use blackout dates to manage time-off requests

Honoring time-off requests and giving your team flexibility around their schedules is a great way to keep employees satisfied at work. Unfortunately, the holiday season can bring a spike in demand that can complicate scheduling. It is inevitable that some team members will have to work.

Ensure smooth holiday scheduling by using blackout dates that restrict time-off requests. In Crunchtime Labor & Scheduling, the manager can set a maximum number of approved time-off requests before the date will become automatically blacked out. This helps ensure you have enough staff to meet demand during periods of peak volume.

When using blackout dates, make sure you encourage employees to submit their time off requests early. Communicating your schedule expectations early and often is key to keeping employees engaged throughout the holidays.


3. Be prepared for last minute schedule changes

Changes to the schedule are bound to happen. Whether a team member calls out sick, or you have a no-show — managers must be prepared to respond swiftly.

With a restaurant scheduling app, employees can post available shifts or pick up shifts when these last minute changes occur. This flexibility is empowering for employees and can even lead to the scheduling issue solving itself, no manager needed. Managers should regularly remind employees about the protocols for calling out sick and that posting shifts farther in advance is the best way to get a shift covered.

During a staffing pinch, efficient communication is key. A restaurant scheduling software that enables quick messages back and forth with team members can help get shifts filled faster. In the event that you are having an especially difficult time filling an open shift during the holidays, bonus pay can help incentivize team members to pick up shifts.

And don’t forget – be patient and appreciative to your hard working team this holiday! Last minute changes to the schedule can create more chaos around your restaurant operations. The manager plays a critical role in maintaining employee morale and recognizing your team’s hard work can go a long way during the holidays. 


Ready to learn more?

Request a demo to see how Crunchtime’s restaurant scheduling software can help you optimize every shift.

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