How to Make a Restaurant Work Schedule (with Free Excel Template)

How to Make a Restaurant Work Schedule (with Free Excel Template)
Amanda McCorquodale

By Amanda McCorquodale

Maybe it's the end of a long week of hustling in the weeds and you've finally found a minute to do next week's schedule. Or maybe you're looking for a fresh start with your Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet schedule and need a template to customize.

Either way, if you're reading this, you're looking to make magic happen by crafting the next ultimate  work schedule for your staff of dozens of restaurant employees. For the uninitiated, this task may seem as daunting as landing an airplane.

Just consider all the moving parts: each employee’s availability, labor budget, shift staffing needs, special event considerations, labor compliance regulations – we could go on. Not to worry, we have some flying lessons for you.

To make sense of the madness, let's enlist the power the Microsoft Office software Excel to dive in, set up, assign and track your work schedule for the coming weeks.

Restaurant Work Schedule Template Walkthrough

We’ve even crafted a template  which you can edit and customize to match the number and type of employees you are scheduling and the kind of shifts you’ve chosen to cover your restaurant operation. (If you need more info on how to choose the best shifts for your operation, read our guide here.)

The completed scheduled can then be emailed to all employees or printed out for reference. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. If this is your first time creating a shift schedule with an Excel template, follow our step-by-step guide below to learn where and how to enter the right data in the right spot.

First things first, download and open our restaurant shift schedule Excel template:

Get the template

Customizing the Schedule Tab

1. Customize the spreadsheet by entering your restaurant name and the week you are scheduling in the upper left corner.

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2. Add the correct dates and days of the week for the seven days in Row 6 of the spreadsheet.

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3. Next add your employees’ names in the first column, replacing Employee 1, Employee 2, etc. under the appropriate category of Manager, Server, etc.

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4. If you have less employees than are currently in the table, right-click the unwanted row and choose ‘Delete’ and then ‘Entire row.’ Click ‘Ok.’

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5. If you have more employees than currently in the table, right-click a row and choose “Insert” and then ‘Entire row.’ Click ‘Ok.’

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6. Finally, for each section of type of employee category, enter the number of managers, servers, hosts, etc. you will need on that day in the row above the list of employee names.

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Customizing the Shifts Tab

7. Click the “Shifts” tab on the bottom to work on the next worksheet in the template.

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8. Change the Start and End Time of each shift to match your operation’s shifts. Only change the start and end time in columns B and C, and the Shift column will automatically update. Make sure to use ‘am’ or ‘pm’ in the start and end times.

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8a. If you have less shifts than currently in the table, right-click the row and choose ‘Delete’ and then ‘Entire row.’ Click ‘Ok.’

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8b. If you have more shifts than currently in the table, right-click a row and choose “Insert” and then ‘Entire row.’ Click ‘Ok.’ Only add new rows below the first entry and above the last entry.

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9. In the second table, make sure the Roles accurately reflect those of your operation.

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10. If you have less roles than currently in the tables, right-click the row and choose “Delete” and then “Entire row.” Click “Ok.”

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11. If you have more roles than currently in the Roles table, right-click a row and choose “Insert” and then “Entire row.” Click “Ok.” Only add new rows below the first entry and above the last entry.

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Creating Your Schedule

12. Click on the ‘Work Schedule’ tab on the bottom of the worksheet.

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13. For each day, select the shift from the drop-down menu for each employee. To do this, click on the top half of the cell and click the arrow that appears next to the cell. If an employee is not working on that date, make sure you select ‘OFF.’

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14. Next assign a role to the employee during that day’s shift. To do this, click on the bottom half of the cell, click on the arrow, and choose the correct role.

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15. Select a shift and role for each employee for each of the 7 days.

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16. If there is a special event scheduled for that week, enter it in Row 7 of the table.

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8 Ways To Innovate Spreadsheet Scheduling

The truth is that shift work scheduling – even with a handy template and step-by-step guide – is functional, but cumbersome, and time-consuming. That’s why entire companies are dedicated to building innovative software that takes the pain, confusion, and unnecessary hours out of creating and maintaining shift schedules.

