3 Ways Restaurants Can Keep it Business as Usual During Back-to-School Season

See how menu, purchasing, and inventory excellence drives profitability.


Summer has wound down and most students are already back to school, meaning many restaurants around the country are replacing summer employees or adjusting their staff levels as sales volumes shift. The restaurant industry is the largest employer of teenagers, as one third of all working minors in the U.S. are employed at a restaurant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, the industry employs a large number of students — census data shows that roughly 27% of restaurant employees are currently enrolled in school, versus just 11% of the nation’s labor force.

And because so many young people work in restaurants the end of summer can be a chaotic stretch for owners and managers. If your business employs a lot of students, a large swath of your staff could either be leaving until next summer or moving to limited availability throughout the week. So, how do you manage that shift without your profit margins taking a hit? Let’s investigate.

1. Manage Your Minors!

When dealing with young employees, the first place any restaurant owner or manager should start is with compliance. Minors account for roughly 30% of the hospitality workforce — restaurant work is a top for choice for a teen’s first job, but there are rules to managing minors and costly fines if your business fails to comply. Compliance can be easily managed through restaurant employee scheduling software that gives administrators the ability to configure minor rules specific to the state in which your business operates.

Consider a solution that lets you add local school calendars to your schedules so that your store-level managers can schedule around your younger workers’ legal availability. You can also receive labor warnings to prevent any violations (and the fines that come with them). Minors are a valuable part of every restaurant’s staff, whether it’s during the school year or summer vacation — that’s why it’s vital to use tools that can fully leverage their availability and help you avoid breaking the rules. We can all agree that we’d like to avoid angry phone calls from parents, let alone visits from the Department of Labor.

2. Be Considerate of Employees’ Schedules

Do you have employees who just went back to college? If so, it’s worth it for your managers to be cognizant of employees’ school schedules. Restaurant employee scheduling software can help facilitate that, especially a mobile app-based solution that allows employees to make schedule requests and shift changes. A scheduling app helps your managers establish standard procedures that your employees can follow, so they get the necessary time off and it’s fair for everybody.

An employee scheduling solution also empowers your workforce to do most of the legwork themselves. Does one of your servers have early morning class on Monday? An employee scheduling app gives them the ability to initiate a shift swap for their closing shift the Sunday before. That way, they can get a good night’s sleep before school. With a scheduling solution, that team member can simply request a shift swap, and your manager just has to make the approval once the system checks that the swap won’t impact the business or the overtime hours.

3. Capitalize on Your Team’s Network

It’s natural to have your staff come and go when they go back to school. It’s also important to keep your business staffed for the forecasted business.That doesn’t mean your manager can’t ask them for candidate recommendations!  If you have an all-star employee who can’t return because of school duties, find out if they have any all-star friends who want to come work for you. Studies show that internal referrals are more likely to stay at a company longer than candidates found on job boards or at career fairs.

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