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If you’re running or managing a restaurant, you know that a lot goes on behind the scenes, even if all seems perfect from the outside.

Have you ever found yourself short-staffed because an employee forgot to check the posted schedule? Has a shift swap ever resulted in a no-show? Whatever the circumstance, these frustrating miscommunications can easily throw whole shifts out of whack.

The truth is, many of these common errors are avoidable with restaurant scheduling software. These digital platforms have quickly become the most efficient way to keep staff in the loop with scheduling updates, shift swap requests, and more. Gone are the days of manually creating spreadsheets to create your restaurant’s employee schedules, and making task lists with pen and paper. Restaurant scheduling software means that these functions can be organized in one centralized location, accessible to all workers.

In this article, we’ll explore twelve of the best restaurant scheduling software programs to help you run your restaurant like a well-oiled machine. Not only will scheduling software mean improved organization and efficiency for your team, but staff will appreciate the ease of communication that follows.

What is a Restaurant Scheduling App?

A restaurant scheduling app helps business owners and managers schedule their staff by enabling quick and easy scheduling management. Processes such as creating schedules and updating employees with business communications become more automated, increasing productivity and workplace satisfaction. All of this means that less time is wasted on obligatory tasks, such as creating Excel spreadsheets for shift schedules and to-do lists. It’s estimated that on average, managers lose 20% of their time each year on these types of tasks. Restaurant scheduling software helps reduce this lost time, allowing owners and managers to focus on more important tasks—like running a business.

How to Select the Best Restaurant Scheduling App

Every restaurant is different, but there are a few features of a great scheduling program that will be universally helpful to any restaurant. We’ve listed them below:

1. Mobile access

Deskless workers, such as restaurant management and staff, are finding scheduling apps more and more effective for essential communication and organization. When a restaurant scheduling software has a mobile option, this immediately makes it ten times more convenient and versatile. Why? Because its features can be contained in an employee’s back pocket. All workers have to do to view the weekly schedule, request changes, or check schedule updates is open an app.

2. Ease of use

One of the biggest reasons and advantages of trading scheduling spreadsheets for restaurant scheduling software is efficiency. However, if the learning curve of the software is too steep or time-consuming, this defeats the purpose, and can lead to more wasted time. Restaurant scheduling technology should always be easy to use.

3. Reporting

A good restaurant scheduling app should provide reports for owners and managers that will help them develop their employee management strategies. For example, reports on shift duration may help reduce overtime by allowing managers to efficiently track employee workload in real-time.

4. Shift swaps with approval

Employees should be able to easily swap shifts with each other using restaurant scheduling software. Their swap will appear to the business owner or manager in the form of a notification or message, which may be approved with one simple action. This eliminates streams of back-and-forth texts discussing the shift swap.

5. Built-in communications

One of the best features of restaurant scheduling software is a built-in messaging system, which will function as its own messaging that’s exclusive to the app. This centralized form of communication will help separate business from other messages on your phone, and keep all staff members in the loop.

6. Employee availability

Another handy feature of a restaurant scheduling app is the ability to check when your employees are available, based on the time slots they submit. This makes scheduling much easier, and eliminates any back-and-forth communication that would arise from questions about availability.

12 Best Restaurant Scheduling Software Apps

The apps we’ve listed below target several — if not all — of these features. We’ll provide a brief overview of each, and also include pricing information, such as whether the program offers a free plan.

1. Coast

Best for restaurants of all sizes

Coast Employee Scheduling

Coast’s free employee scheduling app makes it easy to create and send weekly schedules, request shift swaps, and communicate with staff. Many of Coast’s customers have said that the app offers the most easy-to-use scheduling features that help reduce labor costs and eliminate shift confusion.

Key Features:

  • Easily oversee and control multiple schedules across teams and locations;
  • Create schedules for the week or month within minutes;
  • The ability to easily share and swap shifts in a centralized location;
  • “Seen” feature, which ensures that staff have viewed the schedule;
  • Mobile app allows managers and staff to access schedules while on the go.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and run, and easy to onboard staff;
  • Great for assigning tasks and keeping track of progress;
  • Automated reminders whenever a shift is published, edited, or changed;
  • Built-in communication system that keeps your entire staff in the loop, and allows for group messaging or individual messaging.
  • Mobile app functionality.

Cons:

  • No ability to save schedule templates;
  • No auto-scheduling feature;
  • Limited integrations to other software.

