4 Tips On Improving Your Restaurant Back Office Frustrations

Running a restaurant seems like it should be more about the delicious eats, not paperwork. That’s not the reality, though.

In general, 45% of small business owners spend nearly a day a week doing admin. With the fast moving inventory (and constant cost adjustments) you deal with to run a restaurant, with timesheets and scheduling on top of it, you probably spend more.

It’d be nice to shave that time off, wouldn’t it?

Success out front requires success in the back. And that’s where our four tips come into play. We’ll show you how to reduce the time you spend on back office processes while increasing the return out front.

1. Utilize an online scheduling software 

Shift scheduling is probably the biggest draw on your time. You’re trying to balance customer demand with available workforce—one that’s not always as fully staffed as it needs to be and is made of people who need time off. 

Even when you get it right, canceled shifts and no-shows end up costing you thousands each year. Not only that, but local and state laws keep changing, which means that scheduling has gotten even more complicated. Manual scheduling is at the end of its shelf life.

Online scheduling software can take the headache away.

  • Stay in compliance with laws through built-in automation that prevents you from scheduling problematic shifts (e.g. clopenings).
  • Empower employees by letting them take an active role in creating their own schedule, and help them be more accountable to you and their coworkers. You can do this through shift preference, easy time-off requests, and employee-to-employee shift swaps.
  • Save time through automation by using templates so you don’t reinvent the wheel every week.
  • Manage schedule changes and requests wherever you are, through mobile devices and cloud access.

Because it’s an online tool, both you and your employees can use mobile devices to see, manage, and make requests regarding schedules. 

2. Implement a team communication app

There are lots of ways to communicate—text, email, phone call, bulletin board—but that means lots of room for missed and miscommunication.

An employee communication app that all employees and managers use is the way to go.

  • It’s located where the schedule is, which is what you’re communicating about.
  • It protects the privacy of employees who don’t want coworkers to have access to their phone number or other private information.
  • It makes it easier for you to monitor one communication channel instead of many.
  • Your communication is more targeted—broadcast to the whole team, send messages to subgroups the information applies to, or communicate directly with individual employees.
  • Have a record of communication in case problems arise down the road.
  • Get instant alerts when communication comes in so the response is more timely and potential crises can be averted.

You skip the team messaging system, and you increase the likelihood of no-shows, upset employees, confusion about schedules, and overall increased expense.

3. Automate payroll systems

Scary fact: about 44% of business owners deal with timesheet errors, both daily and weekly. That’s a lot of redundant work and wasted time.

Where are the errors coming from? Everything from missed clock-ins to time theft and buddy punching. Labor is usually the biggest expense for business owners, so this is extremely costly.

Time clocks and timesheets are tightly interwoven, so improving the time clock can improve the timesheet. Automation is the key. An automated time clock app will:

  • Track attendance, breaks, and time off easily, all while generating valuable labor data for use in planning down the road.
  • Reduce time clock fraud, using biometrics or geofencing.
  • Use automated pay rules and integration with your online scheduling so you reduce error and cost.
  • Make it easy for employees to clock in and out using mobile devices or on-site tablets.
  • Make it easy for you to spot missing clock ins/outs, and make corrections in the system.
  • Generate digital timesheets that are accurate.

An automated time clock flows to digital timesheets that can easily be used by you, your accountant or, even better, integrated with your payroll provider.

4. Automated inventory management

Replenish supplies. Stay on top of expiration dates. Watch costs. Find suppliers. Be aware of backorders. Meet customer demands for each season.

Restaurant inventory management is complicated. 

Doing it manually, particularly when more than one employee is involved anywhere in the chain, opens the door for mistakes.

Inventory management software will:

  • Give you current inventory in real time, a great way to avoid wasting food as well as use predictive ordering to stay ahead of the game.
  • Provide better cost data so you stay on budget.
  • Generate purchase agreements and orders automatically, while tracking available vendors to get you the best price.
  • Integrate with food and menu planning so you can make adjustments based on ingredient cost and availability.
  • Give you great data on what you use, when you use it, and if you’re on schedule. This is very useful for forecasting budgets and menu changes.

In a time when shipping delays, product availability, and pricing fluctuations are taking a toll on the restaurant industry, better inventory management could be the factor that keeps your doors open.


Back office software for restaurants meant to make your job easier should actually be easy to use. They should work intuitively for you and your employees, with as little fuss as possible.

For you, the manager, it means you aren’t simply trading in paper and spreadsheets for a pile of new apps to figure out with your fingers crossed that they’ll integrate. 

When it comes to your employees and all of the time and cost associated with labor, When I Work can take it all in stride in one simple and easy-to-use app. Fast schedule creation and management, in-app team messaging, time clocks and timesheets that integrate with payroll—it checks all of the boxes.

Even better, When I Work is budget-friendly with two simple plans to pick from based on how many people will be using the app. Start with a free trial, and find out for yourself how you can start reducing back office frustrations almost right away.

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