by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor
IN MOST of the hospitality and service sector payroll is the number one controllable expense. That is certainly true in hotels as well as in most restaurants.
You have limited control over pay rates of course. Union contracts, minimum wage laws, and even the competitive market will place certain limits on your flexibility.
What you can and must do to be profitable is to control hours. A manager is constantly in a juggling process of having enough manpower to provide the services expected and promised vs. having too much which quickly brings the GOP to a train wreck level.
Yes, there are a lot of software programs available to help. But those are tools, they are only as good as what is put into them and even that does little or nothing to solve the scheduling problems.
To compound the issue is the hard cold fact that business volume is not a straight line. Every day, and even every part of a day, has wild fluctuations in the business levels and therefore the demands for payroll. It isn’t unusual for a hotel to flex from a 30% occupancy to 100% within a given week. Sometimes hitting extremes more than once. With that goes various volume flexes in restaurants, and banquets all of which is spread over a 24 hour period.
There are many ways to control payroll however without wrecking service standards, and thus the business’s reputation, or bringing the GOP to a red ink level.
How do you do it? What techniques do you find most useful that others can benefit from knowing? What roll does forecasting play in your scheduling and how do you do that?