Zaxby's Chicken and Wings

This case study highlights how we helped Zaxby's cut their labor costs and time spent scheduling restaurant staff.

Table of Contents

Cut Labor Costs: Zaxby's Gets It!

Zaxby's chooses TimeForge for easy employee scheduling and simple labor management.

Franchise owner Robert Ward has been in the Zaxby’s business for over a decade, starting when his family began opening locations in Jacksonville, Florida. He just opened the second ever Zaxby’s in Tennessee, and is in the process of opening several more. Ward originally used a prominent TimeForge competitor for scheduling at his new store, but quickly learned that he was losing money with that decision. He switched to TimeForge after running his third payroll, and has saved over $12,000 every month with TimeForge.

About Zaxby's

Long celebrated for delicious chicken as well as for its wonderfully varied menu, Zaxby´s has happy customers all over the southern United States. The chicken chain, which now has over 500 locations, has prided itself on being guest-focused, exceeding expectations, and striving for the highest quality possible in everything that they do.

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The Challenges for Zaxby's:

  • Labor costs too high
  • Too much time spent scheduling
  • Needed to meet Corporate’s labor percentage goal

Lower Labor Costs with "Aces in their places"

According to Chaz Tippins, the store’s General Manager, the biggest issue when the new Zaxby’s opened was labor cost. With the opening of a new business, Tippins and Ward knew to expect high labor costs, but were not expecting as much overtime. 

“With a new restaurant, you’re going to run a lot of labor in the front end, and then it will flatten out over a 6 to 8 week period. We were using [another software package] and with them, we were not as efficient as what TimeForge allows. Everybody was running overtime.”

All of our metrics are attributed to having your aces in their places. If you can have the best people work the best positions at the right times, the rest will take care of itself.

Tippins says they track several metrics, but labor is tantamount. “We track speed of service, labor, and cost of goods, but labor cost is the biggest one. All of our metrics are attributed to having your aces in their places. If you can have the best people work the best positions at the right times, the rest will take care of itself. Whether you can maintain a high quality staff, train them correctly, and put them in the right places will be the success or demise of your business. Less mistakes, less waste, less costs… TimeForge is helping with all of that!”

Time Spent Scheduling is Reduced

Even though they were using employee scheduling software, it was still taking too long to create a schedule. For Tippins, spending hours on an employee schedule just wasn’t a solution. He has plenty of other tasks that need  attention: “Think about the time involved with doing the schedule for 50 people – when you’re running the restaurant, doing the schedule, the truck order, and handling the lunch rush!”

Zaxby’s had trouble building schedules because of the lack of flexibility offered by his first scheduling system. Tippins said the process went something like this: “I’d have to build the schedule on a Monday for front of house, so I’d have to say ‘I want so and so on this position’, but [the other software] wouldn’t allow you to schedule positions – it took forever! I’d have to draw out the schedule on a piece of paper, then put it in, then add it to the website. I would be making up the hours as I went along, keeping people working within the right amount of time, and remembering who works what. It was about an hour and a half or two hours every week.” That’s 104 manager hours annually spent on just putting together the employee schedule!

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TimeForge Outperforms the Competition

Ward said that the TimeForge competitor clearly couldn’t handle the number of employees he schedules, “You had to make every single schedule every single time. You had no blank templates! If you have 50 or more employees, TimeForge will get it done… [The other software] was not as friendly and not as mature as TimeForge. [It] wasn’t doing what we needed it to do, so we switched all the way over to TimeForge. [The other product] just didn’t work. I thought it’d be easier for people to like, but it just didn’t work.”

Tippins said that he and Ward decided to give TimeForge a try when they realized that TimeForge was much more simple than the competitor. At first, the competitor appeared simple, but turned out to require much more of Tippins’ time than he expected.  “[They] sucked. It seemed easy, but for one person to do the schedule, it was just too much. TimeForge was the back up, and it ended up being like – Wow! We should have gone with them in the first place! What you put into it is what you get out of it.”

Exceeding Corporate Labor Percentage Goals

Since Zaxby’s is a franchise, Ward also uses TimeForge to keep corporate happy. Right now, with Ward’s impressive attention to detail, labor percentages are well within Corporate’s expectations: “The typical thing is that you should get your labor down to 18-20 % within 12 weeks of being open – we’re running 18% in our 8th week! I think it has to do with TimeForge – being able to see and plan out your labor for the day, easily see if overscheduling is happening.”

