Hugo's has been a West Hollywood staple since 1980, and recently expanded with a new location just over the hill in Studio City.
A legacy institution, the management team at Hugo's West Hollywood and Hugo's Studio City was looking for ways to modernize their operations. They started by adopting a cloud-based point of sale in Toast, and added 7shifts to aid in managing their growing team.
We spoke with Jason Elmassian, general manager of Hugo's Studio City, to learn about how 7shifts has changed their business.
Hugo's opened when bookkeeping was done in physical books. Pen and paper was the way—and some of the operations and policies "had to be updated to the 20th century, not even just the 21st," says Elmassian.
Hugo's is also a business that employs performers and artists who may need to cover a shift at the drop of a hat to catch an audition. Hugo's was looking for a tool that would work with their newly adopted Toast POS, as well as give them more power to track labor and schedule their expanding team.
Saving time with more efficient schedules—a win-win
With 7shifts, Hugo's is able to save three to four hours every week just from scheduling—at each location. That's eight hours back a week, an entire shift that managers can spend working with their team and guests instead of in the back office.
And not only do those schedules take less time—they're also more efficient. Elmassian is able to use data from 7shifts and their integrated Toast POS to compare projections versus actual labor costs.
Hugo's found a 12% decrease in labor spend and a 21% increase in labor productivity after the first year using 7shifts.Their labor spend has been consistently under 27% every quarter.
"I do get the projections versus actuals, and last year to this year labor is down and sales are up. So we're finding more efficient ways to utilize people," says Elmassian.
Managing complex employee schedules with ease
The nature of restaurant work has always been attractive to performers, and Hugo's is no exception. Their vibrant staff is full of actors, singers, writers, comedians, and more. When one has an audition or gets a callback, they may only have a few hours notice to get a shift covered—but using 7shifts has made it simple.
"I just get a message, "Hey, I'm swapping shifts'. I hit accept or decline, and that's it. That's the end of it for me. It's wonderful. It's super nice. I cannot stress enough how much time I save not micromanaging people's schedules and their shifts," says Elmassian.
Hugo's averages 27 shift swaps across both locations each month, with managers like Elmassian approving 95% of all requests.
AM to PM communication
With 7shifts' team messaging tools, Hugo's has seen an 81% increase in chat engagement amongst staff. Managers are also using the role-specific messaging features to update specific groups of employees, as well as the announcements feature, which allows leadership to share critical updates with the whole staff and see who has read them. Hugo's management team shares an average of 16 announcements each month, right into the pockets of each employee.
In addition to the chat and announcements features, Hugo's team uses 7shifts' Manager Log Book as a daily log to keep track of sales numbers for the day. The management team also adds a few more points of context:
- Weather reports
- Customer complaints
- Maintenance issues
- Employee issues
"That comes in very handy because it keeps an accurate log," says Elmassian.
For example, he may see that an employee was mentioned a few times for the same issue and look to set up a meeting. In the past, it would have been a "game of telephone" between managers. Collectively, Hugo's managers are completing an average of 563 entries in their manager log book every month, streamlining communication amongst leaders on important restaurant details on both a daily and weekly basis.
As Elmassian says, "It makes it efficient and very easy to follow and do my job."
Jason Elmassian is an industry veteran. When it comes to software he's used "pretty much everything under the sun." Out of all of them, he found that 7shifts stands out:
"Really, none of it is as easy as 7shifts. It gives us the ability to point out any conflicts and any overtime [hours] easily. That's time that I don't have to spend manually figuring everything out, and that's more time I can be doing the actual helpful parts of my job."
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