7 Time Tracking Best Practices in US Restaurants

Written by Asim Qureshi
By Asim Qureshi, CEO Jibble

Hi, I’m Asim Qureshi, the CEO and co-founder of Jibble, a cloud-based time and attendance software. I have several years of experience in building and scaling software products and teams across various industries and markets. Before I founded Jibble, I worked as a VP at Morgan Stanley for six years. I’m passionate about helping businesses improve their productivity and performance through smart time management practices.

This article covers:

Overview: The Importance of Time Tracking for US Restaurants

Final Thoughts: Elevating Restaurant Efficiency through Effective Time Tracking
Busy Restaurant. Best Practices for Time Tracking in US Restaurants.

Overview: The Importance of Time Tracking for US Restaurants

More than 6 in 10 (62%) restaurant decision makers cite inflation and rising costs as well as difficulty acquiring food and supplies as challenges facing their business today. Of those struggling with inflation, roughly a quarter have increased prices (28%) or changed menu items (23%) and 22% changed portion sizes. – Restaurants are Ready to Serve by Nationwide Insurance.

Inflation has hit restaurants hard. But according to Forbes, the US restaurant industry has bounced back after its lows during the Covid19 pandemic. To survive, restaurants have been forced to adapt. Some restaurants have had to make menu and even recipe changes due to costs. And the US has seen restaurants reducing hours because they see fewer customers coming before or after work because they no longer commute, but work from home. So now, more than ever, time tracking is very important for US restaurants. It can help you see how employees use their time, find ways to streamline operations and experience greater success. In this article, we will share seven best practices for time tracking that work well for US restaurants. These tips can help you run your business better and increase profits.

Tip 1. Get to know your Time Tracking Needs

Take an inventory of your time tracking needs. There are all the legal requirements for tips, overtime, breaks, and sick leave as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If you serve alcohol, you may have additional time tracking needs such as which servers are on alcohol duty, especially if you have underage workers in the restaurant as child labors can vary by US State. Look at other information specific to your restaurant, such as when people work, if they switch roles, and how long they do it. Think about if you want to track how much time people spend on things like cleaning or closing the restaurant. Then you can take all these things and compare them closely to see if your current tracking system gives you the information you really need to run your restaurant well.

Tip 2. Choose the Right Time Tracking Software

It is essential to select the right time clock software for your restaurant. Software that is user-friendly and lets people enter their time quickly saves everyone time. Many apps have features that really streamline clocking in and out, such as using face recognition and geofencing. This can be done by a kiosk that you set up or even on the employee’s mobile phone. Make certain that the time tracking software you use follows each US State’s Labor Regulations regarding breaks and scheduling.

Tip 3. Educate Employees on Time Tracking

After you have picked the right software, teach your employees about time tracking. This is where selecting user-friendly software is essential- many apps also have built-in help features that will send employees to an extensive knowledge base. One task you really should personally do is to go through the app with the employee to set up alerts and reminders for their shifts. This really helps reduce mix-ups and no-shows for staff.

Tip 4. Improve Bookkeeping and Human Resources

Time tracking can make bookkeeping and human resources run smoother in the restaurant by integrating your time tracking system with your payroll system. This makes paying people easier and more accurate. Make clear rules in the system for asking for time off and what counts as work time and what does not. Ensure someone is in charge of checking and locking the timesheets at a certain time, so they are correct and consistent.

Tip 5. Use Reports to Make Management Decisions

“Maintaining a robust core tech infrastructure, building out advanced data and analytical capabilities, and staying at the forefront of emerging technological trends will be imperative for growth.” – Cooking Up Extraordinary Growth for Restaurants During a Downturn by McKinsey & Company.

One of the best things about time tracking is that it gives you useful data that can help you make decisions. Use data analysis to look at things like when people work, how long they work, and how often they take breaks. Look for patterns that show where people need more training or where work can be shared better. You can use this information to make decisions that help your restaurant do better and make more money.

Tip 6. Regularly Review and Adjust Schedules

Besides tracking how much people work, it is important to check and change schedules often based on what the restaurant needs and when people can work. Take into consideration when the restaurant is busy, what customers want, and what employees like when making schedules. A good time tracking app will notify everyone about any changes or updates in the schedule, so they know what to expect. By making good schedules, you can have enough people working, avoid having too many or too few people working, and make the restaurant run better.

Restaurant workers assembling food on trays. Time Tracking Best Practices in US Restaurants

Tip 7. Encourage Employee Feedback

The last time tracking best practice in US Restaurants is to ask employees what they think about how time is tracked in your business. Ask them for their ideas and opinions on how to make time tracking better and easier. Talk to them about any problems or challenges they have with the time tracking system. By doing this, you can make a good work environment where employees feel valued and involved.

Final Thoughts: Elevating Restaurant Efficiency through Effective Time Tracking

To sum up, these seven time tracking best practices can bring significant benefits to US restaurants. By thoroughly understanding the specific time tracking needs of the restaurant, such as shifts, job titles, and tasks, they can ensure accurate and comprehensive data collection. Choosing the right time tracking software with user-friendly interfaces and features such as facial recognition for clocking in and out and break reminders can simplify the process for both managers and employees.

Educating employees about the purpose and benefits of time tracking fosters a culture of accountability and punctuality, while also emphasizing the importance of accurate records. Improving bookkeeping and human resources practices through integration with payroll software and establishing clear policies for time-off requests contribute to seamless operations and accurate records. Using time tracking reports as a management tool provides valuable insights into attendance patterns, breaks, and work schedules, enabling informed decision-making and resource allocation.

Additionally, regularly reviewing and adjusting schedules based on the restaurant’s needs and employee availability optimizes staffing levels, minimizes inefficiencies, and improves overall operational efficiency. Encouraging employee feedback and input creates a sense of ownership and engagement, leading to better compliance and accuracy in time tracking.

By adopting these best practices, US restaurants can enhance transparency, accountability, and operational excellence. These practices provide the foundation for effective time tracking, allowing restaurants to optimize their operations, improve productivity, and achieve success in a highly competitive industry.