Scaling for Success: How The Human Bean Simplified Labor Management Across 100+ Locations

Scaling for Success: How The Human Bean Simplified Labor Management Across 100+ Locations
AJ Beltis

By AJ Beltis

Since its first drive-thru espresso stand opened in Ashland, Oregon in 1998, The Human Bean has been delighting countless caffeine-craving customers.

Thanks to the company’s unique and fair trade bean sourcing, emphasis on community, and commitment to forming a personal connection with its guests, The Human Bean’s popularity has soared over the past 20+ years.

“We encourage that behavior of always giving back to the community that we have our stores in,” explained Kim Jackson, District Manager and Franchise Trainer for The Human Bean. The business’s annual Coffee for a Cure fundraising event, for example, sees proceeds going to a local foundation in each store’s community.

Drive thru employees at The Human Bean
The Human Bean team

The Human Bean now boasts more than 100 franchised and corporate-owned locations in 13 states – with 17 new locations in the first half of 2020 alone.

As the store counts grew so too did the number of The Human Bean managers and barista team members – but a store level scheduling, labor management, and universal communication software was desired  to scale the business. The demand for clarity and consistency in the realm of labor only became more pressing to The Human Bean’s District Managers, so they realized that the business needed dedicated software to support all employee and scheduling needs now, and into the future.

Ultimately, The Human Bean decided to partner with 7shifts – and has seen booming sales, controlled labor cost percentages, and a measurably more efficient scheduling process across their corporate-owned locations ever since.

Why The Human Bean Chose to Partner With 7shifts

As a growing chain with over one hundred locations, The Human Bean needed a labor management platform that balanced ease-of-use for employees, provided analytics and insights to the management team, and could be easily rolled out and adopted by individual stores.

Jean Schneider, a representative of The Human Bean’s corporate office, spoke to why this chain saw 7shifts as the ideal solution:

“We were looking for a scheduling software that integrates well with our POS and was cloud-based,” Jean said. As a cloud-based technology, managers can publish and employees can review schedules with 7shifts from any device with an internet connection – whether it’s through a web browser or the 7shifts mobile app.

Loyal The Human Bean customers!

Jean also saw the need for a robust labor management software that appealed to the requirements of a foodservice enterprise. Jean cited 7shifts’ other popular features, such as great customer service,” its “comparable low cost,” and the powerful “sales and labor forecasting” as reasons why The Human Bean adopted 7shifts.

But what ultimately fueled The Human Bean’s decision to go with 7shifts was “the ease of use with a very short learning curve.” With its intuitive interface for managers and employees alike, new users can start maximizing their use of 7shifts immediately – and without the need for expansive and expensive training.

This means that from a corporate perspective, they could implement a predictable and repeatable labor management process that grew with their business.

The Remedy to a Communication Nightmare

Before 7shifts, The Human Bean relied on an archaic method for building their staff schedules.

“We used paper and a pen,” explained Natalie Korich, District Manager at The Human Bean.

As a result of this approach, making adjustments to the schedule wasn’t the easiest process before the team had 7shifts.

“I had one email [account] just for time off,” explained Kim, who went on to recount situations where managers would send screenshots of group texts between the manager and two employees who had agreed to swap shifts for documentation purposes. “It was a rough ride,” she explained.

It got to the point where employees were not allowed to swap shifts with each other after a schedule was finalized because the process almost always ended in disaster. “We used to just not do shift changes,” Kim explained. However, thanks to the shift trading tool in 7shifts, employees can offer shifts up to or swap shifts with their coworkers, which managers can approve with the tap of a button.

7shifts Shift Pool Requests over time.

This year, The Human Bean has averaged 1000 shift pool requests per month and close to 700 swaps per month – enabling employees to make immediate and permissible shift changes right within the 7shifts app.

The Human Bean chat usage from Jan 2019 to Sep 2020

“It's so clear – the up-for-grabs, the approval,” Kim continued. “It's lovely.”

Sales Growth in a Time of Uncertainty

Since The Human Bean’s partnership with 7shifts began in January of 2019, sales have steadily increased for the coffee chain. The results were so positive that even more stores in the group have started utilizing 7shifts for their scheduling and labor management needs – and sales have continued to grow.

7shifts gives managers the ability to make schedules quicker and allows them to spend more time on staff training, guest interactions, and other business-critical work. “It cut back time,” Natalie said. “It doesn't take me as long to do schedules anymore,”

Sales for The Human Bean from Jan 2019 to Jul 2020

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Human Bean’s sales have increased.

While sales took a slight dip during the advent of nationwide shutdowns, they recovered almost immediately. In fact, April through August of 2020 saw the five strongest months of sales on record.

Controlling Costs With an Advanced Labor Management Software

Since using 7shifts, The Human Bean has better controlled and constrained its labor costs across the chain. The ease of creating and sharing schedules with 7shifts – particularly with 7shifts’ scheduling templates tool for saving reusable shift schedule blueprints – has meant the team at The Human Bean has one less thing to worry about. “I'm really thankful – especially with COVID – being able to do one week schedules and doing the predictive scheduling,” expressed Natalie.

In a time of global uncertainty, 7shifts has provided insights into costs and restaurant metrics that have helped The Human Bean consistently keep labor costs percentage under the targeted 20%

Labor cost percentage for The Human Bean from Jan 2019 to Jul 2020
“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.”

This crucial visibility into the relationship between sales data and labor cost comes from 7shifts’ integration with restaurant POS system Toast, which provides real-time sales data and generates intuitive sales projections to help managers make smarter staffing decisions. “Now that 7shifts and Toast are married, it's beautiful. We know the opportunities ahead of us, and we're really excited about it,” said Kim.

A Powerful Tool for Enterprise and Rapidly-Growing Brands

The Human Bean team has seen the benefit of 7shifts for their 100+ location restaurant business, with the company now having more visibility into labor costs and scheduling’s relationship with revenue across more locations than ever before.

As The Human Bean expands – with new locations also using 7shifts – managers can adhere to the same targets and use the same scheduling templates across all units for a universal approach to scheduling. This consistency for one of the most essential elements of running a restaurant will be a key element for The Human Bean as it continues to scale.

“It's all there,” explained Kim. "It's with sales. It's with the schedule, and allows you to focus on your business.”
"Without a doubt, 7shifts has helped our work environment become more effortless,” agreed Natalie. “This modern platform has given my team and I the tools to be more productive and efficient, thus allowing our company to schedule with ease.”
The Human Bean iced coffee
Just some of the delicious beverages from The Human Bean

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AJ Beltis
AJ Beltis

AJ Beltis is a freelance writer with almost a decade of experience in the restaurant industry. He currently works as a content manager at HubSpot, and previously as a blogger at Toast.