As a cafe owner, your day is often a delicate dance of brewing the perfect cup, charming the regulars, and ensuring your establishment runs like a well-oiled machine. One of the critical cogs in this machine is your staff roster. The impact of not balancing your rosters, especially during high-demand times, can be more costly than you might think. Let’s pour over the details.
The Ripple Effect of Imbalanced Rosters
Just like a pebble thrown into a pond creates wave after wave of ripples on the water’s surface. A roster that is imbalanced has quite a few unexpected ripple effects for your cafe business too.
Whether it’s too many staff or too few staff; a roster that doesn’t get the balance right actually costs you money.
Too Few Staff = Wasted Marketing Budget
Imagine a bustling morning, the air rich with the aroma of fresh coffee, but with only a few hands on deck. Lines grow, wait times lengthen, and the quality of service inevitably dips. When your team is stretched thin, the personal touch that might define your cafe takes a hit.
The ultimate waste of your advertising and marketing budget is being understaffed due to problems in the roster.
Whether you’re doing promotions inexpensively with a letter drop or paying for advertising. Think about the time you put into walking around dropping off your flyer (wasted) or the money taken out of your profits to pay for that advertising campaign…
You’ve sacrificed something of value to attract customers to your cafe, so having them walk out without buying because of lack of staff. Even worse; having them leave unhappy because they are now late or just annoyed that everything took so long (unhappy customers might look like they only leave once, but the sad truth is it’s more likely that they’re leaving for good) … that’s a tragedy!
Overworked Staff Creates Opportunities for Churn
An imbalanced roster that leads to overworked employees is asking for trouble. Your barista, juggling multiple orders, while your wait staff hustles between packed tables, creates a recipe for stress and burnout. High stress levels erode team morale, affecting the overall vibe of your cafe, which is something your customers can sense and are likely to respond to negatively.
When your team is too rushed to even have a polite hello chat with a customer, you know you have a rostering problem.
Basically, if you’re running your team at a high pace with very few financial incentives (bonuses or perks that make them want to stay), the money you invested in your people when they first started working for you is probably about to be thrown away. There is only so long that someone is willing to working in a high stress job before they decide the pay is not worth the pain.
It’s easy to forget, that all the training, all the equipment (eg. uniforms, name tags) all the mistakes they made when each one first started – theses where costs you had to pay to bring them up to the standard you wanted.
For each person you allow to leave because you have not resolved imbalanced rosters, you are losing the investment you made when they started with you and creating a future debt you have to pay when you recruit new people.
If you can afford to have that sort of ’employee churn’ in your cafe, that’s great. However for most established cafe entrepreneurs and those who want to be in the cafe industry for decades to come; being able to gather a loyal professional team is a number one priority. That means being good at creating balanced rosters is vital.
NOTE: Troubles with finding great new staff is no reason to leave your team ‘high and dry’ (there are recruitment agencies and employment platforms you can turn to for getting people in for short periods). If you think you can’t afford temporary staff, then you may want to work with a cafe business coach (because not being able to afford staff in a busy cafe would be an indication that things are seriously wrong with the finances of your business).
Mismatched Rosters Hurt Your Investment
Having an imbalanced roster in a cafe can reflect a lack of understanding of your customer base. If you don’t know when your cafe is busiest or which times of day attract different types of customers, it is easy to end up with an imbalanced roster.
If you’re not regularly assessing customer flow and adjusting your roster, it may indicate a lack of insight into evolving customer patterns and preferences. For example, not having enough staff during a newly popular weekend brunch slot shows a disconnect with changing customer behaviours.
Just like, different times of day often see varied menu demands, so if your roster doesn’t align with these demands (like having your best baristas during the busy morning espresso rush), it can lead to a failure to meet customer expectations consistently.
This level of inconsistency makes it challenging to build up the number of regular customers your cafe can rely on. Which has a negative flow on affect to your cafe business valuation (especially in customer-based business valuations).
With the long hours and passion that you pour into your cafe business, a simple thing like an imbalanced roster should not be allowed to harm your investment.
Missed Sales Erode Your Revenue
An imbalanced roster in a cafe can have significant financial repercussions for the business owner. When staffing levels don’t align with customer traffic – especially too few during a rush – the immediate effect is on the cafe’s profitability.
Lost sales; as potential customers leave due to long wait times, or choose not to enter at all upon seeing a crowded, chaotic scene. Leads to a direct loss of revenue.
Think about your ‘average dollar spend’ amount. Now multiply it by the number of customers that are either walking out or simply looking in and walking away. That’s the amount of revenue you are missing out on (at a minimum).
Here’s how that calculation works –
Let’s say you have an average dollar spend of $22.00/customer and that on a regular day your cafe gets 220 customers through the doors, but the roster is imbalanced so you miss out on 10 customers (people who walk out without buying).
Your estimated revenue for the day is 220 – 10 = 210 x $22.00 = $4,620.00.
You missed out on approximately 10 x $22.00 = $220.00 for the day.
Now let’s say you continue to operate your cafe business for a whole year without fixing the imbalanced roster. The number of working days in a year is 252, so the calculation would be –
252 x $220 = $55,440 in lost revenue.
Striking the Right Balance
So, what’s the solution? Forethought and adaptability.
Analyzing sales data and customer flow patterns can help you predict busy times. While investing in a good scheduling system that can offer insights and flexibility will help you structure a roster that is workable.
It’s also important to regularly check in with your team for feedback, as they are your eyes and ears on the ground.
Remember, a well-balanced roster is like the perfect brew – it requires attention to detail, understanding of the environment, and constant adjustment. By mastering this aspect of your cafe’s operation, you not only improve the day-to-day workflow but also secure the long-term profitability and reputation of your business.
In the world of cafe ownership, every detail counts – your roster included. So, next time you’re planning the week ahead, consider the broader impact of your staffing decisions. After all, the best cafe experiences are those where everything, including service, is just right.