How to Determine What Staff You Need


Whether opening a restaurant for the first time, or simply hiring due to employee turnover, be prepared to keep constant tabs on your staffing needs. In the restaurant industry, a manager often needs to hire for the same position more than once. Learn to determine which positions you need to successfully run the business in order to find and keep the best staff members.

Know Your Staffing Needs

If you are opening a restaurant for the first time, you will need to determine your staffing needs with as much accuracy as possible. Even if you have been running your business for a while and need to hire again, consider the following first:

  • The type of restaurant you run (fine dining, casual dining, fast food).
  • The type of food service you offer (deli-style, buffet-style, fine-dining).
  • The type of food on your menu—this determines what you need to cook and which kitchen stations you require.
  • The number of tables or seats available in your restaurant–this determines the number of servers you will need.

After you operate the restaurant for a while, you will begin to see the shifts and trends in daily and weekly business, and you will get a feel for which people, and how many people, you will need for each part of the day.

Determine the Critical Positions for Your Operation

Know your concept before determining what position you will need to fill. For instance, a fine dining restaurant needs a chef and a sous chef to start. However, a fast-food drive-thru will need a drive-thru order taker and fry-cooks. Additionally, consider the positions that will have direct contact with customers or guests. Hiring friendly and engaging people will help define the face of your operation and deliver the memorable customer experience you want. Learn more about roles in the restaurant »

Determine How Many Employees to Hire

Before hiring, be sure to consider the number of employees you should bring on. It helps to start out with a few more employees than necessary in case some staff members do not work out. At the same time, make certain that your annual budget can accommodate the number of people you are looking to hire. Essentially, consider the following guidelines:

  • Assess the number of tables, seats or service stations. The number of tables you expect to serve will help determine the number of servers you need on staff.
  • Consider the layout of the kitchen and different kitchen stations. The layout of your kitchen and the cooking stations affect the number of line cooks or kitchen staff you require.
  • Consider your busiest times first. Make sure your busiest times, typically lunch and dinner, are adequately staffed. For instance, you might need to staff more people from 11am-1pm than you would in early morning hours.
  • Stay within the means of your budget. Your budget will not only determine how much you can afford to pay your employees, but how many employees you can have working at any given time to keep your labor cost down.

Use a Sales and Guest Projection Chart

A staff chart is helpful when determining how many employees to schedule. The chart below shows the number of guests anticipated each hour, as well as the projected sales the restaurant achieve each hour. This information determines the number of staff members needed per hour as well. You can organize your chart by number of expected tables if you do not know the expected hourly guest number. Be sure to consider your restaurant type, service style and layout when designing your chart, keeping your operating efficiency and customer service as the priority.

Manage Your Labor Cost

When you begin to hire or bring on more people, labor cost is a concern. Complete a comprehensive staffing schedule for all the staff you anticipate needing in your establishment. Cover all of your busy times and think about staffing according to the Sales and Guest Projection Chart.

For instance, you decide that you will need about four servers scheduled during the lunch hour. After you determine the average hourly wage for each position, you can simply multiply the average hourly wage by the hours required on your schedule. This is your labor cost. Compare this number with your operating budget, and make sure the labor cost does not displace profits. This will help you control your labor expenses. Learn more about how to control restaurant labor costs.

Find the Right People

Once you have considered your budget, the positions your restaurant needs, and how many people to hire, the real search begins. With a plan in place, you can focus on finding the right people for your operation and watch it become successful right before your eyes. Learn more about how to find the right restaurant employees.


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