The Disadvantages of Set Schedules

As Close As You Can Get As A Server

Saturday night I spent some time on the patio with one of the newer servers at my restaurant.  He is low on seniority, but has spent more years serving than I have.  I estimate total the two of us have between three and four decades of serving experience.  I am pretty high on seniority at my restaurant, but nevertheless we were in neighboring sections on the patio on a reasonably busy Saturday night watching the rain.  After nearly four hours (five for him) we were sent home without receiving a table.

I work at a restaurant that has a set schedule.  They take it a step further by rotating sections by an established system.  This means that seniority and experience do not factor into what station I have on a given night.  I know in advance what station I will have, what sidework is mine, and how likely it is that my station will be cut.  This has both positive and negative impacts on how I view my job.  Today I will discuss the negatives and tomorrow I will address the benefits of having a set schedule.

Here are some of the drawbacks of set schedules:

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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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  • http://yellowcat413.wordpress.com yellowcat

    My schedule is set. I work the same shifts week after week. Our sections rotate much like yours. But! If we are slow, the first in is the first off, or if someone is being a PITA I can cut them. We all get stuck with the shit section, but usually only one day at a time.

    I don’t think I would like your system.

    • http://tipsfortips.wordpress.com tipsfortips

      I think the difference is that I work at a place where on a Saturday night we have 17 servers inside, 5 cocktailers, and 6 more on the patio. With 28 people people complaining about their station or wanting to be cut would be hell on a manager. It also means that there are far more weak sections to distribute.

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  • http://www.waitinginvegas.com Waiting

    Our restaurant is union. We have set schedules and days off. We are supposed to rotate stations also but night shift is hard to rotate because your station kind of depends on which day shift server you are relieving. Our cuts/outs are based on who is scheduled to leave first and who wants to leave early. If you are in a crappy station then it’s pretty easy to just get someone who is in a better station cut and then move into their station. Also, we make so much money hourly, our managers are eager for people to leave to save on labor. Like most restaurants, there’s no shortage of people willing to leave early.

    • http://tipsfortips.wordpress.com tipsfortips

      I would imagine Vegas also has really strange traffic flows compared to the rest of the country. My restaurants traffic is pretty predictable which makes staffing and cutting far easier I would imagine. I can see how that would effect stations pretty dramatically out there.

      I’ve read your blog several times, but have you ever written anything about the difference in working in a union city? I think that would be pretty enlightening to those of us who don’t. If you have (or do in the future), let me know so I can link to it. I have been thinking about talking about this for a while.

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