Being able to accurately track time and attendance and produce reports for payroll can be a difficult task for restaurant managers. With managers focussed on ensuring the smooth running of their business, it can be all too easy to miss a late starter or early leaver – and not adjust their timesheet accordingly.

The start and end of each shift, with employees changing and handing over responsibilities to each other; is where most of the waste is – and also, where the majority of the savings are to be made. Many restaurants realise the need for time and attendance systems, but haven’t got around to implementing any.

Here are 3 simple, but effective tips for reducing time & attendance labor costs:

Have You Got Any Buddy Punchers?

Buddy punching is when an employee has a co-worker punch them in early or punch them out after they leave. It is a common practice in bars and restaurants, and one that is extremely hard to detect. A common deterrent for buddy punching is a clock in machine with a fingerprint scanner, these however, are notoriously slow, easily broken in a fast paced environment and can actually result in employees being late for work. Time and Attendance software is a low-cost solution that can eliminate this common practice.

We experienced this in our restaurant and replaced them with our own iPad clock in app called Timestation. This allows a quick picture to be snapped each time someone clocks in or out, a simple and effective solution.

Obviously there are other great apps out there so find one that suits your business but know that eliminating buddy punching can dramatically reduce labor costs.

Comparing Actual vs Scheduled Times At The End Of Each Shift/Day?

Is there a pattern emerging with staff leaving later on certain days regardless of how busy you are? It is important to emphasise to your managers that they need to stick to the schedule and ensure their teams finish on time.

Try to ensure that staff only sign in when in uniform and sign out before changing.

Set Clear Times For Actual Breaks

Your staff should know when their break is and how long they are entitled to take. Allowing staff to take numerous ‘short’ breaks throughout the day might seem like a good idea, however, it becomes very difficult to track how many breaks they’ve taken and for how long over the course of a day or week.

Allowing your staff to take breaks “when we’re quiet” leads to longer breaks as there is no pressure to get back to work. Also for staff who smoke, this should only be done on their actual break. Do not offer “Smoke Breaks” to staff.