Your comprehensive guide for starting a restaurant

Determining Your Staffing Needs

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Restaurant owners rely heavily on their staff to carry out the day to day operations of their restaurant. Retaining employees is often a challenge because of the high turnover rate in the restaurant industry. Most new restaurant owners don’t know how many people they need to hire to execute their concept well. You need to have the right number of employees at the right times doing the right tasks. There are so many things to keep track of, so the hiring and training process can be overwhelming.

The first step to hiring employees for your new restaurant is to determine what your staffing needs are. The following guide will walk you through the various steps to successfully plan your hiring needs.

First, think about what positions you need to fill during every hour that your restaurant is open. Project when your busiest days and times are. For each peak period in your timeline, make a list of all the positions that you need to provide adequate service, hospitality, quality, cleanliness and accuracy. Your list might look like the following example:

Peak Time – Saturday 5pm to 8pm

Staff Needed – 1 chef, 2 line cooks, 2 bartenders, 1 hostess, 8 servers, 1 busboy, and so forth.

Make a similar list for all your busy hours for the entire week. If you are not sure how many people you need, take a guess or ask other restaurant professionals for a range. You can always modify this number later.

You may want to consider using an approach called stair-stepping to provide a smooth transition between different shifts. Stair-stepping is using intervals to bring people into and out of the shift. For example, you can have the first server arrive at 9:30 am, the second at 10:00 am and the third at 10:30 am. Stair-stepping is an effective strategy for improving productivity and labor cost. It also allows for a much smoother transition between different shifts.

Once you figure out how many people you need for each critical period, you need to determine which positions are most important for your particular type of restaurant. For a fast-food restaurant, the most important positions might be the cashier and drive-thru staff. For a fine-dining restaurant, the chef is the most important position. You may also designate a manager for each role, such as dining room manager, bar manager and kitchen manager. Fill the most important positions first and provide the leadership training to make sure these employees can execute your concept well on opening day.

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