Reduce Staff Levels Without Making Customers Wait Longer

Reduce staff levels

Getting the balance right on efficiency and colleague time is essential to deliver your brand experience in an ever more competitive environment. The reward for getting it right is an increasing customer base and an efficient operating model. The converse is a downward spiral of disappointed customers and a chase to the bottom on costs and quality.

We’ve worked on productivity projects with full-service restaurants and quick service, grab and go outlets. Whatever the size and model; all hospitality brands have three questions that indicate if their colleague and cost balance is right or not.

How to reduce staff levels without reducing quality

When looking to reduce staff levels without impacting experience, consider the following points:

  1. What is your customer promise?

This has to be your starting point and everything you do must be designed to deliver your promise. 

Is it a cup of coffee as quickly as possible before a customer dashes for their train, or a warm welcome and table service with a smile? 

Getting this right goes beyond just looking at resource levels – it takes the right recruitment, retention, training and leadership to deliver the brand promise. If you don’t understand what operating model is required to deliver, your promise you will disappoint at least some of your customers.

  1. What happens at your busiest times?

Your biggest opportunity to grow sales is at peak times when customer demand is highest. Anything you do to improve customer throughput at that time will be great news for your customers (shorter queues and reliable service), and for your business revenue. 

Brands need to evaluate if their resource levels are optimised to meet demand and they need to identify process improvements to increase capacity. For example, coffee outlets have increased their peak capacity by 25% by improving the workstation layout and deploying the right machines to support their colleagues.

Common problems causing mismatched resources is the wrong mix of full time and part-time colleagues, creating a flatter resource profile than the business opportunity profile, as well as misplanning breaks so that colleagues are not available when the customers need them most.

  1. What happens when your business is quietest?

This is when you should get essential tasks completed, as efficiently as possible, on skeleton colleague cover. 

Often, there isn’t enough staff at peak times, and on the contrary, too many staff at off-peak times. Too many staff members at off-peak times creates a scenario of wasted time and tasks being completed at a slow pace, as there is just no point getting them done any faster.

Ask yourself the above three questions and you will get an indication of whether your balance is right or not. Also, consider undertaking some productivity and efficiency measurement to help you put a financial value on your opportunities for growth and cost-saving.

Written by Simon Hedaux, founder and CEO of Rethink Productivity, a world-leading productivity partner which helps businesses to drive efficiency, boost productivity and optimise budgets.