The Tech That Helped This Restaurant Fix Its Scheduling Woes

The Tech That Helped This Restaurant Fix Its Scheduling Woes
Image credit: Juliana Sohn
Leith Hill and two of her well-scheduled employees.
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This story appears in the August 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Foodies and critics alike quickly embraced Ellary’s Greens, a 3-year-old natural-foods café in New York’s Greenwich Village. But in the back of the house, owner Leith Hill and her managers were using a very stale (though organic!) approach to scheduling employee shifts. “We were making schedules by hand, on paper,” recalls Hill, who in April launched an uptown, quick-serve version of her eatery. “We’d spend hours working on the schedule. Then someone would say, ‘I can’t work Tuesdays anymore,’ and we’d go back to the drawing board.”

The fix

To solve her woes, Hill turned to Planday, a workforce-management platform for shift-based businesses. It was developed in Denmark and introduced to the U.S. market in 2015. For employers, the cloud-based Planday offers schedule making and hours tracking, plus messaging tools to connect with workers. Using the web or Planday’s app, employees can request and trade shifts and bid on open slots posted by a colleague or their boss. “A manager can say, ‘Hey, a shift is open in two hours. Who wants to take it?’” says Planday CEO Christian Broendum.

The results

Getting the system up and running was easy, says Hill, with “virtually zero” learning curve for employees and managers. The base package costs $2 per employee per month; an enhanced package costs twice that. But, says Hill, “we’re easily recouping the cost with what we gain in efficiency.” Almost immediately, she sensed an increased happiness among her shift-based staff of 46. “The platform allows us to set a monthly schedule instead of weekly. That helps us plan and gives the team stability. They love it!”

A second opinion

Moving to digital workforce-management processes is a must for shift-based businesses, especially given how inexpensive such systems have become, says John Frehse, managing partner at Core Practice, a New York labor strategy firm. By doing so, businesses can expect to see cost savings of 10 to 15 percent. Frehse says a millennial-friendly mobile app is key, as are functions that allow people to see -- and rearrange -- schedules at least several weeks in advance, and connect with a supervisor in real time. 


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