Keeping your restaurant customers satisfied sometimes means you overlook how efficiently you’re managing your staff—and your business.
Still, well-designed time tracking, scheduling, and restaurant operations platforms can help you make more cost-effective decisions, follow labor laws, and find ways to enhance team efficiency.
A platform like Jolt offers industry-specific tools for food safety and inventory management, as well as basic features for time tracking and scheduling. But, as Jolt users will tell you, it isn’t beginner-friendly or designed for small businesses that need more HR and administrative support. Plus, your small business staff may need extra training to use Jolt.
To steer you toward a better option for your small restaurant, cafe, or bar, we’ve reviewed the top six Jolt alternatives and consulted real customer reviews from G2 and Capterra in June 2023. Our comparison below highlights the best use cases, key features, and pros and cons of each platform so you can transition to a better restaurant management solution with confidence.
What is Jolt and what is it used for?
Jolt is a restaurant operations software that business owners can use to handle their food safety, inventory management, and team management tasks. Jolt customers also get access to integrated devices for meat thermometers, refrigerators, freezers, line prep stations, and bread proofers. This hardware makes it a solid option for busy restaurant managers that struggle to stay ahead of food safety regulations and inspections.
The platform also provides tools for inventory management and list making so the back of house stays organized and clean, and its information library allows managers to consolidate recipes and training docs for new and experienced team members.
Why might you need a Jolt alternative?
Jolt has plenty to offer to larger restaurants and franchises that need to update their food handling systems. But it’s not a perfect fit for food and beverage businesses of all sizes, and it has limitations when it comes to team operations.
You’re looking for more user-friendly team management tools
With its features and connected devices for handling food safety and inventory processes, Jolt is a useful solution to have in your restaurant technology toolkit. But Jolt’s team operation features aren’t as flexible or as intuitive as other platforms. The design of its time clock, scheduling tools, and chat features aren’t designed with users in mind, and they’re not mobile-friendly, which isn’t convenient for restaurant and cafe owners that often run their teams from off-site.
As one Jolt user put it, “The design could be better. When it comes to using all-in-one software, design is critical, especially for kitchen staff that is quite busy. The simpler, the better.”
You need a solution with less of a learning curve
Many Jolt users agree that the current customer support team is readily available to teach them how the software works and troubleshoot issues. One user even says that, without customer support, they would have been “lost and overwhelmed.”
While it’s great to have a reliable service team on your side, very few small restaurant, cafe, and bar owners have time to reach out to customer support simply to learn how their software works. It’s important to find an alternative you — and your staff — can pick up and learn within a few hours so you can use it every day.
You’re looking for a better small business solution
The majority of Jolt customers are mid-market restaurants and chains, which means they employ 50 to 1000 staff members. Considering that, Jolt users likely have bigger budgets to spend on additional software to support them with essential tasks like storing paperwork and documentation, calculating paychecks, and automatically remitting payroll taxes — all of which Jolt doesn’t handle.
Small business owners in the restaurant industry need software that enables them to do more with less. When you’re an owner-manager with a lean team, it’s crucial you have more versatile communication, scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and HR and compliance.
Key features to look for in a Jolt alternative
If you’ve been struggling to find a Jolt substitute, it’s possible you haven’t considered options that offer the following elements:
- Designed for small businesses — You don’t have to be an expert in HR, employee law, compliance, or accounting to run a small business, but regulations will still apply to you. Consider prioritizing a team operations platform with built-in notifications and reminders that keep you on the right side of labor regulations. And it’s best if it connects you with HR resources, templates, and experts who can guide you along the way.
- Usability — User-friendly software reduces the risk of mistakes or oversights during shift checks, availability updates, or clock-ins and outs. When a platform layout is well-organized, users can easily navigate its workflows without getting confused or frustrated. This means you’ll spend less time fielding employee questions or providing training.
- More team management tools — Many platforms only focus on features like time tracking, scheduling, and communication, which are key for busy restaurant owners who want to keep their staff in the loop and make sure team members have what they need to collaborate effectively. Still, there are options that also offer tools for running payroll, hiring and onboarding, and centralizing team information and documentation. That allows small business owners to keep their software tool kit manageable, their processes streamlined, and their business expenses under control.
- Affordability — Every solution has its own pricing model, and not all are suitable for small business teams. It’s best to start with a platform that has a comprehensive free plan. For example, Homebase lets you access their time tracking and scheduling tools for free for up to 20 employees. For more advanced features, make sure the solution you choose offers per-location rather than per-user pricing. That way, you can avoid paying more as your team grows.