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Coast:

  • Capterra – 5/5
  • G2 – 5/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.4/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.7/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes — includes unlimited messaging, scheduling, and task history, plus file storage up to 5 GB. Try Coast for free now to save time and money on your scheduling!

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Starter plan is available for $4 a user per month.
  • The Plus plan is available for $8 a user per month.
  • The price of the Professional plan (for larger teams) is undisclosed on the Coast website, but a demo of the software may be requested.

2. Homebase

Homebase Employee Scheduling

Homebase is a free employee scheduling software that believes software should be easy and enjoyable. Launched in 2015, Homebase now offers a variety of free features to help business owners and managers run a tight ship, including:

Key Features:

  • Create work schedules in minutes using schedule template;
  • Forecast labor costs and build a smarter work schedule;
  • Automatically reminds employees of upcoming shifts, and allows you to manage shift trades and covers on the fly;
  • Mobile instant messaging app for streamlined team communication.

Pros:

  • Simplified interface for easy user experience;
  • Access schedules and make last-minute changes from anywhere;
  • All scheduling, shift swaps and requests, etc. are possible through the app for efficient communication;
  • Streamlines scheduling across multiple sites and locations;
  • Free mobile app, and free scheduling and time-clock features.

Cons:

  • Availability must be entered manually each weekly schedule;
  • Reports are limited;
  • Some features are not consistent across the platform (i.e. mass-messaging is possible through the app, but not using the website);
  • Separation of departments is restrictive, making it difficult to schedule employees who perform more than one role.

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Homebase:

  • Capterra – 4.6/5
  • G2 – 4.2/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.4/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.8/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes (basic tier) — includes online scheduling, payroll and time tracking, and a centralized dashboard where employees can view their schedule, pay, and time off.

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Essentials plan is available for $14 per month.
  • The Plus plan is available for $35 per month.
  • The All-In-One plan is available at $70 per month.

3. When I Work

When I Work Employee Scheduling

When I Work strives to reduce friction in everyday business by helping hourly teams streamline their work experience. Their focus is on reliability and dependability—for their product, and for bringing teams together.

Key Features:

  • Easy schedule building that allows task designation, templates, and auto-scheduling;
  • Time-off requests are easily managed via mobile app;
  • Scheduling is built to scale across multiple sites and locations;
  • Simplified team messaging, from one-on-one texts to mass messaging;
  • Automatic posting to major job boards to help fill open positions.

Pros:

  • Mobile clock-in feature to keep accountability;
  • Scheduling templates make instant schedule creation possible;
  • Schedule management uses pre-entered employee information to create weekly schedules within minutes;
  • Color-coded scheduling makes it easy to see who is working on specific days.

Cons:

  • Schedule creation is much simpler on desktop than mobile;
  • Employees can’t submit timesheets to managers (managers must check with employees to ensure a timesheet is complete and finalized);
  • Employees can only request PTO before the days are taken (not afterward);
  • Limited integration with payroll.

What People Think About Managing Schedules with When I Work:

  • Capterra – 4.5/5
  • G2 – 4.4/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.5/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.7/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes — includes simple scheduling for a single location for up to 75 users.

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Basic plan is available for $1.50 a user per month.
  • The Pro plan is available for $2.25 a user per month.
  • The Enterprise plan is available for an undisclosed price. Those interested may request a demo tour.

4. 7shifts

7Shifts Employee Scheduling

7shifts is designed specifically for restaurants, aiming to help owners and managers reduce scheduling efforts and streamline their communication. To date, its reach extends to over 300,000 restaurant pros around the world.

Key Features:

  • Auto-scheduling based on system intelligence, such as forecasted demand;
  • Editable timekeeping (for management) for faster payroll and more accurate reports;
  • Recurring or one-time task list creation for your entire team, specific to their shifts;
  • A Manager Log Book which centralizes notes, customer complaints, and more across restaurant management;
  • Easy communication tools that encompass time off requests, shift swaps, and instantly-published schedules.

Pros:

  • Manager Log Book is a unique feature that keeps all management in the loop;
  • Automated forecasting makes instant scheduling possible;
  • Great user-friendly functionality;
  • Targets and caters to restaurants specifically;
  • Real-time sales vs. labor reports.

Cons:

  • Desktop app and mobile app do not sync correctly with pre-shift times;
  • Potential issues with POS integration;
  • Limited data generated from reports;
  • Mobile app is more developed than the website (i.e. more sales and labor analytics reported).

What People Think About Managing Schedules with 7Shifts:

  • Capterra – 4.7/5
  • G2 – 4.6/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.5/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.8/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes —Comp plan includes simple scheduling for one location.

