April 16

Essential Staffing Guide for Patio Season


Patio Season is Upon Us—Is Your Restaurant Team Ready? If Not, Here’s Our Breakdown on Staffing Up For Increased Business!

Patio season can hit like a ton of bricks. One second, your restaurant is coming out of the end-of-winter lull, and the next, you have more tables than your staff remembers how to handle. 

The sudden “in the weeds” moment usually sparks a realization that you either need to schedule more boots on the ground or hire someone to help during the busy season. 

While an influx of traffic is always welcome, stretching your staff can and will result in poor customer service and burnout within your team. 

With patio season already popping off in some parts of the US—we’re here to help you streamline your restaurant staffing this patio season, so you’re only bringing on the help you need. 

Streamline Your Staffing For Patio Season

Before posting a job ad for extra help during the Spring, Summer, and Early Fall, you’ll want to review your needs and what tools are necessary to fill those needs. This way, you’ll save more on labor costs and enjoy the benefits of a more proactive approach to hiring.

You must consider a few critical components as you plan your patio staffing needs. 

First, Review Your Staffing Needs

When considering staffing up, it’s essential to review your hiring needs and build a strategy for quickly entering and exiting the hiring process so you can return to other parts of your business. 

Here are a few tips for reviewing your staffing needs: 

  • Evaluate your current floor plan: 
    It is crucial to examine your current floor plan, focusing on server sections and the distance between your patio space and the kitchen and bar. 

    Extending a server section or two to cover a patio is possible. But, if your team runs large sections or the patio is far from the kitchen or bar, it may need to be treated as an additional section with a dedicated server to offer optimal service on those busier nights. 
  • Check your turnover rate: 
    If your turnover rate is high, which is common in most restaurants, getting a head start on your hiring needs can be a lifesaver. 

    It’s much more challenging and hectic to hire when your staff is already neck-deep in the busy season. Unfortunately, a reactive approach to hiring for patio season can result in more turnover, as your staff will burn out much quicker with little work-life balance.
  • Talk with your team
    Check your team’s temperature before the busy season picks up. Scheduling group or one-on-one meetings to learn about upcoming plans for time off or whether your team is feeling stretched thin is invaluable to determining whether bringing on a new member or two is needed. 

    Talking with your team can help you determine which departments need help, how much help they need, and for how long. 

    This way, you can ensure you’re being considerate of your team’s need for work-life balance and helping them maintain their financial and career goals. 

Next, Refer to Your Hiring Strategy

Hiring gets competitive this time of year—you’re not the only one looking to staff up for the patio season. This is why referring to, or making, a hiring strategy is essential for putting your best foot forward and ensuring you’re attracting the best candidates for your open roles. 

Some critical components of a hiring strategy include: 

  1. Documented company values and mission statements: Helping hiring managers craft attractive job descriptions and guiding them when interviewing applicants to find candidates that fit the company culture. 
  2. Where to find candidates: Analyzing and tracking which hiring platform brings the best results is essential to a successful hiring strategy. This will help you get the most out of your hiring budget. 
  3. Interview Processes: Documented questions and interview procedures are a time saver! A good hiring strategy includes an interview process that allows you to identify the best candidates and streamline that process. 

Hiring strategies can go even further by identifying the best time of year to start hiring and providing a place to evaluate your processes over time so you can adjust as needed.

Then, Post Your Jobs With Realistic Expectations

When you’ve decided to hire a few people to help during patio season, you must be transparent about the help you’re looking for in your job description. 

Hiring managers often look to staff up for patio season, which means the role is seasonal and may be part-time—or even on-call. Finding people willing to work this schedule can be more challenging, but it’s not impossible! 

When you’re upfront about the weekly schedule and estimated hours, you and whoever you hire will be on the same page, resulting in better retention. 

If the role could result in a full-time hire, you should express that in your job description. For example, you could say, ” This role will start part-time or on a need-by-need basis but could result in a full-time position for the right candidate.” 

Lastly, Consider Alternative Staffing Options

If you decide that you don’t need to expand your team but are looking for flexible help to fill in as needed, you should consider some alternative staffing solutions.   

One way restaurants ensure they have people to fill in is to maintain relationships with past employees and invite them to pick up shifts as needed. You could also post a job to hire a few people strictly as “on-call” employees. 

Of course, the downside with this type of flexible staffing is that your list can only be so long, and during the busy seasons, it’s hard to find available people. 

Another solution is to seek out technology like Poached Shifts, our on-demand staffing service available to all employer accounts. 

Poached Shifts allows employers to promote individual shift needs and book from our network of vetted and qualified Poached Shift Workers. 

There are a few ways you can use Poached Shifts. You can publish a shift need and let anyone in our system book it. 

Another way is to use our Roster feature, browse worker profiles of people who fit the criteria you’re looking for, and invite those who look promising to join your roster. This way, you can post a shift, allowing only the workers on your roster to pick it up. 

Additionally, once you build a roster—you can quickly invite those workers to book future shifts. It’s like expanding your network to make a more reliable on-call team. 

Patio season is a glorious time of year that business owners and workers look forward to, as it increases productivity and profitability. Equipping your team with extra help so that everyone can have a successful season is essential. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Poached Shifts can help you—reach out to us at support@poachedjobs.com 

About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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