Best Restaurant Scheduling Software in 2023

For a restaurant owner in the food and beverage industry, employee scheduling ensures your labor costs remain reasonable. Forecasting the expected real-time employee availability for each shift is one of the top concerns for restaurant managers and restaurant owners.

Consider using the best restaurant scheduling software available rather than using inefficient schedule templates, spreadsheets, or time-tracking apps. Doing so will boost your restaurant’s functionality and streamline your restaurant employee scheduling process.

But what is the best scheduling app for you? Below is a list of the top employee management restaurant scheduling apps. The list includes all-in-one management tools that offer user-friendly options, drag-and-drop functionality, last-minute shift swapping, and more.

These scheduling features also make handling restaurant staff schedule changes, time-off requests, staffing timesheets, and other headaches easier. Consider the following options to improve your workforce management and work schedule practices.

What is a Restaurant Scheduling Software?

Some restaurant owners use spreadsheets and templates to determine shift schedules, with paper to-do lists that can be misread, misplaced, or forgotten when business gets crazy.

Scheduling software for restaurants optimizes work schedules and allows managers to focus on the business side of the restaurant instead. Good software (like Homebase) will help you reduce labor costs, improve employee satisfaction, adapt on the fly, and ensure your team is in sync.

Restaurant scheduling apps and software also improve business messaging and increase productivity.

What is the Best Restaurant Scheduling Software?

To start, let’s take a look at different options a restaurant scheduling app should offer. These include options such as:

  • POS Integration: POS Integration plays a vital role in marrying your sales data with employee schedules. It offers an effective way to fine-tune labor costs, as it correlates staffing requirements with real-time revenue. In simple terms, you can adjust your staffing levels based on busy and slow periods, ensuring you’re not overstaffed or understaffed at any given time.
  • Schedule Creation: Schedule creation forms the cornerstone of any restaurant scheduling app. A top-tier application makes this process intuitive, allowing for quick adjustments and easy dissemination of the schedule to staff. Look for software that allows you to build and distribute employee schedules electronically, eliminating the hassle and potential for error associated with paper schedules or spreadsheets.
  • Shift Trades: Modern life is unpredictable, making the need for a reliable shift trade feature imperative. This feature enables employees to swap shifts among themselves, pending manager approval. It reduces the managerial burden of having to micro-manage every scheduling change while still giving you control over who works when.
  • Task Management: Task management features extend beyond merely scheduling shifts; they help you allocate specific tasks to individual employees. For instance, it allows you to assign opening or closing duties, kitchen prep, or inventory counts. By integrating task management with the schedule, everyone knows their responsibilities, thereby increasing efficiency and accountability.
  • Clock-In, Clock-Out: The clock-in, clock-out function is another crucial feature. It helps ensure that employees work the hours they’re scheduled for, and it provides a digital paper trail for accurate payroll processing. This feature often includes safeguards against early clock-ins, thereby keeping labor costs in check.
  • Onboarding: A smooth onboarding process benefits both the employer and the new hire. Restaurant scheduling software that includes an onboarding feature can streamline the addition of new employees to the system, allowing them to become part of the scheduling and task management processes seamlessly.
  • Messaging and Notifications: Immediate and clear communication is vital in the restaurant industry. A good restaurant scheduling software will offer built-in messaging and notifications. Whether it’s a change in the schedule or a last-minute call for extra hands on deck, instant notifications ensure that the entire team is on the same page.

We’ll also look at potential features like which restaurant scheduling apps have a free mobile app for iOS or Android, which gives your employees access to your scheduling tool.

Homebase

  • Best for: Restaurants of all sizes, from mom-and-pop shops wanting full HR options to multi-location restaurants that need advanced scheduling availability.
  • Pros: Simplified interface, on-the-fly schedule changes from virtually anywhere, streamlines the scheduling process across multiple locations, free mobile app across all platforms.
  • Cons: Not all features are available on the free plan.

