Employee Labor Scheduling: Interview with TimeForge.com’s Anthony Presley
TimeForge offers a web-based employee scheduling system for restaurants. We spoke with Anthony Presley, the Founder of TimeForge about his business and some of the potential ways it benefits restaurant operators today.
RR: Paper schedules have worked for a long, long time — why web based labor scheduling?
AP: Because paper schedules are difficult and time consuming. Building a paper schedule requires that the manager building the schedule consider many different factors including employee abilities / skills, anticipated sales, individual work habits, food preparation, employee availability, individual work requests, certifications required for handling alcohol, and overall labor costs. If any one of those factors is incorrect, the establishment can lose sales, personnel, or be fined. It’s a tedious and time-consuming task that few operators enjoy doing.
Web based labor scheduling allows managers to input many of the scheduling factors into an easy to manipulate format, and the software remembers – forever – everything that the managers (or employees) input. If “John” asked for Monday off, and the manager agreed, then John is not available to be scheduled on Monday.
RR: What do employees think of the system?
AP: Employees LOVE the system. We recently began entering data for a client in Connecticut, and as part of our data entry, we setup all of his employees to be able to login into TimeForge. Our setup process can take between 2 and 4 days, and by the time the owner was using TimeForge, his employees had already submitted more than 40 requests for time off, had been receiving daily email and text message alerts about their schedules, and told him that it was “Very Cool!”
RR: The notification aspect of your system seems like a neat feature — talk about this a bit.
AP: Notifications keep employees “in the loop” anytime a schedule is created, a request is approved or denied, or a shift swap is approved by management. More specifically, with TimeForge, employees can input their email address and/or their cell phone numbers to allow TimeForge to contact them. Of course, employees can check the status of upcoming schedules, shift swaps, or request / availability changes at any time by logging into the website.
When schedules are published or modified by management, employees are sent an email with the updated schedule. Employees receive schedule emails on a “rolling” basis – meaning that they receive an email every day, which includes that day’s schedule, and the next several days (up to 30) worth of schedules. Additionally, employees can receive text messages before their shift. These messages go straight to their cell phone, and can be setup by the employee to ring up to 24 hours in advance of the beginning of the shift.
The notifications keep employees informed, which makes them happy, which reduces turnover. A win-win for the business!
RR: So, have you seen the system positively effect employee turnover?
AP: Yes, yes we have. Many of our users have seen a 5% – 8% reduction in turnover after using our system. Why? Because requests are tracked, employee schedule preferences are tracked and both requests and preferences appear on the schedules every time. Employees are notified when they need to work. Schedules can be printed, emailed, and sent via text message. Employees stay happy, because they always know what is going on, and don’t have to wait for management to post the schedule on Sunday night to see who works on Monday morning.
RR: If a restaurant operator says “tell me in 15 seconds why your product is a good idea”, how do you respond?
AP: We have a simple pitch…it is designed to be simple, because our software is simple. The response is always: “Can you make a schedule in 30 seconds? Our software can, which means you can be doing something else with your time.” I don’t know many operators, even with only a few employees, who can build a schedule in 30 seconds.
Once the restaurant operators digests the fact that TimeForge can, in fact, build a complete schedule in 30 seconds…then we start talking about employee notifications, shift swapping, overlapping schedule capabilities (kitchen, dining room, patio, catering, etc.), multiple locations, strength/skill level ranking, multiple position tracking, reduction in turnover, etc.
RR: How much time does a typical owner/manger have to spend with the scheduling system on a weekly basis? And how have you seen that differ from what they experience with their existing scheduling system?
AP: Most of our users are able to pick up the basics of the system within minutes. We have several tutorials, as well as more than 100 FAQ questions and embedded help screens to assist our users.
However, once fully proficient with the software, the typical managerial user can expect to spend about 3 – 5 minutes per day with the software. This time is used to print out the daily schedule, review any employee requests that are outstanding, and approve or deny employee shift swaps. Additionally, when it is time to make the schedule, managers can expect to spend another 5 – 10 minutes creating the schedule for a medium-sized restaurant. When they are happy with the schedule, they just click “Post”, and all of the employees on the schedule can see the schedule. That’s it!
Comparatively, scheduling with excel (or by hand) or a POS system requires that the manager first locate the request book, the availability sheets, the notes that were taken outside of either of those documents, a separate sheet for each individual’s labor costs, and they will need to keep track of several other factors in their head (such as employee skill sets, and min/max hours per employee). Once they’re done (a process which could take between 2 and 6 hours per week), they need to make sure the employees are notified. This probably means going into their email system, copying the schedule, and emailing it to their employees. A lot more work, a lot more than can go wrong.
How long does it take to make your employee schedules? It should take less than 5 minutes! Did you know that TimeForge can streamline and minimize labor expenses through effective employee labor management at your business, bar, club, or restaurant.