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Appetizer plan is available for $17.99 per month.
  • The Entree plan is available for $39.99 per month.
  • The Works plan is available for $69.99 per month.

5. HotSchedules

HotSchedules

HotSchedules is the marriage of two small start-ups that were founded in 1999. The shared goal of these businesses was to build a digital platform that would eliminate the time-consuming aspects of scheduling, specifically for restaurants. Today, HotSchedules serves more than 7,000 customers across 120,000 locations all over the globe.

Key Features:

  • Create schedules based on forecasted sales and compliance requirements;
  • Approve shift transactions with one click;
  • Forecasts based on sales and budget;
  • Instant mobile access on any device at any time, including apps;
  • Simple integration with existing systems for improved efficiency (i.e. POS).

Pros:

  • UI design simplicity and ease of operation;
  • Quick and responsive technical support;
  • Easy and intuitive schedule creation;
  • Simplified communication among management and staff (i.e. employee contact information is provided; text notifications when shift is reassigned);
  • Keeps accessible and clear task schedules in one place.

Cons:

  • Some lag time to access certain features (i.e. task lists and log books);
  • The HotSchedules app isn’t free;
  • Steep learning curve to take full advantage of HotSchedules’ features;
  • Some discrepancies between ease of use on website vs. mobile app (i.e. easier to navigate program via app).

What People Think About Managing Schedules with HotSchedules:

  • Capterra – 4.4/5
  • G2 – 4.2/5
  • Google Play Store – 3.2/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.7/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: 14-Day Free Trial.

Paid Plans: HotSchedules does not publish prices on their website.

6. Deputy

Deputy

Deputy was born in 2008 to schedule staff efficiently, and encourage communication among teams. Today, Deputy proudly serves businesses across all industries in 70+ countries, and provides instant scheduling solutions to save owners and managers time.

Key Features:

  • Efficient scheduling and shift creation;
  • Precise timekeeping and attendance tracking;
  • Streamlined communication and assistance with labor compliance;
  • Easy onboarding for increased staff engagement;
  • Pre-shift health checks to prevent the spread of illness.

Pros:

  • Makes scheduling a streamlined and efficient process;
  • Accurate timeclock feature alerts managers when staff remains on the job more than five minutes after their shift ends;
  • Simple UI and easy to learn;
  • Easy to make and upload templates;
  • Cost-effective and affordable.

Cons:

  • Scheduling performs certain actions automatically, even if not applicable;
  • Cannot filter locations, which occasionally makes it slow to load;
  • Does not sync with Google calendar;
  • Android app doesn’t provide as many features as iPhone app.

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Deputy:

  • Capterra – 4.7/5
  • G2 – 4.7/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.5/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.8/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: 1 Month Free Trial.

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Scheduling plan is available for $2.50 a user per month.
  • The Time and Attendance plan is available for $2.50 a user per month.
  • The Premium plan is available for $4.5o a user per month.
  • The Enterprise plan is available for an undisclosed price.

7) Planday

Planday

Planday was born in a Danish bar more than twelve years ago, where its founders brainstormed a scheduling and communication tool that would simplify processes for business. Currently, Planday has 180 happy employees and six offices worldwide. Among their values and focuses are authenticity, scale, achievement, collaboration, and empowerment

Key Features:

  • Use schedule templates for efficient scheduling, or save your own schedule to use as a future template;
  • Compliance warnings and updates to alert managers when an employee is scheduled for too many hours, shifts are too close together, etc.;
  • Employee groups and department separation enables qualified employees to pick up specific shifts pertaining to skill set (i.e. certified yoga instructors can pick up a yoga class);
  • Managers can give their employees as much or as little autonomy over their schedules as desired, saving managers time;
  • Accessible app that works from wherever you are.

Pros:

  • User-friendly app that employees love;
  • Responsive and helpful customer service and tech personnel;
  • Easy division of employees by skill and department so shifts can be offered to qualified staff members;
  • Ability to toggle back and forth between employee and manager view (“position view”);
  • Simple navigation.

Cons:

  • Scheduling could use some improvements (i.e. if an employee is unavailable to work on Tuesdays for the next three months, these restrictions must be recorded manually, rather than selected for a date range);
  • WiFi is essential to experience all features;
  • Users have reported some glitches with certain features (i.e. daily reports and scheduling).

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Planday:

  • Capterra – 4.4/5
  • G2 – 4.5/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.4/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.5/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: 1 Month Free Trial.

