Joe DeLoss is the founder of Hot Chicken Takeover (HCT), an inspired experiment in the heart of Ohio that set out to capture the community and spirit of Nashville’s famous hot chicken culture. Joe’s labor of love has become a hearty success—and quickly, too. Starting as a single small pop-up window, HCT now has three restaurants and nearly 200 employees, serving up more juicy, perfectly fried Nashville Hot Chicken than ever—and always with an open-arms attitude, where you “come for the chicken, stay for the people.” But how does a fast-growing business with so many workers keep up with day-to-day logistics and communication? Despite not being a “tech person,” Joe has been quick to realize that tech tools are invaluable for managing multiple locations and keeping his people happy. Staff scheduling is one of the main areas where he’s found the big benefits of tech over HCT’s previously manual processes—for both his workers and his business.
Joe’s top 6 ways that smart scheduling software can help:
1. “Team members can check their schedule anytime, anywhere. If something pops up for a team member, they can easily check their phone to see if they have to work or not, because it’s mobile. That means our team isn’t scribbling on pieces of paper or relying on memory—and we know it’s working, because people are showing up on time and we’re fully staffed.” 2. “Team members can easily swap or pick up shifts. If someone’s in a pinch and can’t find child care, or if they have a conflict they can’t get out of, the tool allows them to release a shift so others can pick it up. Team members can also solicit shifts, like if they want to work more hours to save up for a special occasion. This is also great for managers, because it takes the pressure off them to continually edit and balance the schedule. Team members have ownership of the schedule, and everyone can easily see the dialogue with one another to cover shifts.” “I have 3 kids, and sometimes stuff just happens. If I can release my shift, then I don’t have to worry about letting the team down.” —Amanda P., HCT team member.
3. “Team members can connect and engage in a meaningful way. Everyone can post announcements and connect in a safe forum that isn’t tied to social media. Conversations are upbeat, positive, and team-related, and it’s another way for our team to connect in a space outside their work day. We’ve had members post to congratulate one another for doing a great job, welcome new team members, and celebrate anniversaries. These ‘virtual connections’ create strong relationships that are evident in the workplace and contribute to a positive environment.” “That’s the coolest part, the interconnectedness. It keeps everybody aware of what’s going on and able to reach out to one another.” —Tron M., HCT team member.
4. “Managers and admin can view schedules and labor ratios. When we’re looking at labor costs, it’s handy to take a glimpse through the tool and get insight on how each restaurant handles scheduling—so we can understand areas where we can coach managers to find cost savings. The tool not only gives us control over scheduling but also helps us drive our bottom line.”
5. “We get suggestions for scheduling because the tool keeps track of all the conflicts of our schedule. This helps our managers take the guesswork out of how they should build schedules each week. The conflict alerts save them several hours of time—and that means less time behind a computer figuring out the schedule and more time on the floor, coaching team members and connecting with customers.”
“With over 60 employees, writing a schedule is like playing a symphony. Without the app, I’d be locked in my office for hours trying to write a weekly schedule.” —Craig Morin, General Manager, HCT Easton.
6. “We can communicate with team members better. When we have important information to relay to the team for each shift—for example, a reminder of certain shift’s dress guidelines or an upcoming promotion —we post it on our scheduling tool as a shift day note for all to see. We don’t have a bulletin board in our back office, so having a digital space to share important messages—and ensuring that our team is receiving them—is extremely important. This allows us to not only share important announcements, but team members can also respond with questions, creating an important two-way dialog.”
“I can broadcast messages to the entire team, manage time-off requests, and make schedules that align with my employees’ lives outside of work.”
—Craig Morin, General Manager, HCT Easton.
A smart scheduling tool can be an effective tool for many growing businesses—not only to give employees ownership over their schedules, but to help managers spend more time on higher-value tasks. Here’s how to get started.