Restaurant Dining Room Service Improvement – Staff Scheduling Tips Part 2

Proper staff scheduling is extremely crucial for providing excellent restaurant dining room service. There are 2 basic concepts that can improve restaurant service immensely. In every way, a balance must be achieved by matching labor needs to the forecasted business.

The first concept is the “on call waiter” who can be scheduled for any shift necessary. The “on call waiter” function is to call the restaurant about 1/2 – 1 hr. before the work shift commences food service to see if he/she is needed to come in and work that particular shift.

The “on call” function is useful in many ways in the case of outdoor dining where business literally depends on the weather. If the weather is right for outdoor seating, the “on call waiter” will be asked to come in to work. If it’s raining, then the “on call waiter” will not be asked to report to work — though the phone call to the restaurant should still be made. Basically, if the staff is sufficient for that particular restaurant shift, then the “on call waiter” will not be needed.

Another useful function for the “on call waiter” is when there is an extremely important event scheduled. In this case, there can be absolutely no staff shortages for that event. Simply by communicating properly and timely over the telephone, the dining room will be covered completely saving the service staff time and the restaurant wasted payroll.

This system is flexible, and should be used with common sense, not haphazardly. Depending on the situation, there can even be more than one “on call waiter” for a shift. By the same token, you may not even use an “on call waiter” for many of the slower work shifts. Every restaurant must figure out what system works best for them, and make the adjustment.

The second restaurant service staff scheduling concept is the “maintenance runner” which works best when there is more than one food runner working per shift. Once again, this concept will prove how proper staff scheduling is directly tied to improving dining room service.

In a small restaurant, there may be only one food runner needed for the shift delivering food from the kitchen areas to the dining room areas. The runner is responsible for keeping those dining room areas and floor areas clean, since it is usually part of the sidework.

If this sidework doesn’t get done, it is obvious where the blame lies. (Technically it’s everyone’s job to keep the restaurant clean, but it ultimately should be the food runner’s job to keep the service/ kitchen areas, waiter food prep areas, and floor areas clean.)

Now, on the other hand, a large restaurant that uses 3 runners per shift is definitely transporting a higher volume of food from the kitchen areas to the dining areas. Therefore, things will get a bit messier because of the added food traffic. To compound the problem, with more than one runner, things will get confusing as to whose responsibility it is to keep the above restaurant areas clean.

The solution to this headache lies within the restaurant service staff scheduling. Simply place “maintenance runner” on a pre-designated schedule spot, and rotate fairly. For easy labeling on the schedule, a simple MR abbreviation next to the name or shift— and it’s good to go for each needed shift. The “maintenance runner” will ultimately be responsible for the sweep up and wipe-up jobs-especially before and after each shift. Cleanliness, especially floors, will also lessen the risk of bodily injury such as slippage from an unclean floor.

These simple dining room service scheduling concepts will help ensure that the restaurant is properly staffed and maintained with regards to safety and sanitary guidelines.