Not only will scheduling software automate many of your pesky daily and weekly scheduling tasks, it will  improve how you schedule and could ultimately save your operation $2,000 a month in labor costs.

Here are 8 ways scheduling software like 7shifts can make your life easier, and take you from functional to innovative scheduling:

1. Take Back Your Time

A task that may take 10 hours when entering the information by hand or on a spreadsheet may only take two hours with dedicated scheduling software. Scheduling software automates tedious tasks, drastically reduced manual entry errors, empowers staff to take charge of their own availability, and tracks necessary data in real-time.

2. Streamline Time-Off Requests

If you’re using an Excel schedule, how are employees’ request for time-off coming in? How are you handling amending the schedule?

With scheduling software, employees can use a phone app to make time-off requests, as well as submit their weekly availability. Managers get notified via their app (phone or desktop) and can approve or deny requests at their convenience and adjust their schedules in-real time.

3. Dead-Simple Shift Swaps

Staff can use the scheduling software apps to chat about swapping shifts. Once they've reached an agreement, they can enter the proposed shift swap into the app, and wait for manager approvals.

No more hunting down people to see who’s available to cover this or that shift, and no more broken telephone, no call-no shows. You can also use scheduling apps to create shift pool giving staff a chance to bid on any available, unassigned shifts.

4. Group Chats & Reminders

Say you’ve created a stellar Excel shift schedule only to find out the day you are short staffed, that your patio server never got the email or didn’t see the new schedule posted in the office. Scheduling software gives all staff access to the up-to-date schedule at any time via the app. They can also use the app to chat with each other or their manager.

Some scheduling apps (like 7shifts) even send employees a notification 15 minutes after their shift ends to leave the manager feedback about their shift experience. Managers can in turn message all employees, and can even create groups (day shift, night shift, etc.) to share and receive updates and questions or just bond and connect as a team.

5. Precision Labor Forecasting

Software like 7shifts can integrate directly your point-of-sale (POS) system. This means actual, real-time sales data will be used to predict the optimal number of hours and shifts you'll need to plan for to stay in the black.

6. Stick to Your Budget

Say you’ve set your labor budget target to 18% of your total operating costs. When you create a schedule using scheduling software, a weekly budget tool shows in real-time if you are over or under your set target for labor costs as you assign shifts for the week.

This prevents the time-consuming and tedious (but necessary) process of reviewing weeks of past labor spending spreadsheets to try and catch the source of overspending after it’s already happened.

7. Always Be Prepared

Scheduling software automatically grabs and uses your location to populate the weather forecast for each day of a new work schedule. That way, you get a visual reminder that your location is due for a bad snow storm, for instance, which can impact business and may mean you need fewer servers that day.

8. Stop Labor Violations

Something an Excel template will never tell you is whether your employees are going into overtime in their hours or working too long without taking a mandated break – as some regulatory bodies in certain states mandate. Such an oversight could mean hefty violation fines.

But with scheduling software, managers are cautioned about potential violations before they happen, as they make changes to the schedule, and get notifications of how much that violation could cost the operation in fines.

The Bottom Line

If scheduling software isn't what you need or want right now, we hope the template is useful. If on the other hand, you're feeling inspired to make the switch to scheduling software but the decision isn’t in your hands, here’s a few ways to show your boss the innovative potential scheduling software like 7shifts can provide modern restaurants. Good luck!

Over the years, four major scheduling styles have developed: casual, traditional, functional, and innovative. To learn more about each, and which is best for you check out: Shift Schedules: The Ultimate How-To Guide.

Restaurant Scheduling Software
for managers that want to stay in control

The easiest way to spend 80% less time scheduling your restaurant staff.

Try 7shifts for free.

Amanda McCorquodale
Amanda McCorquodale

Amanda McCorquodale is freelance writer based in White Plains, NY.