Controlling Restaurant Labor Costs: A Guide to Profitable Decision Making  

As a restaurant owner or general manager, you know that labor costs can be one of the most significant expenses in the food service industry. Maintaining high standards while keeping labor costs under control is crucial for any successful business. Fortunately, there are various strategies you can implement that will help you keep labor costs under control without affecting guest satisfaction. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some effective strategies to control labor costs and bolster revenue.

Labor Costs

  1. Implement Smart Scheduling Techniques 
    Implementing smart scheduling techniques can effectively manage labor costs and increase productivity in the restaurant industry. Overstaffing is a common mistake among managers that can be easily avoided. By analyzing your business’s peak hour data, you can determine a suitable number of team members you need at varying times throughout the week. Advanced scheduling techniques include optimizing employee breaks, staggering start times, and reducing shift overlap, which can be very beneficial. Modern schedule management apps, such as 7Shifts or HotSchedules, are a worthwhile investment that make it simpler than ever to get an accurate, detailed picture of your labor costs that aids in making informed decisions.  
  2. Invest in Technological Alternatives 
    Investing in technology can be an excellent way to reduce labor costs. Online ordering systems and payment gateways can facilitate hassle-free, self-service transactions and reduce the need for cashiers. Moreover, highly customizable POS systems and inventory trackers can eliminate the necessity of mundane data entry tasks that a human can do. For example, tip-pools can be automated, saving hours a day in on-the-clock data entry, cash counting, and going to the bank. You can also use these technologies for labor forecasting to adjust staffing levels in real-time. Integrating all of your platforms can be a time-consuming process, but ultimately will save your team hours of administrative tasks per week and give them powerful tools to communicate with and efficiently manage the staff. 
  3. Monitor and Train Employees Efficiently 
    Effective training and constant monitoring of employees have been instrumental in cost-cutting in restaurants. Good employee training ensures staff knows how to manage their workload better. Monitoring employees’ punctuality and attendance and reducing turnover can further optimize labor costs for business owners. Additionally, a work environment with a culture of open communication, trust, and respect can lead to high performance and reduce the chances of employees leaving the job.  
  4. Streamline All Operations 
    Streamlining all internal operations can optimize the flow of work and effective delegation of work. Ensure job roles and descriptions are clear and involved at maximum productivity to ensure the efficient function of your overall business. In addition, potentially time-consuming administrative tasks such as inventory management and invoice coding must be set up for efficiency and ease of use. Many restaurant managers are afraid of “managing from the office” and shy away from spending time building or maintaining systems of operations. Solid operations systems spread the workload, giving managers valuable tools to allocate resources efficiently and delegate effectively, allowing them to spend less time gathering data and more time using that data to better manage their teams.
  5. Control How You Manage Your Menu 
    A menu dictates what customers order and what needs to be cooked and served. Limit your menu options; customers will appreciate a streamlined menu, and you will improve kitchen productivity by reducing prep times and waste. A flexible kitchen will allow menu adjustments to the traffic passing through your restaurant. Additionally, running specials is better than overproducing items that are not selling. 

In conclusion, labor costs are a significant expense for restaurant owners. However, with minor adjustments in various business areas, owners can still offer quality service and increase revenue while streamlining productivity. By correctly incorporating technology, scheduling, training, monitoring employees, and adjusting culinary menus, you can cut labor costs and boost morale, leading to happy employees and customers

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