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Starter plan is available for $2 a user per month.
  • The Plus plan is available for $4 a user per month.
  • The Enterprise plan is available for an undisclosed price.

8) Push Operations

Push Operations

Push Operations was founded by a chartered accountant who ran his own business for eleven years. Push Operations prides itself on providing the most flexible and comprehensive payroll service for specific industries, integrating with the leading POS systems, and giving clients configurable reports to make more strategic business decisions

Key Features:

  • Hiring, promoting, or offboarding tasks;
  • Labor optimization and planning from any location;
  • Employee hourly calculation;
  • Labor cost recovery;
  • Real-time analytics to avoid overstaffing or understaffing.

Pros:

  • Intuitive and attractive UI that is easily navigable;
  • Restaurant managers can prepare schedules intelligently (integrating with their POS system);
  • Mobile timeclock where employees can clock in directly (and captures photo of employee at time of clock-in);
  • Automatic payroll calculation, including worked hours, blended overtime rates, tip credits, taxes, etc.
  • Caters to restaurants.

Cons:

  • Some discrepancies between functionality on phones and tablets vs. computer;
  • Navigating user permissions and categories can be confusing;
  • Drafts of messages are not saved once the screen times out;
  • Pages occasionally lag and take some time to load.

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Push Operations:

  • Capterra – 4.6/5
  • G2 – 4.4/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.5/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.2/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: No

Paid Plans: Push Operations does not publish prices on their website.

9) Sling

Sling

Sling has been helping businesses simplify their operations since 2015. Founded in Reykjavik, Iceland, the company sought to maximize mobility and empower employees in the deskless workforce. Their mission is to equip businesses with the tools they need to focus on people, not paperwork. Since the company’s birth, Sling has expanded to locations in New York, Los Angeles, Poland, Spain, Australia, and Canada.

Key Features:

  • Labor cost analysis to optimize spending;
  • Exportable timesheets for efficient payroll processing;
  • Centralized messaging for streamlined communication and engaged staff;
  • Tasks may be added to shifts to encourage employee accountability;
  • Simple platform integration to save time when scheduling and processing payroll.

Pros:

  • Software is straightforward and user-friendly;
  • Easy access enables schedule and message distribution;
  • Good customer support;
  • Timesheets may be edited (i.e. if an employee forgets to clock in);
  • Allows maximum scheduling organization (i.e. coding staff for different positions; setting recurring shift times).

Cons:

  • Navigation requires a bit of a learning curve;
  • No clock-out time recorded for employees;
  • Employees cannot post a shift for coverage (manager functionality only);
  • Some discrepancies between computer and mobile program (i.e. monthly schedule is only viewable on desktop).

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Sling:

  • Capterra – 4.5/5
  • G2 – 4.2/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.7/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.7/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes — includes scheduling and internal communication for unlimited users and locations, plus support and mobile functionality.

Paid Plans: Two.

  • The Premium plan is available for $2 a user per month.
  • The Business plan is available for $4 a user per month.

10) Zoomshift

Zoomshift

Zoomshift was founded by two Wisconsin natives in 2009, and was launched by the digital marketing agency Tailwind Creative. Both founders had the goal of developing a product that gave business owners the tools to solve staff scheduling problems. Since its humble beginnings, Zoomshift has grown into a software product that services companies like Amazon and Fox. It’s a favorite for retailers, restaurant owners, and other deskless workforce niches.

Key Features:

  • Efficient scheduling (i.e. ability to copy work schedules, encourages employees to swap shifts directly, and more);
  • Time tracking with GPS and mobile time clocks to ensure employees start and finish shifts on site;
  • Ability to block early clock-ins, overtime, and edit missed punches;
  • Alerts employees prior to their shift to reduce no-shows;
  • Schedule sharing via emails, messages, and push.

Pros:

  • Fast and helpful customer service;
  • Displays total number of hours worked per week per employee, to comply with schedule caps;
  • Greater employee accountability due to alerts before shifts;
  • Easy-to-use UI.

Cons:

  • Limited color blocking options for positions;
  • Employees cannot message billing liaison directly;
  • Load time could be faster;
  • Most program features are not available offline;
  • There are some discrepancies between the app’s functionality and desktop version (i.e. ability to open or create new shifts is only available on computer version).

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Zoomshift:

  • Capterra – 4.5/5
  • G2 – 4.8/5
  • Google Play Store – 3.9/5
  • Apple App Store – 3/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: 14-Day Free Trial for any of the below plans.

Paid Plans: Two.

