Sports can dramatically sway restaurant traffic, which is why earned hours are so important.
CrunchTime doesn't just understand the importance of earned hours because of its function within our labor management platform. Our employees see opportunities to put it into practice all the time. CrunchTime's headquarters is located near the TD Garden, home of the NHL's Boston Bruins and NBA's Boston Celtics. The neighborhood is filled with restaurants that rely on both teams to drive revenue.
These bars go virtually uninhabited during off days. When there isn't a game at the Garden business is slow, tables are easy to come by, and wait staff has to be cut. However, when the Bruins or Celtics are playing at home, these restaurants fill up hours before the games start. It is not uncommon to find lines out the door at the same places that otherwise struggle to bring in guests.
Boston is not the only city where this happens. Stadiums and arenas around the country are surrounded by restaurants that count on sporting events to bring in traffic. All elements of restaurant operations are radically different on game day. The amount of inventory used and number of team members scheduled won't be the same when there isn't a game. Restaurants that rely on local events for revenue can survive on this level of inconsistency, as long as they're properly managed.
The importance of earned hours
Getting the right number of employees for every shift is critical. A restaurant that primarily serves Celtics and Bruins fans before the game will require significantly more team members on game days than they do when there are no events at the TD Garden. But there's more to optimized schedules than just looking at sales forecasts. Managers need to know how close they were to matching those forecasts. This helps identify discrepancies between how many hours were scheduled for a shift and how many hours should have been scheduled.
Game days aren't the only factor affecting traffic at these kinds of restaurants. In many cases, the restaurant's success is tied to the team's success. A winning team typically drives more traffic to local restaurants than a losing team. Teams with star players tend to drive more traffic as well. A 2017 Harvard study detailed the impact Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James had on the local restaurant market. Before James left Cleveland in 2010, there were more than 200 restaurants within one mile of the Cavaliers' arena. That number dropped to a low of 165 in 2012 when James was not in Cleveland. When he returned in 2014 and the team contended for and eventually won a championship, the number rose to a new high of 210. Employment at these restaurants rose by 23.5 percent when James returned as well.
Ultimately, restaurants that primarily serve sports fans experience drastic shifts in traffic on a regular basis. As such, optimizing schedules without the right tools can be difficult. There's an upcoming home game but the team's on a five-game losing streak. Will that affect traffic? The team is on the road tonight but they've won their last four in a row and just traded for a star player. Will more guests eat at the restaurant and watch them on TV? Keeping up with the constant traffic changes can be maddening.
Using CrunchTime's earned hours metric helps because it indicates how many hours should have been scheduled based on actual sales during a certain shift. It lets you judge how well your managers adjust their staffing needs in response to actual sales conditions throughout the day. Using earned hours lets you know if too many people were kept on during a shift or if a shift was understaffed. Having this knowledge helps keep schedules optimized and maximizes profitability throughout the year.