This post was contributed by Homebase, a free employee management solution for the restaurant industry. Homebase allows your entire team to stay connected through cloud-based shift scheduling and time tracking. Find them here.

Managing a bar can be an extremely stressful job, whether you’re new or a seasoned professional.

Not only do you need to have a hand in everything, from inventory to staff training, but you also have to be prepared to act as a walking customer service advocate when things go sour. One of the best ways to ensure things run smoothly on your watch is to make smart staff scheduling decisions. Here are some tips that can help save you stress and aggravation on those long, busy nights.

Schedule Your Staff Members According to Their Strengths

Do you have a friendly but somewhat scatterbrained waiter on staff? What about a bartender who knows how to whip up a mean cocktail but perpetually fails to muster a smile? While your staff members may be starting off with a limited skill set, over time, they’re likely to learn the ropes and up their game. Until then, take advantage of your staff members’ respective strengths and schedule them for the times they’ll be most effective.

For example, if you have a bartender who’s friendly and eager but painfully slow, give him the Monday night shift, and put Mr. Unfriendly Bartender, who pours drinks at lightning speed, front and center on Friday and Saturday nights. Have a super-efficient barback who really knows his stuff? Throw him into the mix during weekday happy hours, when your place tends to be buzzing. You’ve got plenty of time to help your staff members improve, so for now, do what you need to do to keep things moving.

Assign Tasks for Each Shift

Before your staffers show up for a shift, they should know exactly what’s expected of them. When you set your schedule, assign specific tasks for each shift so there’s no confusion as to who’s doing what. For example, have those working the opening shift set up tables and chairs and prep your garnishes, and have your closing staff be responsible for refrigerating all open mixes and juices and rearranging your top shelf liquor display. You can divvy up these tasks as you see fit, but the key is to assign them by shift and do so in advance.

Implement Performance-Based Scheduling

Most of your staffers would probably rather work a weekend than a weeknight since there’s more opportunity for tips. To avoid being accused of playing favorites, create a performance-based schedule where those who do their jobs well get those coveted shifts, and those who slack get stuck working Mondays and afternoons. Not only is this fair for employees, it’ll be good for your customers and your establishment.

Publish Staff Schedules in Advance

Your staffers have lives, too, so the earlier you give them their work schedules, the better they can plan. Rather than wait till the week before to post your work schedule, present this information weeks in advance. This way, if someone has a conflict, you’ll have plenty of time to shift things around or find a replacement. Scheduling in advance also shows your staffers that you value their time and aren’t looking to catch them off guard with any surprises, and if all goes well, they’ll return the favor by showing up on time and as expected. (Besides, they won’t really have an excuse not to.)

Managing a bar can be tricky work, but if you’re smart about scheduling, you can do your part to ensure you don’t run into too many snags. And with any luck, your staff members will appreciate the effort you’re putting in and step up to help further your efforts.

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