Fresh Restaurants is Toronto’s original go-to source for modern plant-based food. From cold-pressed juice to craft cocktails, this unique restaurant operation has been providing Canadians with healthy and delicious alternatives for over 20 years.
Over 25 years ago, well before “vegan” was in everyone’s vocabulary, Ruth Tal burst onto the Toronto food scene with the launch of her first juice bar. Since then, Ruth and her partners have been at the forefront of the plant-based movement in Canada, serving up crave-worthy food and invigorating juices at our five bustling Toronto restaurant locations (and our sixth location that just opened in West Hollywood!).
What sets Fresh apart is that we didn’t jump on a trend. Our roots are strong, and we’re passionate about everything that we serve to our guests.Though we’re expanding at a quicker rate than ever before, Fresh’s vision continues to begin and end with great food and drinks, inspired service, and memorable experiences.
Fresh Restaurants has grown from one to six locations in its lifetime, and they’re far from finished. To streamline that growth, the Fresh team knew they needed to find a labor management solution that not only simplified their scheduling and communication, but also aligned with their company values. Plus, with their new expansion into the United States, they needed to ensure their operational and scheduling processes were fully labor compliant to avoid any fines.
This is how Fresh Restaurants leveraged 7shifts to schedule their 400 staff across all of their locations, grow their sales vs. labor hours (labor productivity) by 13%, and drop their labor cost by 12% in their first year chain-wide.
Searching for a user-friendly scheduling solution
Fresh Restaurants came to 7shifts at the end of 2018, when their existing scheduling tool had become a pain point in their growth rather than a solution—lacking the reporting functionality, user-friendly interface, and communication features they needed to scale. Fresh knew they had to find a new scheduling solution that suited their needs.
Their main goal was to find a new scheduling system that:
- Simplified their scheduling and communication practices
- Was accessible to all members of their team through mobile devices
- Generated the robust sales and labor reports they needed, and
- Helped facilitate staff availability management and shift-swapping
When they adopted 7shifts in late 2018, they knew they had found a solution that worked for them and their growing team.
Other services that we’ve used in the past haven’t been as user-friendly. It was difficult to export
the reports and to make changes when needed. 7shifts makes it easy.
Simplifying scheduling for Fresh Restaurants 🗓️
The Fresh management team uses 7shifts’ easy drag-and-drop schedule builder to schedule their 400 staff across their 6 locations, which can be a daunting task.
There are many factors that come into play with scheduling a restaurant—not only how many staff you’ll need to serve the guests, but also who has time off, what each staff can work through the week, and any upcoming events in the restaurant to plan for. 7shifts provided Fresh with the tools they needed to plan ahead to build labor-perfect schedules.
- Fresh employees submit their time-off and availability through the free mobile app for managers to approve. Fresh staff submitted over 3,000 time-off requests in 2019, so staff are only scheduled for shifts they can work.
- If an employee can’t work an upcoming shift, they can offer them up in the Shift Pool and other team members can bid on them to get extra hours. In September of 2019 alone, Fresh staff swapped over 550 shifts—if management had to coordinate shift changes through paper and pen, this could have meant hours spent on communication and schedule updates.
- To ensure their restaurant is properly staffed for local event crowds, Fresh used Events in 7shifts. Fresh plans for nearly 20 events every month, from concerts and festivals to sporting events. By tracking the events in 7shifts, managers can assign extra shifts to ensure their clients get the same high-quality of service.
How perfect staff schedules reduced Fresh’s labor cost by 12%
Perfect scheduling means that your restaurant is never over- or under-staffed. While planning events, time-off requests, and availability ahead of time helps make more optimal schedules, it’s hard to predict what the future will hold—if you don’t have the right tools. That’s why 7shifts integrates with dozens of leading POS systems to help restaurants predict their future sales to schedule more efficiently.
By integrating their Micros POS, sales and labor data was automatically synced between the systems to forecast sales, generate reports, and allow for more optimal staff scheduling at Fresh. Additionally, their integration allowed them to enforce staff schedules, which eliminated un-budgeted labor hours and time theft.