Homebase’s scheduling tool offers the best solution for businesses looking for a smart, user-friendly scheduling system that improves team happiness. With Homebase, you can create an optimized team schedule with the option to use templates or auto-scheduling without spending hours manually scheduling each employee.

You can also track availability and time-off requests to avoid scheduling issues, get overtime alerts, and build schedules based on your sales forecasts and labor targets.

Once the perfect schedule is ready, you can instantly share it with your team so everyone has the latest version.

The best part? Homebase is an all-in-one tool that connects your scheduling, time clock, labor forecasting, payroll, team communication, hiring, and more.

Sling

  • Best for: Restaurants more focused on accounting than customer experience.
  • Pros: Exports timesheets for payroll processing, editable timesheets, user-friendly design and interface.
  • Cons: Clock-out times are not recorded, a navigation learning curve that may take a lot of time to use correctly, and employees aren’t able to post-shift swaps.

Sling originally started to work with remote employees in Iceland, providing a way for tasks to be assigned to improve accountability, develop solid reporting for accounting and keep track of everyone through a range of messaging and collaboration features.

Though it does work for restaurants, it wasn’t its first intention. It can create frustrating issues when trying to change shifts, new employee onboarding, and running payroll.

Zoomshift

  • Best for: Restaurants with serious employee staffing issues.
  • Pros: Time tracking includes GPS to ensure shifts start on site, block early clock in and overtime, pre-shift messaging to restaurant staff to reduce no-shows.
  • Cons: Slow to load, many features not available offline, employees can’t directly message billing liaison with information.

Zoomshift was originally designed to not only provide a platform for the service industry but also to work with retail and other desk-less jobs. It’s very strongly focused on employee scheduling, but it doesn’t provide many of the other bells and whistles that make restaurant managers’ lives easier.

Additionally, the lack of offline features can make it difficult for restaurants that offer catering services in more remote areas.

6 Features to Look for in Restaurant Scheduling Software

There are several features that you should look for in your restaurant scheduling apps to ensure that you’re getting the best functionality out of it. These include:

Ease of Use

Above all else, your restaurant scheduling software must be easy to use — both by restaurant managers and by your restaurant staff. If the mobile app isn’t easy to use, it can be very difficult to get busy servers to clock in or clock out regularly, leading to serious labor costs and payroll issues.

Mobile Access

Virtually everyone has a smartphone these days. Many restaurants also provide their own tablets for restaurant staff to use for taking orders, logging in, scheduling, managing POS systems, and similar tasks that are handled on a daily basis.

If your restaurant scheduling software doesn’t work with mobile devices, it will be difficult for your employees to access when the restaurant is busy.

Reporting

Are any of your servers approaching overtime? Which ones have taken too much time off recently? Reporting allows you to access these types of metrics so that your schedule changes can happen quickly and easily. It’s also critical to keeping your labor budget in check.

This makes it much easier for you to make smarter scheduling decisions for your restaurant.

Shift Trades with Approval

Many restaurants have employees who constantly have to switch shifts because of life events. On the flip side, others will take on every shift they can, which can quickly put your labor budget in the red.

By allowing employees to create their own shift trades while giving you final approval on them, you’re able to better manage these issues without directly managing every step.

Built-In Messaging

Do you suddenly need extra employees to come in because of an unexpectedly large party during your typical dead time? What about an employee that suddenly comes up sick and needs a replacement?

The best employee scheduling software allows you to send messages to your employees to quickly ascertain who may be able to come in at the last minute.

Employee Availability

The most frustrating factor of paper templates or spreadsheets is the number of times you’ll have to change it due to issues with employee availability. With restaurant scheduling software, your employees can enter when they’re available or not available, making it much easier to develop your schedule.

Is Restaurant Scheduling Software Right for Your Business?

There are a number of reasons why you should add restaurant scheduling software to your business. It can save you a great deal of time in the scheduling process while saving the effort of having to constantly make changes due to employee availability, overtime, shift swaps or other issues.

