Keeping Your Labor Costs Down

It’s expensive to run a restaurant, and this isn’t news to any restauranteur

laborcost-300x291At the 2013 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show, I attended a session on controlling labor costs, and walked away feeling two things. In this economic climate, this is such a critical issue for restaurateurs, and those who have measures in place today are positioned to not only survive, but thrive in an economy where this cost is rising.

The speaker of the session’s main point was that planning – mainly scheduling – was key to controlling these costs, and I agree with that.

Scheduling is important, but what’s more important is the ability to forecast. Having the ability to predict when busiest shifts are, when overtime is needed, when you’re less likely to need a full staff is necessary information. When you schedule according to your situation, you pay for what you need, and don’t waste dollars on employees you don’t.

It sounds basic, but where do you tap into that data? NCR does it through Aloha in two primary ways.

Real-Time is one solution that enables forecasting. This product has an immediate impact on the business, because it allows you to see into your operations immediately. It shows you how you’re doing in real-time, and when it’s time to create employee schedules, it predicts the resources you need according to your own data.

Then, we have Restaurant Guard. At its heart, Restaurant Guard is a performance measurement tool. It leverages artificial intelligence to determine what’s normal, and you receive data on who your most productive employees are, so you can slot them in the appropriate shifts. It also guards to protect against human error or theft, such as an employee clocking in under the costlier of two job codes – an easy way for labor costs to increase.

Through these two solutions tied to your POS, you prevent your employees from gaming the system.

And isn’t this what it’s all about? The ability to set processes and controls so you don’t have to perform these manually? Humans make mistakes, technology is more consistent and accurate.

So, while I agree that scheduling is an important component of controlling labor, take it a step further. Know your operations so you can manage to them. Gather your data, and make informed decisions so you don’t lose revenue.  At the end of the day, plan for the rising labor costs and don’t spend any more than you already have to.

Written by: Mark Buonagurio, Sales Director, NCR Local – Tri-State Area at NCR Corporation