Apply These 10 Techniques to Create the Perfect Work Schedule for Your Small Business Team

10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Work Schedule for Your Small Business Team

Do you struggle with scheduling for your small businesses? You have must make sure all your shifts are covered. But you also need to optimize the schedule to ensure as many sales as possible. So you need to take tons of things into consideration. Then create the perfect employee schedule. And keep labor costs and time off requests in mind.

Creating the Perfect Work Schedule

Check out these 10 essential tips to help you create a schedule that works for your business and your team. They’ll help you create employee shifts for your small business

Determine Your Staffing Needs

Scheduling is a balance. You need to have enough employees there to handle the workload during each shift. But if you schedule too many, you could end up wasting time and money.

Jacey Mitchell, inbound marketing specialist for scheduling software ShiftNote said in an email to Small Business Trends, “When creating a schedule, it’s important to ensure you have enough staff to capture all available sales, but NOT have any wasted labor expense.”

Analyze Sales Forecasts and Expenses

In order to create that balance, you need to really dig into the numbers. You need to look at sales and income during each particular shift so you know how to optimize those opportunities. And you need to compare them to your labor costs during those shifts. Consider both past numbers and projections when making these decisions.

Mitchell says, “Planning in advance is crucial as well as looking over projected labor, scheduled labor, and last years sales.”

Know Relevant Regulations

Different states and local communities have different regulations when it comes to employee scheduling. For example, New York and a few other states have laws that require employers to pay employees who are “on call” for shifts. This could be especially pertinent to restaurants or cafes with outdoor seating, since their staffing needs may change with the weather.

You need to familiarize yourself with the regulations that are pertinent to your business so you can take those factors into account in your forecasting and scheduling. You want to remain compliant and also make decisions based on the most accurate data possible.

Get Input from Your Team

Mitchell says, “Of course, you also must be aware of employee availability and requests for time off to create your schedules correctly.”

It’s important to set up an actual system for employees to submit these requests so you or your management team who handles scheduling can access the information when they go to lay out shifts for the week.

Give Team Members the Opportunity to Customize

You should also have a system for employees to communicate with one another. This can let them switch shifts or make changes without requiring a ton of extra work from your management team. Tools like ShiftNote give you a forum for this type of communication.

Mitchell says, “ShiftNote gives employees more responsibility for shift swaps, RTO, and availability in order to make managers’ lives easier (all they have to do is approve changes).”

Focus on High Volume Sales Times

It’s also important to consider quality when it comes to your high volume sales shifts. Employees that tend to get positive results during those times should usually be given priority for those shifts.

Mitchell explains, “Always be prepared for high volume service times by putting your aces in their places and scheduling your team for success. The goal is to schedule your best staff for your best sales days and use slower sales days to cross train employees on other positions.”

Increase Accountability

It’s important to always keep an eye on sales numbers and other analytics to find out what’s working well and what’s not. Not only does this help you create more effective schedules over time, but it can also help you increase accountability among your team. If a particular shift leader or sales rep doesn’t do as well as others during a particular shift, it may be worth diving into the numbers or having a conversation to find out why.

Use Templates

Once you’ve created a schedule that seems to work for your team and your business, use it as a template for future schedules. You’ll always have to make adjustments, of course. But using it as a starting point can save you a ton of time through the years and give your team a sense of consistency.

Gather Feedback

You should also continue to gather feedback from employees periodically. This doesn’t just mean allowing them to submit requests for time off or shift changes. You should also survey them or speak with them on occasion to find out if they have input about what type of schedule would make them most effective. For example, some people may be at their most productive during early shifts, or others may have issues when scheduled for a day shift after a night shift. Learning these little intricacies can help you dramatically improve your scheduling over time.

Find the Right Tool

An employee scheduling software can make a huge difference in the efficiency of your scheduling process. ShiftNote is one option. But there are plenty of tools available.

Be sure to carefully evaluate your business’s specific needs and find a tool that includes every feature you use on a regular basis. Specifically, Mitchell recommends prioritizing communication features between employees and managers, as well as accountability features and sales and labor forecasting.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.