The Scheduling Difficulties Faced by Caterers
Before companies like Schedulehead, catering company scheduling could be a very tiring and frustrating experience.
There are a number of unique challenges that catering companies can experience:
- Problem 1: Different locations and times
- Problem 2: Fluctuating work weeks and last-minute events with staff that is typically part-time
- Problem 3: Special on-site instructions
All of these challenges can give just about anyone a headache figuring out and communicating all the details. The first step once the sale is done for most catering companies is to begin the search for servers. This usually involves either the owner, a manager, or a full-time scheduler making phone calls from a list of servers. This is a very tedious process and gets harder as the schedule fills with more and more events. You can have workers that are unsure, that want a call back, that don’t answer, or that one that says okay. As you get more answers you have to start balancing who will go to which parties if you have multiple in one day because certain servers can only make one party or another.
For example you could have event A that is 10 minutes away with staff arriving at 2pm and event B that is 35 minutes away with staff arriving at 4pm. You begin to call your staff, starting with Becky. She is one of your most experienced servers. She is available that day after 2 pm, but does not have a car currently. You pencil here in as tentative and move on to the next server. Ron isn’t available that day. Judy is also very experienced and can make either shift.
Now you have a dilemma, you can either staff both Becky and Judy on event B and see if they can carpool or staff Judy on event A and look for someone else to carpool to Event B with Becky. The problems continue from there as you find out everyone’s schedules and issues. The main problem is that due to the part-time nature of a lot of catering jobs, you are often partially at the mercy of your servers’ schedules.
Solution 1: Locations and Times
Different locations and times for shifts poses a big problem with figuring out whose schedules will fit with which events. Schedulehead has several solutions for this specific scheduling problem. First we offset the responsibilities of managing your servers’ schedules to the servers. What this means is that you can create openings and your servers sign up for them. This makes them responsible for signing up for shifts that they can make.
Of course, your first concern in scheduling would be balancing the needs of seniority and experience. You don’t want all the decisions to be made by your employees. Schedulehead does this in a couple ways. Schedulehead’s review system plus worker seniority allow higher ranked senior workers to see shifts further out and get first opportunity on both newly added and last minute shifts. Schedulehead’s shift equalizer balances staff on a single day by only showing them the party they need to sign up for to balance seniority and experience for each day. This way if 2 experienced servers end up on your Event A, Schedulehead will show your other experienced servers Shift B.
Solution 2: Weekly Fluctuations
As mentioned before the part-time nature of the work and the fluctuating work weeks can often put you at the mercy of your servers’ schedules. Schedulehead, as previously mentioned partially relieves this by offloading the responsibility of your servers’ schedules to your servers where it belongs. The other half is accounting for last-minute events. These events could be within 24 hours or less which puts a lot of strain on you to schedule workers quickly. Schedulehead can take care of this by utilizing its Autotext feature. This feature sends text messages to your staff starting with the highest seniority and highest ranked ones. The Autotext system allows workers to sign up for these last-minute shifts through text messages. This is a quick and automated system that takes the strain off of you, so that you can focus on making sure everthing else is prepared.
Solution 3: Communication
Communication is the cornerstone of nearly any business, and Catering is no different. When scheduling your staff, you will often have special instructions in uniforms, meeting locations, driving directions, etc. This needs to be communicated to the servers directly and simply. Schedulehead fulfills this need by providing comments for both the whole event and the specific skillset group. This way if you have special instructions for everyone and special instructions for just bartenders, servers will only receive the instructions for everyone. Quick and easy communication. Schedulehead also provides the capability to email all workers and email out event updates such as arrival time and location.