The Best Restaurant Scheduling Tools That Will Save Your Sanity

Beata Grace Beatty

Beata Grace Beatty

Beata is a Florida-based freelance writer. When she’s not researching and pitching story ideas, she’s reading, walking on the beach, fiddling with home projects, and keeping up with her two daughters.

Managing your restaurant’s success begins with smarter employee scheduling. Failing to track your schedule using anything beyond pen and paper can leave your business vulnerable to avoidable overtime costs, legal risks (like when minors’ schedules don’t comply with federal/state labor laws), and understaffed work shifts.

With the right employee scheduling tool, you’ll always know who should be working and when, and in the event of a schedule conflict, you can arrange a shift swap in no time. Some of the best tools have free plans or at least a free trial you can sign up for before making a commitment. 

Cafe owner using a restaurant scheduling tool on a digital tablet

The top restaurant scheduling tools that will save your sanity

When I Work

With When I Work, you can build each employee’s work schedule using its drag-and-drop tool. And depending on your preference, you can start from scratch or use a pre-formatted template to save some time. 

There are also automated notifications you can set up, so your team is notified every time new shifts are created and updated, and you can also choose to share the schedule. When I Work has a free plan for companies up to 75 employees, making it easy to try it out. If you like it and want to save even more time, you can take advantage of one of its payroll integrations (Gusto, QuickBooks, ADP).

Sling 

Sling is a handy restaurant scheduling tool. Of course, you can create a schedule that makes it easy to see your workers’ availability and time-off requests, but you can also assign jobs/tasks to different people. You might need one person to clean the kitchen at the same time you need another to serve tables in two different sections of the restaurant.

Homebase 

Homebase has a drag-and-drop interface (similar to When I Work). It’s free for one location with unlimited employees, so as long as your restaurant isn’t a chain, you might find it works well for you. 

It’s a smart tool and recognizes your scheduling patterns, so it makes suggestions as to who might best fill an open position. It also has high visibility, meaning you can see an employee’s availability weeks prior. If you’re looking for scheduling tools with “extra” features, Homebase recently added job board posting to its services (still free) in case you need to fill an open position or replace an existing worker.

Schedule101

Like the other restaurant scheduling tools, Schedule101 allows you to create work schedules online, communicate with your employees and managers through messaging, etc. 

This tool also gives you access to weather forecasts, which could be useful if your restaurant is in a tropical location like Florida and receives a large amount of revenue from customers who prefer dining outside; when there’s a heavy rain prediction, you’ll know not to schedule the usual number of workers to tend to the patio customers. 

Deputy

With Deputy, you can schedule staff based on numerous criteria, including budget, availability, and training. Everything is done online or mobile, and it’s easy to send updated schedules to your team. Best of all, you can use Deputy for free, at least during the trial period.

One key feature that many Deputy users like is auto-scheduling. According to the information you enter, the software will minimize (if not eliminate) overtime by creating a more balanced schedule among all available workers. You can also set training requirements for certain jobs, and the auto-scheduler will comply with the rules when creating. It will also help ensure that everyone takes a break per the local laws your business must adhere to, minimizing your legal risks and potential penalties. 

Unlike some of the basic free tools you can use to track employee schedules, like Google Calendar, Microsoft Excel, Word, etc., these restaurant scheduling tools were designed with your needs in mind. The automation and predictive tools help to minimize the number of decisions you need to make, saving you money and time in the process. Not to mention, these software services have been around for a while, so you’ll find tons of reviews (both good and bad but generally positive) to help you decide which one is best for you.

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