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Buffalo Wild Wings Save Significant Time & Labor with Web-based Scheduling


With a restaurant the size of the Buffalo Wild Wings (B-Dubs) franchise in Brea, CA, there are also challenges to managing labor costs and ensuring the staff stays informed and connected. “We’ve got a large employee base of about 170 employees, as well as a complex layout, with cashiers, bartenders, servers, on both floors of the establishment,” says Vivian Neubauer, general manager, Buffalo Wild Wings.

“It’s a lot to manage. Separate employee schedules are created for each group, and then must be created again for the second floor. Additionally, we generated and printed the “starting line-up,” noting the location of each staff member.”

To create those schedules, managers were using spreadsheets, and then printing them out and posting them in the store. Availabilities and requests off were scribbled on post-it notes or written into the request off book, but often, requests were lost or inadvertently overlooked. The company is in close proximity to UC Fullerton, so a lot of college students are employed. And, since their schedules frequently change, managers had to keep track of this manually, too.

Once completed, the schedule was posted on Thursdays, but by Sunday, it was a mess. Covered in hand-written scribbles of shift releases, shift pick-ups, manager sign offs and the like, it’s no wonder it was practically illegible. What’s more, tracking overtime was next to impossible. With so many changes hand-written on the schedule, it was difficult to tell which staff members might slip into overtime. “Managers really had to watch for it very closely and it was difficult to catch,” says Neubauer.

Taking Off with HotSchedules

Neubauer went in search of a solution, and found the answer right in her own store. Speaking to one of her managers, she learned about HotSchedules, a web-based scheduling and communications tool that is designed to simplify the scheduling process, reduce labor costs and amplify employee communications.

Neubauer called HotSchedules and got a demonstration set-up right away. Within days, she made the decision to move forward with HotSchedules Team and Digital Logbook solutions and quickly got set-up and trained by the HotSchedules staff. “In addition to training all our managers on how to use the solution, the HotSchedules team created all the scheduling categories for me and showed me how to use them. It made it so easy to get up and running quickly,” Neubauer says.

She also noted early on how helpful the HotSchedules support desk was to her and her staff. Notes Neubauer, if she called with a question, someone either answered or called her back immediately; which gave her confidence in knowing HotSchedules was extremely reliable.

Speedy Scheduling

The first thing Neubauer and her managers noticed was the extreme reduction in time it took to create and maintain employee schedules. The staff’s permanent availabilities are built into the system and immediately reflected in the schedule templates. Requests off have to be made in HotSchedules in order to be considered, so managers no longer have to go looking for those either.

Now, when the schedules are finalized, they are pushed out to the staff through HotSchedules, where any changes or updates are also managed. Neubauer says that her employees are thrilled with the new implementation, adding that most of her workers use their phone to get their schedule and to put in requests for shift releases or trades.

Furthermore, says Neubauer, “If they go out the night before, and they find they need to release their early shift, they do so with a few clicks. If a family emergency pops up, they can release their shift and it gets picked up right away.

Another big time-saver HotSchedules brought to B-Dubs was in the elimination of manually typing out and printing their starting line-up. Because that line-up was constantly in flux due to last minute shift trades and other changes, it had to be double-checked, typed out and posted immediately before the start of the shift.

Neubauer notes, “I love HotSchedules’ Daily Roster Report. That thing is genius. Before HotSchedules, someone had to type up each starting line-up of who’s where and on which floor and which shift. It took at least an hour just to do that every day. But, not anymore because HotSchedules does all that for us,” says Neubauer. “All we have to do is click print when we walk in.”

Out with Overtime

Perhaps even more important than the time savings in creating and maintaining the schedule is the greater visibility into critical labor-saving mechanisms. Now that shift trades are maintained in HotSchedules, mangers receive alerts when a shift change will throw someone into overtime.

Additionally, since B-Dub’s employs a ranking system that is tracked in HotSchedules, there are no longer issues swapping highly experienced staff with those who are less experienced. “During peak sales hours, we need our best and most experienced staff on the floor. With HotSchedules, I can rest assured that there won’t be accidental shift trades that leave my top-talent on the side lines.”

Champions of Connectivity

Also vastly improved through the introduction of HotSchedules is the ease of communications the staff and managers now enjoy. Not only do employees communicate amongst themselves through the HotSchedules portal, but managers can now post Broadcast Messages about important events or key information.

For managers, the Digital Logbook (DLB) has revolutionized the way they tracked employee performance and made important shift notations. Because the DLB can be accessed online or via smartphone, managers have a far greater ability to add notes or search for content at any time. And, since the content is all date-bound and spell checked, it’s a great resource for clear, crisp documentation.

For Neubauer, the ability to jump onto HotSchedules and see what’s going on, what is being communicated, and take care of tasks has proven more than just convenient. It has enabled her to be a more effective general manager.


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