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Ward shared why he thinks TimeForge has such an impact on his labor numbers. “I have noticed that I’m able to schedule less people. Instead of scheduling two people to do two jobs, I can schedule just one; it’s more streamlined. The thing I like the best is the AutoSchedule™ feature, because if you can set up your people and your jobs and what jobs your people can do, then you just hit ‘AutoSchedule™’ and it builds it up for you.”

TimeForge offered the right combination of efficiency and ease of use for Zaxby’s, saving them overtime costs and manager time. “We do our payroll every two weeks, and we’re on our ninth week of having employees. Payroll that first 2 weeks [with the other software] was $28,500. Two more payrolls were about $32,000 because of overtime and horrible scheduling. Then we switched to TimeForge, and I’ve been able to keep from double scheduling. We’re more precise, we’re able to pinpoint with the templates and see exactly how our manpower is stacking up for each day. Our last payroll with TimeForge was $24,000!” That’s right – TimeForge is saving Ward an average of $12,000 every month! TimeForge is saving Ward $144,000 per year on labor costs – a 24,000% return on his investment!

The Advantages of the AutoScheduler

TimeForge has dramatically improved Zaxby’s labor costs. Tippins was emanating delight when he said, “Labor costs are low – it’s AWESOME!” Reducing labor costs without scrimping on coverage by using the AutoScheduler™ is the best advantage for Tippins. “TimeForge allowed us to take the people that really could work all the time and effectively use those people to the maximum, and the system essentially finds the best people for the best positions.” 

Tippins uses the AutoScheduler™ to create an optimal schedule every time, and it has even helped him pinpoint a major labor concern – being overstaffed. “A lot of times, it won’t even schedule people… we found out that we had too many cashiers, so I think it’s weeded some people out. If you input the parameters correctly, the schedule’s going to show whether you’re overstaffed or understaffed.” Ward knows that his store’s staffing levels are better with TimeForge: “So one gal came to me and said, ‘Robert, ya’ll aren’t paying overtime anymore!? I need that overtime pay!…’ Employees don’t understand what they are asking – they don’t realize that I am the company!”

Flexibility and Ease of Use Translates into Increased Customer Satisfaction - and Employee Satisfaction, too!

TimeForge’s flexibility and ease of use has helped Ward keep his customer satisfaction rate up by scheduling helpful tasks. “If I’m at the store and I’ve done the schedule, and I noticed that the dining room isn’t as clean as it should be,  I can add a shift that schedules a dedicated person to come clean the dining room!” TimeForge is user friendly and makes modifying a schedule easy. “Sometimes, there will be a schedule that’s posted, but someone comes in and tells us there’s an emergency… so, we switch the schedule around and it just lets people know. There’s three places!” The software automatically sends TimeForge Messages, emails, and texts to Zaxby’s employees about schedule changes, and employees can even check their schedule through their social media account!

Even though the employees are not excited about losing their overtime hours, TimeForge makes them happy with its ease of use and automated notifications.

Swapping shifts is also easy with TimeForge; employees can swap with other employees, or management can help an employee get their shifts covered, as Ward explains: “I had a guy come up and tell me that his school started and he couldn’t work nights anymore, so we were able to go in, click on his name, and it pops up everybody else who’s available and how many hours they have, so it got taken care of.” TimeForge gives you all the information you need so you can keep your employees happy without overtime!

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TimeForge is great for reducing turnover, because it keeps employees feeling in the loop and never schedules them on days that they have been approved to be off. “As far as turnover, that’s the shocking thing. I think we’ve had one person quit out of 50! We can’t get rid of them!” In an industry with an average annual turnover rate of 100% to 200%, Ward’s turnover rate is 13%! Even compared to low industry averages, he’s saving $86,000 per year with his remarkably low turnover!

TimeForge allowed us to take the people that really could work all the time and effectively use those people to the maximum, and the system essentially finds the best people for the best positions.

Human Resources

Ward loves TimeForge Human Resources: “I’m always looking for ways to streamline and to better compete. I saw that you could configure certain things that need to be done before someone can be scheduled! Then, once all the checkboxes are done, it’ll allow that person to be scheduled. There’s no ‘Oh, I forgot to do that thing’!”

Robert Ward has fallen in love with TimeForge and plans to use it forever! “I’d be lost without TimeForge!”

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