How many people do you need to run your restaurant?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Staff costs are some of the most significant outgoings that restaurants need to pay. The balance of ensuring that you have the right number of staff to deliver a successful service and full customer satisfaction, while avoiding salaries so large they negatively impact cash flow, is hard. However, it’s also an essential calculation when it comes to achieving real financial success.

Hard numbers

Every restaurant is different and the number of staff you’ll need will vary depending on your service, location and the type of restaurant you have. Nevertheless there are some general statistics that can often come in useful.

A self-service restaurant: Demands on staff are lower for a self-service restaurant as food isn’t being cooked to order and plates aren’t being delivered to tables. Typical numbers might be 1 server, per shift, for every 12 tables and 4 back of house staff for every 50 customers across the same time period.

Seated but casual dining: Customers expect more in the way of service if they’re not helping themselves and you’ll need more staff per customers to make sure that you keep up with the logistics of orders and clearing. One server for 5 – 6 tables per shift and 4 back of house staff per 50 tables is a balance that can work quite well.

Fine dining: When you’re offering fine dining then you need to be far more attentive with more servers out front and more staff in the kitchen. One server for every 3-4 tables per shift and 6-7 back of house staff per 50 customers can be a good ratio.

Remember that in addition to the staff who make the service work you may also need cleaners, a sommelier, a maître d', a cashier and various different types of chef depending on your establishment. The more high-end the offering, the more people you need to employ to make the whole experience feel effortlessly enjoyable for the customer.

Employee satisfaction matters too

When you’re creating a workforce it’s not just about making sure that customers walk away happy and everything is done on time. A positive workplace culture requires enough people to ensure that no one is so overworked that their job becomes a nightmare. When you’re working out how many staff you really need for your restaurant, it’s often a good idea to overestimate, rather than end up with too few to handle demand. If necessary, look at temporary and reserve staff to cover potential emergencies and shortfalls.