The 6 top Jolt alternatives
Each solution on our shortlist of recommendations is designed to optimize your restaurant staff management:
- Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
- 7shifts: Best for tip pooling
- HotSchedules: Best for labor forecasting
- Push Operations: Best for performance management
- Restaurant365: Best for managing business expenses
- Sling: Best for scheduling on a tight budget
1. Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
“There’s a lot to love about Homebase.
The website and app are extremely user-friendly. Perhaps my two favorite parts about the app are the ability for my staff to request time off via the app, and to trade or cover shifts. I was getting several texts throughout the day, and this is much less invasive.”
With its intuitive team management tools, Homebase helps restaurant, cafe, and bar owners reduce their workload and keep their teams organized. Our mobile GPS time clock lets you set up authorized worksites so employees can clock in and out from the right place. Automatic reminders for upcoming shifts, breaks, and clock-outs help you avoid timesheet errors. Additionally, our drag-and-drop employee scheduling tool lets team members swap shifts and pick up open slots with minimal manager effort — team leads only need to approve or deny swaps and shift changes with a click.
Homebase is also highly accessible for new business owners. A free account only takes a few minutes to set up, and it’s easy for staff to use. Your team can use the free mobile app every day to check their schedules, update their availability, track time, communicate with their teammates, check their pay stubs, and even cash out up to $400 of their next check ahead of payday.
Finally, with our per-location pricing, Homebase is well-priced for small businesses, especially considering how comprehensive our solutions are. With a paid plan, you’ll have access to the hiring and onboarding and HR and compliance tools you need to grow your business sustainably and responsibly. Plus, you’ll get access to a team of HR professionals who can review your policies, answer your burning questions on issues around employment law and tax regulations, and even design your first employee handbook. That’s great news for small business owners with limited HR knowledge.
11 features that simplify your team management workload and keep you compliant
- Mobile time tracking with GPS and geofencing tools to prevent time theft
- A time clock that auto-converts hours into timesheets complete with wage and overtime data
- An intuitive employee scheduling tool that can auto-populate timetables with shifts every week
- Simple shift-swapping features that reduce manager workload
- Full-service payroll software that calculates wages, sends payments, and files taxes for you
- An employee messaging app you can use to send messages to individuals, custom groups, or the entire team
- Hiring and onboarding tools with job description templates, digital new hire onboarding, and document storage tools
- HR and compliance functions that make it quick and easy to create policies and procedures and centralize staff information
- Workforce forecasting tools that help you make money-saving scheduling decisions
- A cash out feature that lets employees withdraw up to $400 of their wages
- A mobile app that empowers managers and employees and lets them manage everyday team tasks from anywhere
Pros and cons
👍 Free account includes scheduling and time tracking for up to 20 employees
👍 Takes a few minutes to set up
👍 Beginner-friendly with no learning curve
👍 Built-in payroll, compliance, and HR features help you avoid legal issues
👎 Not designed for large businesses and enterprises
👎 Can’t view multiple work locations at the same time
Homebase’s basic scheduling and time tracking tools are 100% free. Here’s a breakdown of all the plans we offer so you can make the best choice for your small business:
- Basic — Free for one location and up to 20 employees. It includes basic scheduling and time tracking and employee management tools like messaging, point-of-sale integrations, and access to email support.
- Essentials — $24.95 per month per location. Everything in Basic, plus payroll integrations, team communication, performance tracking, advanced time tracking and scheduling, and access to live support.
- Plus — $59.95 per month per location. Everything in Essentials, plus hiring tools, retention and performance tracking, time off controls, and departments and permissions.
- All-in-one — $99.95 per month per location. Everything in Plus, with HR and compliance, new hire onboarding, labor cost controls, and business insights.
Users can also save 20% when they sign up for an annual plan.
👍 Simplifies scheduling and team communication
👎 Shift-trading feature is difficult to use
👎 Doesn’t allow you to create rules for requesting time off
👎 Plans are expensive compared to competitors
7shifts offers free scheduling and time tracking for up to 30 employees. For more advanced features and larger teams, pricing starts at $29.99 per location per month.
3. HotSchedules: Best for labor forecasting
HotSchedules powered by Fourth is a restaurant and hospitality management platform with a suite of tools for inventory management, team operations, and scheduling. HotSchedules is Fourth’s dedicated team scheduling software, and it allows managers to create and share schedules with team members via the HotSchedules mobile app.
On its own, HotSchedules is a straightforward scheduling solution that any small business owner can use to create and publish employee timetables, although it lacks built-in time tracking tools. Combined with the other products available with Fourth’s platform, it’s probably best suited to larger restaurants and franchises.