  • The Starter plan is available for $2 a user per month.
  • The Premium plan is available for $4 a user per month.
  • The Enterprise plan is available for an undisclosed price.

11) OpenSimSim

Opensimsim

OpenSimSim offers software scheduling specifically for restaurants, so owners and managers can make decisions for their business based on centralized information. Their hospitality expertise has helped them provide customers with knowledge and insights into the restaurant industry.

Key Features:

  • Simple employee schedule adjustments (Android, iOS, and web app capabilities);
  • Private and group messaging capabilities;
  • Easily-shareable schedules;
  • Automatic shift alerts for employees before a shift begins;
  • Labor cost tracking to predict and prepare for future labor needs.

Pros:

  • Great customer service with online chat;
  • Straightforward view of schedules, and simple schedule creation;
  • Ability to message entire staff, or a handful of employees;
  • App is free to download;
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use software;
  • Updates staff automatically when scheduling changes are made.

Cons:

  • Few account integration options with other software;
  • Tutorials are completely from an employer’s perspective, which makes onboarding employees more difficult;
  • Weekly schedule change notifications are sent to all staff, rather than just the staff that are on the schedule that week;
  • Messaging feature could use better organization.

What People Think About Managing Schedules with OpenSimSim:

  • Capterra – 4.5/5
  • G2 – 4.8/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.1/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.6/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes — includes messaging, scheduling, and time clock capabilities for one location and up to 10 scheduled workers.

Paid Plans: Several.

  • The Starter plan is available for $12.99 per month.
  • The Premium plan is available for $33.99 per month.
  • The Enterprise plan is available for an undisclosed price.

12) Crew 

Crew App

Crew App aims to provide employees and leaders with a streamlined digital workplace, storing all of the information they need to get work done together. Crew was founded to help businesses increase growth, and reduce turnover with improved communication and organization.

Key Features:

  • Team communication to keep employees connected and engaged;
  • Shift coverage, where employees can request swaps and changes with manager approval;
  • Employee recognition, where staff members are recognized for outstanding performance;
  • Analytics for better business decisions;
  • Compliance assistance and information.

Pros:

  • Scheduling and communication among staff are efficient and simple;
  • Ability to set up meetings and chat with specific staff members;
  • Keeps employee phone numbers private while ensuring everyone is accessible;
  • Any organization can use Crew’s features;
  • Free to use;
  • Easy to use and navigate.

Cons:

  • All changing power belongs exclusively to admins;
  • Constant notifications require muting every time someone sends a message (i.e. group chats);
  • Constant notifications to purchase the full version of the app, and frequent customer service check-ins which become overbearing;
  • Some portions of the app are not especially user-friendly (i.e. schedule building).

What People Think About Managing Schedules with Crew:

  • Capterra – 4.8/5
  • G2 – 4.2/5
  • Google Play Store – 4.1/5
  • Apple App Store – 4.7/5

Pricing:

Free Plan: Yes — includes basic features for up to 35 users.

Paid Plans: Two.

  • The Pro plan is available for $30 per month.
  • The Enterprise plan is available for an undisclosed price.

What Are the Benefits of A Restaurant Scheduling Software?

1. Employee Schedules Are Accessible Anytime

With a restaurant scheduling software, your employees can access and view the schedule right on their mobile phones. When any changes is made to the schedule, your employees will get notified right away of the changes. This eliminates all the confusion and miscommunication that a paper schedule can cause.

2. Easy Shift Swap Changes

A restaurant scheduling app empowers your staff to to easily trade shifts with one another. They’ll no longer have to call or text you for any shift swap changes, and all you need to do is to approve the shift swap and the schedule will quickly reflect the changes. You’ll no longer have to recreate the schedule each time a shift swap happens.

3. Saves You Hours Of Time

Creating a schedule on a spreadsheet can take a few hours a week. A restaurant scheduling software can help reduce that to a just a few minutes a week so you can spend your time focusing on what really matters.

4. Easily Request Time Off

With a spreadsheet or paper schedule, employees would have to text or call to request time off. This can quickly cause confusion on the schedule when multiple employees request time off and have no easy way to track all the requests. A restaurant scheduling software helps you track all the time off requests in one centralized place and ensures that you do not schedule them when they are unavailable to work.

5. Reduce No Shows

The biggest benefit of a restaurant scheduling software is reducing no shows at your restaurant. A restaurant scheduling software automatically notify and reminds all your employees of their upcoming shifts, and if they cannot make their shift, they can easily communicate and make shift swaps when needed.

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