Patio season is upon us—and it looks a bit different than years’ past. Tables on the sidewalk. Sidewalk structures. For some restaurants, it’s been a lifeline during the pandemic—the only way to make payroll each week. For some, it’s been a way to improve and bolster their business. But what’s undeniable is that moving tables outside creates new obstacles and challenges to the already complex life of a restaurateur or worker. The warm weather is upon us, and with longer days, successful vaccinations, and customers spending more time outdoors, restaurant sales across the country rose 20% in April.
It’s also important to note that using outdoor space and adding more seating to your restaurant can increase your revenue by 30%. Here’s how 7shifts labor management platform can help you turn your best summer yet.
1. Staff up with unlimited users, roles, and departments.
The addition of patio seating—be it in a garden behind the restaurant or in the street out in front—means more tables to touch. If you are staffing up for the season, 7shifts’ Works plan has no limit on the number of employees you can add. You can also create as many roles and departments as you’d like. Add indoor and outdoor servers, dedicate a busser to just patio tables, or even create a department for your outdoor bar. Many scheduling platforms charge for every employee that you add, which drive up costs in the summer. With 7shifts, add or remove team members at no extra cost.
If you’re not hiring for just the patio, all 7shifts plans come with the open shifts feature. Create patio shifts without an assigned team member, so any existing staff can take on shifts to make sure you’re ready for the weekend patio crowd.
2. Weather forecasting
Planning for outdoor dining is made a bit more complicated by the weather. When you build your schedule, 7shifts automatically pulls in local forecast data on your calendar—so you know when to staff up and make extra iced coffee, or when you need more hands inside. Never again will you have five servers staring at the downpour and a kitchen with no tickets.
3. Custom Stations
Patio seating, extra bars, or tables in the street can feel like you’re running more than one restaurant at the same time. 7shifts allows you to easily set up stations for your team members and assign their roles. You can even give them custom names. Some examples of stations may be:
- Dining Room
- Back Patio
- Side Patio
- Outdoor Bar
Employee A can be assigned to the Bartender Role, Outdoor Bar, and Employee B can be assigned to the Bartender Role, Dining Room. When they log into their 7shifts app (included on all plans at no extra cost), it will display which section or station they are assigned to. No more confusion when they arrive for their shift.
4. Department-based budgeting
When you integrate 7shifts with one of our many industry-leading restaurant-specific POS partners, you can use your sales data to make more accurate projections for the staff you’ll need. With overall and department-based budgeting in 7shifts, and you can forecast sales and labor needs separately for patio departments, open street dining, and more. This will give you unparalleled accuracy in making sure you hit your labor targets, even with the added complexity of outdoor dining.
In addition to the weather forecasts, 7shifts allows you to create custom events if every Wednesday is “Wing Night” on the patio with 50 cent wings, you can add that to everyone’s calendar so it doesn’t get forgotten. Events can be anything from holidays to “Bottomless Brunch” to a big reservation. This added layer of communication and accountability among your team can help stay on top of things and focus on providing the best experience possible for everyone.
6. 7tasks Task Management
Patio seating adds a number of new challenges to the daily restaurant flow. 7tasks task management software can help you keep track of everything that needs to get done with separate task lists for departments, roles, and stations. Add checklists for sanitary protocols, patio maintenance, and anything else that comes up as core parts of your business change.
7. Manager Log Book
Managers get a communication upgrade, too. Manager Log Books allows your managers to add custom notes at the end of every shift, track sales and labor, and stay in sync with everything going on, inside and outside of the restaurant. You can slo use it to avoid burnout during the busiest season by identifying problems and trends & gathering staff feedback.
8. Mobile Time Clocking
With the 7punches Time Clocking app, employees can clock in and out of shifts and breaks right from their phones. They can also check off tasks, too, eliminating the need for everyone to punch in at a central location. This keeps the flow of employee traffic to a minimum, and reduces a point of physical content for many.
Closing Thoughts: 8 Ways 7shifts Can Help You Crush Patio Season
All of these tools, as well as the rest of the 7shifts labor management platform, can help make this patio season the best it can be. And after you close up for the season, it all stays inside 7shifts—ready to be activated once the weather turns warm again.
7shifts is a team management software designed for restaurants. We help managers and operators spend less time and effort scheduling their staff, reduce their monthly labor costs and improve team communication. The result is simplified team management, one shift at a time.
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D. J. Costantino
Hi! I'm D.J., 7shifts' resident Content Writer. I come from a family of chefs and have a background in food journalism. I'm always looking for ways to help make the restaurant industry better!