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Building Your Ideal Staffing Chart

A staffing chart shows what positions you need to fill during every hour of every day throughout the week. It is similar to a lineup card in baseball except with baseball you always have nine players. In your restaurant you may have three people during one low volume hour and thirteen during a peak period. The staffing chart is designed to ensure you have all your bases covered during the busiest times of each day of the week and that you are not wasting labor dollars by having people stand around during slow periods.

To make a staffing chart, you begin by projecting your busiest days of the week. In addition, I like to build a chart for each peak period that the restaurant is open. In a breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant concept, for example, I would build three separate charts.

For the sake of this discussion, suppose Friday night between 5:00 and 7:00 is your busiest time. You begin making your staffing chart by writing down each and every person you think you will need on the shift to execute your concept to your standards: Chef, Bartender 1, Bartender 2, Line Cook 1, Line Cook 2, and so on. When you are done listing these positions, you will have a complete rundown of every position you need to have filled during your busiest two hours of the given day-part on your busiest day.

But how do you know how many people you need at every hour? Try this scientific technique that has been proven through years of research: guess. You are opening a new restaurant, so there are a ton of unknowns. Guess and then adjust. An ideal staffing chart, just like a schedule, is a work in constant progress. As you become more familiar with the ebbs and flows of your food sales, you will become a better guesser.

Once you have an idea of how many people you want in each day-part, use what is commonly referred to as stair-stepping. This stair-stepping process is built by using your common sense and, in time, your gut feel of when the business is most likely in need of more staff. Everyone knows that noon in a lunch restaurant is busy, and 10:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. are not. Your schedule should reflect that fact.

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