- Employee scheduling with shift-swapping tools
- Access to Fourth’s integrated software for inventory management, labor costing, and applicant tracking
- Time off request management
- In-app messaging
- Analytics and reporting
Pros and cons
👍 Great for scheduling and labor forecasting
👍 User-friendly platform
👍 Useful shift swapping function
👎 No time tracking tools
👎 Set up can be challenging
HotSchedules pricing isn’t readily available.
4. Push Operations: Best for performance management
Push Operations is a people management platform that combines hiring and onboarding, payroll, HR tools, time tracking, and scheduling in one cloud-based platform. With its scheduling feature, platform administrators can set time off and shift swap request rules so managers don’t have to double-check the schedule before approving changes. Additionally, its payroll feature accommodates tax rules in both the USA and Canada, which is perfect for restaurant owners that want to open locations in both countries.
What makes it stand out is its hiring and onboarding feature, which allows you to monitor employee KPIs throughout their journey with your business. You can also track employee raises, promotions, and milestones, making it easier to identify workforce trends within your business.
- Applicant tracking software (ATS) that makes hiring and onboarding more efficient
- Payroll tools that handle your tax filings and withholdings for you
- Time tracking feature with built-in time theft prevention
- Scheduling tool that allows you to create shift swapping and time off rules
Pros and cons
👍 Intuitive platform that works well from any device
👍 Friendly, efficient customer service team
👍 Scheduling feature saves managers time
👎 Availability settings for scheduling can be complicated
Push’s pricing starts at $5 per employee per month.
5. Restaurant365: Best for managing business expenses
Restaurant365 is an accounting and operations platform that business owners can use to manage expenses, finances, inventory, and restaurant staff. Its team management platform — called R365 Workforce — provides hiring, onboarding, scheduling, and benefits administration, making it a great fit for established restaurants and franchises that are well-positioned to offer health insurance to their employees.
Its accounting software — R365 Accounting — lets you run in-depth menu item analysis, cash flow, profitability, and profit and loss reports so you can keep your restaurant as cost-efficient as possible.
- Employee scheduling feature with shift swapping tools
- Hiring and onboarding tools that allow you to grow your restaurant team
- Full-service payroll
- Accounting software that lets you monitor and control your business expenses
- In-depth analytics and reporting
Pros and cons
👍 Ideal for training managers on revenue and labor costs
👎 Not cost-effective for restaurants with small budgets
👎 Not time tracking tools
👎 Lacks communication tools for employees
Restaurant365 plans start at $435 per location per month, and users are billed quarterly.
6. Sling: Best for scheduling on a tight budget
Sling is an employee scheduling app that also incorporates features for time tracking, labor costing, team communication, and task management. Employees can use Sling’s mobile app to track time from any device, and the app also notifies them when it’s time to clock in and out. Team members can also communicate with each other within the app, and managers can send team-wide announcements to keep everyone updated.
With a free Sling plan, managers can create employee schedules for an unlimited number of employees and locations. That’s why Sling is a viable option for new restaurant owners looking for basic scheduling features on a tight budget.
- Mobile and kiosk-friendly time tracking that syncs with payroll
- Employee scheduling feature with shift swapping and template creation tools
- Task management tools that let you delegate tasks for every shift
- Communication app for easier employee messaging
- Labor costing tools to help you make better scheduling decisions
Pros and cons
👍 The free version works well and is easy to use
👍 Short learning curve for new employees
👍 Allows managers to quickly view who’s working
👎 Occasional bugs and glitches
👎 A few features can be hard to locate on the dashboard
👎 Chat notifications can be overwhelming and difficult to filter
Sling’s free plan offers basic scheduling and time off management tools for unlimited employees and locations. For more advanced features, pricing starts at $2 per user per month.
Turn up your team productivity with Homebase
Jolt can simplify your restaurant’s food safety and inventory management, but the right restaurant management platform shouldn’t make you sacrifice crucial team management tools in favor of other processes.
Whether you’re looking for integrated payroll, expert HR advice, or more intuitive scheduling tools, you’ve got options. If you’re looking for a tool that has more advanced tip-pooling features, you may prefer 7shifts. On the other hand, you may want to opt for a platform like HotSchedules that offers added labor forecasting functionality.
But if you’re looking for a flexible, all-in-one option for delegating all-consuming team management tasks, we recommend Homebase. With Homebase, scheduling and time tracking for employees is intuitive and simple — and free for up to 20 team members.
Plus, Homebase customers love how easy it is to start using our platform. It doesn’t require training, which is perfect for time-strapped business owners who need to get up and running fast.