By Tracy Morin | At the start of 2022, the U.S. labor shortage remains a grave concern on the minds of many business owners—especially those in foodservice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last November alone, 920,000 hospitality workers bid adieu to their jobs in the accommodation and foodservice category—at a rate of 6.9%, far higher than any other industry.
The labor shortage may prove a persistent concern for the year ahead, which is all the more reason for properly overseeing the employees you do have on staff right now (and, by using the right approach, you’ll have a better chance of retaining them over the long haul). It’s here that your POS system can be an invaluable ally. But what features can be most helpful in today’s ever-evolving labor landscape? To give you some ideas, we asked experts to share their most important POS features when it comes to labor management—and why they’re indispensable.
The Right Track
The expert: Ryan Fyfe, chief operating officer, Workpuls, San Francisco, CA
First, by tracking employee productivity and sales data, you’ll be able to identify which employees are most effective at driving sales and generating profits. You can then assign them more difficult tasks or goals, or give them more challenging products to sell, in order to challenge them and improve their skills.
You can also use your POS system to better manage your staff by tracking their time, taking inventory and making reports. Time tracking tracks the hours employees spend on different tasks so you know how much time was spent on each one. This information will help you determine which tasks will take up more of an employee’s time. Inventory management keeps track of the items in stock so you know what needs to be restocked or replaced. This information will help prevent out-of-stocks from happening too often—and helps prevent or draw attention to employee theft. Finally, I recommend generating reports that show sales data by day, week, month and year, as well as reportable tax information for tax filing purposes at the end of the year if required by law.
Overall, a pizzeria’s POS system needs to be able to manage and track orders, as well as handle payments. It should be able to handle multiple orders at once, calculate taxes and tips, print receipts, and accept payments via card or cash. But, on the labor side, all of this should also be easy to use, so that employees don’t have to spend too much time on training. In addition, a good POS system will provide reporting tools that allow pizzeria owners to track sales and performance data. Ultimately, a good POS system will help keep your business running smoothly.
The expert: Matt Martin, franchise operations director, Toppers Pizza, Madison, WI (70-plus locations)
There are a couple of key ways we utilize our POS system to improve how we manage our teams. First, we gather data for scheduling. We believe that the function of making a schedule is not only to control labor costs and run service, but also to retain your current team. It’s easy to see that the managers who write great schedules are better staffed than those who don’t. A couple of key attributes of a great schedule that result in better retention are:
Writing a schedule that will handle the service demands. Chaotic environments encourage turnover.
Writing each team member’s schedule how they want it to be written—i.e., not scheduling them more hours than they want, or scheduling them outside of their normal availability. These things are important to team members, and they’ll quit if you don’t excel in this area.But to make a great schedule, you’ve got to have great data. Our POS system gives us granular data that allows us to project scheduling needs down to the quarter-hour for each of the positions in our stores. To do this well, the data must be able to be broken down into the right time frames (e.g., quarter hour), and it must accurately show the output by role. For example, you would need to know how many items are sold during a specific time in order to estimate how many pizza makers to schedule.
Related: Why you need to hire a restaurant whisperer
The other big way we’re able to lean on our POS system is through flexibility—to tailor it to the needs of our teams. We built and own our POS system, called PiZMET, and have a team of developers on staff, constantly working to improve the system. This has given us the ability to adjust to changing team member needs. An example of this is introducing and excelling in curbside delivery during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. We were able to introduce curbside delivery to our customers before most other concepts, thanks to the ability to integrate an automatic texting program into our POS to remove the manual part of communication in the curbside process. The result was fulfilling a major customer need without creating a cumbersome process for team members.
Don’t be afraid to make adjustments! We maintain an active pipeline of development, based on team member and franchisee needs. There are some big tech development items on our list, of course, that will have a positive impact on managing teams, but there are a bunch of small items as well. We think of these as “death by a thousand paper cuts” items: No one item on its own is a big deal, but when you add them all up, they can be painful. We work both the big and small items into development so that we can keep the jobs in our stores as easy as possible. That’s what team members want from an employer, and owning the POS gives us the best chance to deliver for our team members.
Watching the Clock
Many POS systems have an integrated labor or scheduling module included in their software, but many do not have a very robust platform. Usually, third-party integrations are recommended, as they will provide greater control over the scheduling/labor management process.
Perhaps the greatest tool to assist in labor management that these systems provide is the one that limits clock-inavailability. If a schedule is built out with specific clock-in and clock-out times, management has the ability to restrict how soon or how late a team member can clock in or out. Employees often arrive early and decide themselves that, since they are on the premises, they should begin working and do not seek management approval to start early. Management is often busy with their daily tasks and don’t realize someone clocked in early. Especially in today’s environment, early clock-ins can result in hundreds, if not thousands, of additional labor dollars spent, resulting in lower profitability.
Therefore, the key POS features an operator should look for are: labor scheduling, clock-in/-out restriction function, communication portal, shift replacement, employee contact information, comparative reporting, minor violation tracking and awareness, overtime scheduling awareness, labor forecasting, and ideal schedules based on revenue forecasts.