Would you like to visit a Fourth regional site closer to you?

Auto-Scheduling – the key to optimal shift patterns

By Sebastien Sepierre|Nov 30, 2023|2:03 pm GMT

Drawing up the staff schedule can feel a bit like alchemy, a delicate balance of who’s available, who needs hours, who last worked when and how much revenue you expect to take. As time consuming as that juggling act might be, it’s vitally important – overstaffing inflates operational costs, while understaffing prohibits sales.

What is Auto-Scheduling?

Auto-Scheduling is a shift generation tool that ensures businesses get the balance between profit and people right.

Powered by AI forecasts, Auto-Scheduling reliably predicts expected revenue and uses that information to build out an optimal shift pattern. This allows restaurant managers and operators to see exactly how many people they need at any given time of the week.  Its a cornerstone of Fourth’s Intelligent Scheduling solution.

Making Auto-Scheduling work for your restaurant

Auto-Scheduling is set up to accommodate individual nuances at every venue within your business, assessing a number of metrics and settings established for each location, enabling you to tailor staff schedules to meet peak times without risking overstaffing once things quieten down.

That understanding of nuance extends to the labour requirements of specific items relative to revenue, as well. For example, serving one bottle of champagne might generate the same revenue as 100 soft drink sales, but the labour requirement to serve the champagne is far less. By establishing classifications for items, restaurants can use Auto-Scheduling tools to consider item-level demand, meaning there is a more accurate understanding of what labour is actually required to meet revenue forecasts.

Auto-Scheduling vs Autonomous Scheduling

The purpose of an Auto Scheduler is not to kick out a complete staff schedule. Instead, it automatically analyses a range of data sources to generate an optimum shift pattern, balancing labour spend to profitably meet demand. Managers can see exactly what assumptions have been made – such as the revenue forecast for each area of the business on a given day – and tweak these in real time if they need to include local knowledge the model may be unaware of, such as an event or temporary parking restrictions.

This streamlines the scheduling process for managers while allowing them to maintain complete control, unlike autonomous scheduling which automatically generates schedules and assigns individuals. Once managers are confident of the recommendations, they can proceed to building the schedule. Auto Scheduler automatically shows which staff are available for each shift so managers can quickly assign them. This dramatically reduces the time it takes to build out a schedule, while increasing the efficiency of labour deployment.

Auto-Scheduling for restaurant chains

Since local managers maintain complete control, this technology works particularly well for operators with sites in a range of locations. Auto-Scheduling rules – such as the maximum shift lengths, or last shift start times – can be adjusted to suit each location. Similarly, different rules can be applied to each area of the business within that venue, whether that is front or back-of-house, or management.

Rules are also easily adapted to account for changes. For example, a restaurant that introduces a special Christmas set menu in December may find it requires more time for the kitchen to produce than the standard menu. Failing to account for this could impact service and affect sales and customer satisfaction. But by establishing this Christmas buffet as a separate item with labour rules distinct from other areas of the business, Auto Schedulers can predict demand for the buffet and ensure there are enough staff available to cover it, without risking overstaffing at a busy time of year.

An easier working

In essence, Auto-Scheduling is all about making life easier for restaurant managers. Saving them time and effort, while increasing the precision and consistency with which they create shifts.  It balances the benefits of automation with allowing managers to maintain control.  We believe this is the ideal recipe for delivering a tangible uplift to how restaurant shifts are scheduled, while decreasing the strain on managers.

Auto-Scheduling is one of three powerful new core capabilities that form Intelligent Scheduling. Learn more on Intelligent Scheduling from Fourth.

Our team would love to hear from you

Give us a call today +44 (0) 207 534 3700, or click the button below.