Sales were forecast for Fresh at 95% accuracy, which allowed managers to accurately assess their labor needs for the week and schedule staff accordingly. By using the Labor Budget tool, which itself had a 95% accuracy rate, adding shifts to the schedule would show managers how far off they were from their labor target.
One major benefit of 7shifts is that our managers no longer have to manually calculate projections. Our managers are very busy running our restaurants, and it’s great that they no longer have to pull a year’s worth of sales data and then calculate it themselves. Projections are extremely important, but are also historically time consuming. 7shifts does these calculations for them, and we’re still surprised at how accurate they are—oftentimes within $15!
With projects automatically generated, managers are able to build schedules that not only meet their labor targets, but factor in overtime, availability, and time-off to reduce their labor cost percentage overall.
Over their first 8 months with 7shifts, Fresh Restaurants reduced their labor cost by 12%—by 3.5 percentage points across all locations.
Due to their more efficient schedules built with 7shifts’ labor budgeting tool, Fresh’s labor productivity (sales per labor hour) grew by 13%.
3 ways Fresh streamlined team communication with 7shifts 💬
Communication is huge for restaurants, yet many businesses rely on juggling calls and texts or even using personal third-party apps like WhatsApp or Facebook messenger to communicate with their team. 7shifts offers a variety of built-in communication tools like chats, Announcements, employee requests, and a Manager Log Book to help centralize communication and improve restaurant efficiency.
Here’s how Fresh revolutionized their team communication with 7shifts.
1. Staying connected with their team with Chats and Announcements
The Fresh team keeps their 400-person staff connected with 7shifts’ built-in communication tools like Chat and Announcements. Each Fresh location sends 70+ chats per month to their staff in direct and group messages, and makes 56 company-wide Announcements every month to keep their team in-the-know about things like schedule changes, new hires, and staff events.
2. Keeping management in-sync with the Manager Log Book
Fresh uses the Manager Log Book to keep their entire management team—from GMs to lead bartenders—up-to-speed with the daily operations of each location. In fact, each Fresh Restaurant location makes over 10 log book entries per day, which would be a lot to stay on top of through texts or extensive email threads.
Something we’ve definitely used a lot is our manager log book. It’s very important. It has helped our managers communicate with each other. Different roles like middle managers, supervisors, lead bartenders, assistant kitchen managers, etc. are able to reflect more easily on that day, which makes communication much easier for everyone on the team.
2. Planning ahead with shift swaps and time-off requests
Fresh staff were empowered with free mobile apps to help them stay on top of their schedules—easily submitting time-off, availability, and shift swap requests through the app for managers to approve. Fresh staff submitted over 3,000 time-off requests in 2019, and swapped over 550 shifts in September alone.
Before 7shifts, communication and shift trading was done through a private Facebook group, which introduced a number of issues.
Our staff didn’t have a centralized place to switch shifts or anything. Somebody made a Facebook group, which then is a liability for a restaurant in that none of the managers were actually in it, so it was an employee-only Facebook group. Staff were communicating through other, third-party messaging tools rather than something that managers use and have visibility and a certain degree of control over.
7shifts has provided a centralized place for our staff to communicate, which is great for when
someone needs to arrange switching shifts with a coworker. Before 7shifts, staff would message each other via text or Facebook message and it definitely wasn’t as streamlined and easy for them. It’s also nice for our managers to have visibility and approval of shift swaps, so they’re aware of the shift change as soon as their staff organizes it.
Improve your labor management like Fresh 🌱
Finding the perfect scheduling balance for Fresh allowed them to streamline their operations and reduce admin work so they could get back to doing what they loved—providing a unique experience and refreshing food and drinks to their diners.
7shifts has made the work experience of all Fresh employees significantly easier thanks to their streamlined and effective tools and systems. From simplified scheduling to chat and communication functions, we're proud of the changes we've seen over the last year thanks to 7shifts. If your team wants to reduce their labor costs or just start working towards a more efficient method of employee management, I highly recommend you try 7shifts as well!
Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a national chain, you can simplify life at your restaurants like Fresh did with 7shifts. Put pen and paper in the past with 7shifts’ robust labor management software for scheduling, communication, time clocking, and compliance. Get started for free today—no risk, no credit card required. Start my free trial