4 tips for lowering labor costs

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Foodservice operators in noncommercial settings have a lot to contend with when it comes to labor costs. Factors such as employee turnover, work ethic, training and scheduling can contribute the burden and significantly increase the price of labor. Fortunately, there are several tactics operators can use to help to minimize and mitigate labor costs without sacrificing safety, food quality or customer service.

Hire the right people

Making good hiring decisions cannot be underestimated. Employees should have a good work ethic and the knowledge to succeed. And operators, in turn, should work to make employees feel that they have ownership of their positions and are appreciated. Hiring a new employee is far more expensive than losing a trained one. Workplace satisfaction will increase the likelihood employees will remain on the job, which will go a long way toward keeping labor costs at bay.

One way to hire and retain great employees is to work with their schedules. A flexible student employment program that supports student engagement, for example, can position dining jobs as an attractive employment option. Having a structured student employment program that fits with student schedules and offers flexibility in shift swapping, as well as strong onboarding, is valuable. To help retain student employees, a student employment program that fosters development through intentional check-ins with supervisors, skill and leadership development and the opportunity for advancement is key. Also, having an intentional message of benefits beyond the paycheck for students will improve retention and reduce turnover. 

Another factor that can help to reduce labor costs is if employees are able to multitask by handling multiple duties and taking an active role in various parts of the operation. Once that person is hired, work to cross-train them in multifaceted aspects of the business. This will pay off in scheduling and efficiency.

Update the scheduling process

Assuming schedules will be the same week to week is not efficient or effective. Weeks and months differ, depending on the workers’ availability, not to mention holidays and other events. Be sure to take these factors into account when making staffing decisions. Switching to employee scheduling software—which integrates point-of-sale historic sales data, employee availability and other parameters—might be a good choice. This software can provide labor forecasting and help to optimize scheduling.

Also consider moving to a program where schedules are posted online so employees can review them and swap or add shifts as needed. For instance, most timekeeping software apps allow employees to check their schedules from their phones, reducing the need for paper schedules and ensuring staff always has access to the schedule. This helps to cut down on staff shortages and last-minute shift swapping.

Apps can also be customized to develop a shift swapping feature. For instance, one customer worked with Kronos to create shift swapping customization. This customization allows students to post shifts that they want to give up from their phones, and other students can pick the shifts up (also using their phones). Once the student picks up the shift, they become the shift owner in the schedule. When it is easy for students to trade shifts, student absenteeism and resignations often decrease. 

Reduce overtime and improve efficiency

Paying for overtime can add up fast. To reduce these costs, consider scheduling more of your part-time employees or hiring temporary workers. Lost productivity lowers profits as well. A time and attendance app can track time worked and when employees start and stop. These apps might even include geo-tracking and photo facial detection settings to detect early clock-ins and monitor that the right person is working. These timesheets can work seamlessly with your payroll provider to help save on administration time and costs.

Switch to mobile inventory

Mobile inventorying can help mitigate the time and labor spent doing so manually. Automation is key—CBORD’s technology offers the following:

  • It eliminates the need to print paper copies of inventories in order to count. This contributes to sustainability and expense reduction.
  • Inventory counts, which are entered on an android or iOS device with a direct connection to FSS. These eliminate the need for an employee to manually enter all of the inventory counts into the FSS system.
  • Support for shelf-to-sheet inventory counting, which greatly increases speed in accurate counting.
  • Allowance for multiple users to be counting within the same inventory on any mobile device.
  • Scanning, which allows for product barcodes to be scanned and counted, which eliminates the need to search an inventory for a specific item.

Operators that take advantage of the various ways to save on labor costs may find themselves recouping thousands of lost dollars—perfect for balancing the budget.

This post is sponsored by CBORD