5 Things to Look at If Your Labor Is Too High

Labor is not only one of a restaurant’s biggest expenses, but it’s also the most variable, and the one felt most immediately by guests; Cut staff too much to save on this expense, and service will suffer, but don’t watch it enough, or over-schedule for even a week, and your profit for the month can evaporate. Here are the first 5 areas I would look at if you think your labor is too high:

Check Clock-in/out Times vs. the Schedule

If you are scheduling employees to arrive at 8, and they are clocking in at 7:50, that’s 10 minutes that you didn’t budget for. Not much on a one-off basis, but if you have 5 employees who clock in early, making an average of $15/hr, that $12.50. Over a month, that’s over $350 just because kitchen guys were clocking in before they get dressed and pour their coffee instead of after. Similar to clocking out, if you budget for everyone to be gone by 10 pm, but clock-out times consistently show 10:45 pm, you need to make adjustments.

Adjusting scheduled in-times with Stagger Arrivals

Some stations don’t need to arrive at the same time as others. You should schedule each station according to the needs of that station, not just set an “in-time” for the whole staff.    

Do you have enough people to avoid overtime?

Sometimes it’s just a simple (simple, not easy) matter of having enough people on staff. If you need 400 hours of labor a week but only have 9 trained employees, you’re automatically going to have at least 40 hours of overtime. That’s the same as paying 11 people to do the work of 10.  

Cross Train Line Cooks & Prep Cooks

Start with station Mise en Place. Similar to scheduling in times for each station, you can cross-train a salad station employee to open up and Mise en Place the Sautee station. Then bring the Sautee expert in an hour later. This can help maximize efficiencies during off-peak hours.  

How much turnover do you have, how much are you spending on training new staff?

You may be hiring enough people, but not necessarily the right people. If you spend 40 hours training someone, only to watch them leave in a month, you’re spending that extra 40 hours to train someone every month.  


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