How Top Multi-Unit Restaurants are Using Tech to Grow

How Top Multi-Unit Restaurants are Using Tech to Grow
D. J. Costantino

By D. J. Costantino

Leading multi-unit restaurant brands are using technology to scale. Discover how a few are using 7shifts to manage scheduling and communication.

Having many restaurants to manage is a pretty good problem to have. It means that guests love what you're offering enough to support your growth. You get to serve more people your brand of hospitality, and provide more people with jobs and careers.

But there are challenges that come with that growth. A consistent guest experience. Managing dozens (if not hundreds) of team members. And that's the tip of the iceberg for multi-unit restaurant management.

It's hard, but it's possible—with the right tools. Modern restaurant technology can cut the guesswork, from store-level to corporate, and makes growth the only option.

Real, market-leading multi-unit brands are scaling fast with technology like 7shifts. Here's how:

Easy to use scheduling that save managers time and money

Before she was Pita Way's director of operations, Holly Megges was a store manager at one of Pita Way's 13 locations. During those days, she would make her store's schedule on an iPad—a step above the pen and paper many still use. But, when she began to oversee every location, bigger scheduling questions bubbled up.

“I began to ask myself, “Are [store managers] scheduling effectively? Are [store managers] even concerned about what their labor is? And [7shifts] became a way to watch everybody and see what they were doing and if they needed help,” says Megges.

Pita Way turned to 7shifts platform to manage their team of 100+ employees.

And it proved essential in the early stages of the pandemic. Many locations shut down, and staff shuffled among them. 7shifts allowed Megges to see who was available and gave a real-time view of the brand's labor situation.

“I wouldn't even know where to start. I have a hundred employees. I can't just call every general manager and be like, Hey, you got anybody for me?” says Megges.

Each location reduced labor cost from an average of 32% in Jan 2020 to 23% as of April 2021, due in part to more efficient schedules.

It's this level of transparency and efficiency that Mike Bausch, the owner of Andolini's in Tulsa calls 7shifts' “secret sauce.”

“We can plan out the week and not double-dip on a person,” says Bausch. “And a lot of that stuff was happening, it doesn't happen anymore.”

It's a similar story at the Human Bean—the 300+ location chain based in Oregon. The fast-growing brand required a labor management platform that balanced ease-of-use for employees, analytics and insights for the management team. Not to mention something that could be rolled out and adopted by individual stores.

7shifts scheduling software and tools helps drive consistency in scheduling across their business.

“It's all there,” explained Kim Jackson, District Manager and Franchise Trainer for The Human Bean. "It's with sales. It's with the schedule, and allows you to focus on your business.”

When store-level operations are simplified, as are the entire brand's. Corporate leaders can focus on new locations and growth, while franchise operators and individual managers keep the business running smoothly on the ground.

Human Bean Quote about multi unit restaurant management

Powerful forecasting tools to help hit labor targets

Beyond saving time, scheduling software helps multi-unit operators save money, too. When integrated with point-of-sale systems, it can make schedules smarter. This empowers restaurants to leverage sales projections and never be over- or under-staffed.

The team at Toronto's Fresh restaurants uses forecasted sales and labor hours to cut labor costs by 12%.

7shifts forecasts sales for Fresh to 95% accuracy, which allows managers across many locations to schedule more efficiently. The platform's Labor Budget tool shows managers if they're over or under target while they make the schedule. This is a game changer when it comes to multi-unit restaurant management, where sales forecasting can be incredibly time consuming.

“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!” says Tory Halpin at Fresh.

Another team that schedules based on forecasting is Kaldi's Coffee—a 13 location coffee chain based in St. Louis.

“The projection tool down at the bottom of the schedules is very, very convenient, and it's just gotten better and better over the years,” says Keith Kildron, Kaldi's VP of Operations.

The team has been able to keep an average labor cost percentage between 20-26%. Even when some locations shut down in early 2020, the numbers have stayed consistent. Kaldi's has also been able to keep sales per labor hour in the $43-55 range, with no drop off throughout the pandemic.

Jillian Methvin, who oversees 7 of Kaldi's units, lets the software help focus their attention. “At a quick glance, I can easily see what days I need to go back and check on,” says Methvin.

The Human Bean uses predictive analytics to great effect, too. It helped them stay consistent on their labor targets through the early stages of the pandemic:

“With 7shifts, our managers have improved the way they schedule since it predicts sales for the schedule they are making,” said a Director of Operations with a large franchisee of The Human Bean.

“It makes switching shifts, getting shifts covered, entering in requests off, and availability with the baristas so much easier on the baristas and the managers.”

Clear communication for better multi-unit restaurant management

The team at Fresh used to have a Facebook group for their team to do shift swapping—with no manager involvement. This is a liability for a multi-unit group, and leaves managers unable to manage.

Now, the team of more than 400 stays connected on 7shifts mobile app. Mobile tools empower restaurant employees with a centralized place to swap shifts (with manager approval), submit time-off requests, and offer shifts up to the shift pool.

The communication tools also include team chat and announcements, where leaders can send one way blasts to their entire team. With read receipts, they can see who has and hasn't read them.

“So whether it's a goofy, 'Hey, everyone's done great this week,' or it's legally necessary material that I need to get out, I have a way to do that instantly,” says Mike Bausch, owner at Andolini's.

The Pita Way team use announcements to maintain a great guest experience with photo and video announcements. For example, if a dish on the menu is being portioned inconsistently, the team sends out an announcement with a photo to all staff. This makes sure the Pita Way experience is the same at every location.

Want to learn more?

These are a few of the 22,000 restaurants that are using 7shifts to simplify team management, boost retention, and grow their businesses.

To learn about how 7shifts can help your multi-unit restaurant brand, book a demo with one of our pros today.

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7shifts is the all-in-one labor platform built for restaurants to simplify employee scheduling and labor management. Easily manage your teams’ schedules, timesheets, communication, tasks, tips and more– all in one place with 7shifts.

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D. J. Costantino
D. J. Costantino

Hi! I'm D.J., 7shifts' resident Content Writer. I come from a family of chefs and a background in food journalism. I'm always looking for ways to help make the restaurant industry better!