HotSchedules All-In on Manager Retention


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Restaurant turnover has just dipped from historic highs in the summer, and they aren’t getting much better. 

According to research firm TDn2k, turnover is getting a little better—38% of companies surveyed by the firm saw decreasing turnover rates. But that’s little solace to the restaurant owner who’s searching for a new manager or the overworked manager daydreaming of office jobs as they churn through hourly workers.

Keeping that manager and keeping them sane is at the heart of HotSchedules and it’s new end-to-end Clarifi restaurant operating platform. The new suite of labor, finance and asset management tools was announced at the company’s Spark Conference in Dallas.

HotSchedules CEO Mike Arenth said keeping managers was one of the first things they tried to solve when breaking into the restaurant technology space and the 10% of the U.S. workforce it represents back in 1999.

“One of the things we found out and saw what problem we wanted to solve was what drive success of a restaurant. The problem is it’s getting harder and harder to make that equation work. Through our research, we found out that it’s really determinant on the success and retention of managers,” said Arenth. “But we haven’t made managers more successful over the years, we add things to their plate, but we don’t take anything off.”

Getting something for restaurants specifically took a new approach to optimizing than Arenth’s prior experience in the tech space.  

“In my previous experience, you’d talk about optimizing a business process for the buyer, they’d love it. Here, you can talk about labor savings then you go to the user and they hate it because they are being forced into a business process. But ours love it because they see it as a place of engagement,” said Arenth.

Employees could trade shifts, find training, get announcements from their employer and—above all—get their schedule without calling the manager or stopping at the restaurant. Arenth said, they have used all the data culled via 1.5 billion hours scheduled and $65 million in restaurant sales to predict sore spots before they become a managerial headache or another employee search.

“For instance, if you look at one of their best servers has been trying to get additional shifts and hasn’t been able to do so. We know there is competition in this space and you may lose her, so wouldn’t it be better to see that and be able to take action on that to provide retention of that waiter and manager?” asked Arenth. “So you can get an alert saying, ‘Hey, Daniel got rejected for a shift but he’s one of your top servers, you need to have a conversation with Daniel.’ It allows you to take action on what you need to do now. But you wouldn’t have seen that, you might not see it until Daniel leaves.”

Alerts like that help keep managers focused on driving sales instead of hiring. And the business can save the cost of hiring Daniel and his manager. TDn2K puts the current average cost of employee turnover at $2,171 for front of house employees and $15,217 for managers.

The new Clarifi program goes a little further to measure and alert managers to things like employee pay relative to peers, ping managers when menu item inventory is too high and re-run a well-received promotion, lower inventory prices so managers can save time pouring over vendor websites. It also taps into weather and other data to predict required staffing around a sunny or rainy day as well as big events like a home football game.

It’s all stuff that a great manager has always done, but as those great managers get tougher to find, it’s a way to capitalize on great manager habits with whoever a restaurant can get.

“It is pretty direct in terms of labor savings. Anywhere from 2.5% to 3% by looking at the turnover and how to staff after when using the app,” said Arenth. “Every penny saved drops down to the bottom line.”

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