At the same time, you’ll also want to look at the cost of the scheduling software compared to the return on your investment. (Tip: Homebase scheduling is free!)

Overall, most restaurants find that the small amount they may pay per month for the best restaurant scheduling software makes it well worth the investment in a very short period of time. This is because it increases workplace satisfaction, efficiency, forecasting, availability, shift trades, and many more common impacts on creating a restaurant shift schedule.

Need Help Scheduling Restaurant Shifts?

Not all restaurant scheduling apps are created equal. Some only work from a desktop or laptop computer and have no mobile app, creating backups at clock-in and clock-out times that can cost you money and efficiency.

Others only work on iOS or Android rather than all mobile devices, forcing you to change around the equipment you have available for your employees to use during their shifts.

When it comes to finding the best restaurant scheduling software, choose Homebase. Our wide range of features centralizes your HR and scheduling needs across all devices. We’ll help your small businesses handle time clocks, scheduling, payroll, communication, and HR so you can focus on your people.

Why not give the free trial a shot and see how well it works for your restaurant?

Restaurant scheduling software FAQs

homebase customer photo homebase customer photo

How do I create a restaurant schedule?

Though many restaurants are still using pen and paper templates, Excel spreadsheets, and other restaurant industry tools, there are many options that provide better employee scheduling tools, increasing your ROI.

Using employee scheduling software for your shift scheduling provides you with a better option, making it easier to avoid issues caused by restaurant understaffing.

With this type of restaurant scheduling software, you can simply enter your employee availability and allow the software to develop the restaurant schedule for the upcoming period, providing predictive scheduling your employees can enjoy.

How much does scheduling software cost?

The simplest answer to this question is it depends. There are many restaurant scheduling software apps that provide you with the absolute basics for free, but aren’t very good, while others, such as Homebase, provide plenty of functionality in their free option.

At the same time, paid restaurant scheduling apps often deliver more features that can make your business run more smoothly and take care of many of your HR needs.

As an example, Homebase provides extensive features at every level, with our top-level plan providing you with onboarding assistance, employee documentation, and everything you need to manage your restaurant’s HR needs. This allows you to minimize the number of software subscriptions you’re paying every month, saving money in the long run.

How does restaurant scheduling work?

The best restaurant scheduling software provides you with options for a free mobile app for iOS or Android that your employees can use from their own devices, or from mobile devices that you provide for that purpose.

The restaurant scheduling software pushes the employee’s schedule out to the mobile devices, allows for options such as last-minute shift swaps, and makes it easy for your employees to log in, even when your clock-in and clock-out device is otherwise busy.

What software is used for scheduling?

As we mentioned above, there are several types of restaurant scheduling software available to get the job done, but which one you choose is up to you. Because your restaurant is as unique as your employees, it will require you to carefully consider the different features, benefits, and drawbacks of each option.

However, Homebase does have a number of features that put us above other options on the market, such as Zoomshift, and Sling, which you should consider carefully before making your final decision.

Does Homebase have scheduling software for restaurants?

Yes! Homebase is focused solidly on providing workforce management solutions, so we work very well to handle your schedule creation needs. However, we’re so much more than just a software scheduling tool.

Homebase provides you with opportunities for your time clock, messaging, payroll, applicant tracking, onboarding, and many other aspects of employee management. Best of all, it’s free to get started with over 10 employees, provides scheduling support over 10 days out, and many other options.

Beyond our free accounts, we offer a range of options to meet your needs, including remote/field connectivity for catering work, labor cost control and budgeting, everything up to full HR support, and employee documentation.

If you’re ready to get started with Homebase, we can help. Save an average of 5-10 hours each week with our simplified restaurant scheduling software and mobile timesheet.  Sign up for a free account today, check out our paid options, or discover more about what Homebase can do for your business in our blog.

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