The Value of Online Scheduling

The Value of Online Scheduling

Many restaurant managers are adopting online scheduling tools such as those offered by HotSchedules or ScheduleFly. These are effective, time-saving tools that essentially provide a schedule template and communications channel that reaches the computers and mobile apps of employees. The benefits of this type of scheduling software are obvious and adaptable to most settings. They help managers by:

Saving valuable time
Being easy and quick to use
Permanently eliminating the calls from employees about schedules
Facilitating quick communication to employees
Helping to create a paperless environment

Given the value of a time-saving, relatively inexpensive communication device that quickly reaches employees, it can be surprising that more restaurants haven’t adopted this type of tool. That is, until you realize that restaurant managers can be creatures of habit. After all, why fix something if it isn’t broken?

The answer is that it can be done better, and in a way that eliminates the weekly struggle of plugging in schedules, endless scraps of paper, and request books filled with scribbled notes from employees. If you manage a medium- to large-sized restaurant and dread the task of scheduling employees on a weekly basis, it’s worthwhile to consider a paperless alternative.


Most restaurant managers recognize the value of speedy, effective communication with employees. An online schedule provides this by reaching employees in an attention-grabbing manner. Most employees have smartphones by now, and most of them keep their phones on or near them constantly.

An online schedule app announces the schedule when it’s posted and allows managers to blast immediate updates to the entire staff. This can be valuable when changes happen, such as when a manager needs to add employees for a busy upcoming shift. A schedule app lets a manager text a message that will be blasted to every employee. This alleviates calling employees one at a time.

At the same time, an online schedule can be set to allow employees to communicate requests, propose schedule changes, or trade shifts with other employees. Requests can be entered into future weekly templates, which can be used by managers. This means managers no long have to sift through requests and add them to an Excel or paper schedule template.

Forecasting Labor Costs

Some managers have taken to using a schedule app to tally up labor costs in advance of a given evening. The benefits of doing so are apparent, though this might not be valuable in every environment. Nonetheless, labor forecasting is often executed more by feel than math, and a tool that adds up anticipated costs can help guide scheduling.

This is especially true in high-volume environments, and in restaurants that experience turnover at the manager position. If your scheduling manager is relatively new or needs some guidance, a labor forecast can be a great tool for monitoring costs and placing a ceiling on scheduled employees.

POS Integration

Integrating a schedule with the POS allows a manager to monitor accumulated hours, receive overtime alerts, and view and change the schedule at multiple terminals throughout the building. This is also a helpful tool for running sales contests, printing sales reports, and organizing schedule demands.

Message Wall

Employees who work for restaurants that have online schedule tools indicate that they appreciate the message wall, which allows them to post requests, connect with coworkers, and efficiently pick up or trade shifts. The message wall is something like an employee Facebook page. It tends to alleviate the stress that employees sometimes feel when juggling work with other priorities like school and a family.

Flexibility should be one of the benefits to part-time employees in most restaurants, and the message wall helps facilitate this. In the end, the benefits of online scheduling to everyone are too much to ignore.

And while managers are usually disinclined to fix anything that isn’t broken, the growth of new restaurants popping up and unstoppable progress of technology suggests that the day will come when most restaurants are using this type of tool.