Running your hospitality business with a skeleton team

Megan Lipscombe

Megan Lipscombe

Head of Marketing

With staff shortages at a record high, hospitality businesses have been facing staff availability challenges for a number of months now. In this blog we take a look at some of the things you can be doing to help successfully run your business, when you’re operating with a skeleton team…


Yes it’s January, but we’re not suggesting we send your team off to the gym. 

If you’re low on employee numbers, it might be worth training your team in multiple areas. This will give you more flexibility when availability is poor. If, for example, you train a runner to be able to make simple drinks, you’ll have more wiggle room when building your staff rota. With more training you’re more likely to be able to have the right people with the right skillset working, even if you have a smaller team than you’d like. 

More generally, a well trained team will be able to work more efficiently. And a cross-trained team will have a better understanding of one another’s roles; enabling them to chip in and help in different scenarios.

Invest in retention & promote progression

Typically a lot of emphasis is being placed on recruitment in the hospitality industry. And rightly so given the staff shortages so many are currently facing. But what about the wonderful people you already have working for you? Hospitality has typically bad retention rates, as many people see the roles as being temporary – a stepping stone to a long term career elsewhere. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of visibility over opportunities to progress. 

By promoting the internal opportunities available to your team, and providing them with the tools they need to get there, your existing employees are more likely to stay with you for longer. This will help you save time and money on recruitment, and build a team that has years of experience in your business; giving you a solid foundation for growing your team in the future.

For more tips on employee retention, check out our blog ‘Employee retention in hospitality – insights from industry experts’

Manage customer expectations  

Naturally you’ll always want to deliver an exceptional level of customer service. But with a limited number of employees the speed at which it’s delivered may be a little slower than usual. If you think this is going to be the case, then let your customers know. As with most instances in life, communication is key. If your customers know what’s going on, they’re far more likely to be understanding of the situation.

Utilise technology 

When employee numbers are low, technology is going to be your employees’ best friend. There are many day-to-day tasks carried out by hospitality employees that could be replaced, or made more efficient, by technology. We’re not talking about replacing employees with tech; simply using tech to reduce the number of manual processes your team needs to carry out. Whilst there’s a financial investment involved here, technology can be a long term solution in helping you operate more efficiently. And the right tech will scale with your business too.

Here are some examples of where tech could help…

Rota software

With intelligent rota software such as Rotaready, your team can build accurate rotas informed by staff availability, anticipated demand and seasonality in just a few clicks. These rotas can then be shared and updated in real-time; saving your team precious time to spend on other areas of the business.

Handheld order & pay

Giving your customers the option to order and pay from their mobile device can free up a significant amount of time for your employees. An EPOS solution that makes this possible will also help you get greater control over your costs by giving you real-time visibility of sales.

Reservation system

Using a reservation system will help give you an accurate idea of how busy you’ll be on any given day. If you encourage customers to make bookings in advance, you’ll have a good idea of how busy you’re going to be and be able to brief your team ahead of each shift. You may find yourself in a situation where you have to prioritise reservations over walk-ins; but at least you can prepare accordingly.

Payroll/tracking attendance

How much time do you waste on tracking attendance, holiday and calculating payroll? With a solution such as Rotaready you can effortlessly track time and attendance, feed this data directly into your payroll solution and ensure payroll accuracy without investing hours of your time.

Here’s a bit more on benefits from replacing manual processes with tech.

Integrated solutions 

If you integrate your business solutions you’ll only ever need to collect and input data once. Removing the need for your team to input the same data into different systems. This will free up even more time for your employees, enabling them to invest time elsewhere when you’re limited on numbers. For example, integrating your staff scheduling solution with your payroll solution can help save you hours on processing payroll, as well as improving payroll accuracy.

This goes hand in hand with productivity. Not only does time saving help increase productivity, having solutions in place that ‘speak to’ one another will help your employees stay well informed and work more efficiently as a result.

Here’s more on the benefits of integrated business solutions for hospitality

If you have any questions about any of the above, or would like more information on how Rotaready could help you free up time and operate more efficiently, then let us know at or get in touch via live chat.

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