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Forecasting sales and scheduling employees

Scheduling at Hard Rock Cafe

Whether it's scheduling nurses at Mayo Clinic, pilots at Southwest Airlines, classrooms at UCLA, or servers at a Hard Rock Cafe, it's clear that good scheduling is important. Proper schedules use an organization's assets (1) more effectively, by serving customers promptly, and (2) more efficiently, by lowering costs.

Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Studios, Orlando, is the world's largest restaurant, with 1,100 seats on two main levels. With typical turnover of employees in the restaurant industry at 80% to 100% per year, Hard Rock General Manager Ken Hoffman takes scheduling very seriously. Hoffman wants his 160 servers to be effective, but he also wants to treat them fairly. He has done so with scheduling software and flexibility that has increased productivity, while contributing to turnover that is half the industry's. His goal is to find the fine balance that gives employees financially productive daily work shifts, while at the same time, setting the schedule tight enough so as to not overstaff between lunch and dinner.

The weekly schedule begins with a sales forecast. "First, we examine last year's sales at the cafe for the same day of the week," says Hoffman. "Then we adjust our forecast for this year based on a variety of closely watched factors. For example, we call the Orlando Convention Bureau every week to see what major groups will be in town. Then we send two researchers out to check on the occupancy of nearby hotels. We watch closely to see what concerts are scheduled at Hard Rock Live- the 3,000-seat concert stage next door. From the forecast, we calculate how any people we need to have on duty each day for the kitchen, the bar, as hosts, and for table service."

Once Hard Rock determines the number of staff needed, servers submit request forms, which are fed into the software's linear programming mathematical model. Individuals are given priority rankings from 1 to 9 based on their seniority and how important they are to fill each day's schedule. Schedules are then posted by day and by workstation. Trades are handled between employees, who understand the value of each specific shift and station.

Hard Rock employees like the system, as does the general manager, since sales per man-hour are rising and turnover is dropping.

1. Name and justify several factors that Hoffman could use in forecasting weekly sales.

2. What can be done to lower turnover in large restaurants?

3. Why is seniority important in scheduling servers?

4. How does the schedule impact productivity and quality?

Please include any reference material used. Thanks!

Solution Preview


To forecast weekly sales you can look at last year's sales. In doing this it is important to note the day of the week that the number corresponds to, considering the 1st and 15th (typically paydays) and weekends, holidays as bigger sales opportunities. Also, you would want to factor in growth and schedule employees accordingly.

In addition, it would be wise to take into account the economy. Since this restaurant is in a tourist spot one would need to keep an eye on the GDP, national employment rates, and tourism information. Here is a link to a more detailed way of calculating forecasts:

Considering special events ...

Solution Summary

This detailed solution reviews how to forecast sales and reduce turnover in order to accurately plan employee's work schedules. It also discusses the importance of accounting for seniority, and shows why scheduling employees well is critical to productivity and quality of the operation.