Determining Your Restaurant’s Staff Size


How many people should you hire to help you run your restaurant?

Staffing is a critical concern that directly affects your restaurant’s operations. When your establishment is understaffed, your team will be overworked, and morale may be low. Plus, it may take longer than usual to produce customer orders.

On the converse side of the coin, hiring too many people can lead to a sizeable expense.

How do you find the right balance without compromising productivity and cost?

Factors to consider in determining staff size

In deciding how many people to hire, there are no set rules that you can follow. Each establishment has different needs and conditions, and the strategies used by one restaurant may not necessarily work for another.

There are, however, a few critical factors that you need to consider for this crucial hiring decision. These include your menu, the type of service you offer, the average number of meals you serve, the number of meal periods, your restaurant’s layout, and total man-hours.

Here’s a brief look at each of these. You should consider thesze factors while renovating your small business.


The more items you have on your restaurant menu and the more complex these are to produce, the higher your man-hours will be. You can shave a few hours from prep and cook time by using convenience foods. However, the lower number of hours might mean that you are trading off quality.

Type of service

Again, look at your menu. If you have dishes that are complicated to prepare and cook, the projected man-hours will be higher compared to that of an establishment that serves fast food.

Number of meals

On average, how many meals do you serve on a given day? Know that to function optimally, you should have the minimum number of staff on board. Otherwise, you risk getting customer complaints as well as an increase in your labor cost.

Restaurant design and layout

In some restaurants, kitchen layout comes as an afterthought, with the front of the house placed on top of the hierarchy of the restaurant design.

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This means that the back of the house is poorly laid out, and the kitchen cannot accommodate a sufficient amount of people to work there. It can also mean that storage areas are not accessible, thus creating more time wasted.

Conversely, if you have invested in tools and equipment, preparation and cooking time can be substantially reduced. As such, your manpower requirement may not be as high compared to a kitchen where everything is done manually.

Your restaurant’s environment also has a direct impact on the productivity of your personnel. By design, kitchens often end up being loud and humid. And if you do not take sufficient measures to improve these qualities, your staff may be subjected to unnecessary stress that hampers their productivity.


How many hours do your staff need to work? If your workers put in long hours with little to no opportunities to take a break and recover, you could see a marked dive in productivity and morale. Furthermore, if you are understaffed, your crew has to work harder to keep up with customer demand.

Determining your manpower needs

Before you can determine how many people to hire for your restaurant, you need to be aware of how much time is required to prep and cook each dish. Having this invaluable information at hand allows you to compute productivity standards.

To compute for the productivity standards, you need to measure it in either labor hours or labor dollars. Labor hours refer to the time required to cook a dish while labor dollars refer to the amount of money needed to pay a worker to cook the same dish.

You or your manager can then use the labor hours to determine how many people you will need for each shift.

As for scheduling your staff, you will need to look at your sales to determine your peak hours. This will help you make sure that you have enough workers during your establishment’s busiest hours.

In order to maximize productivity while keeping costs low, there are a few strategies you can use:

  • You could stagger employee schedules. This helps you ensure you have enough people for your busiest hours.
  • You might also want to consider to bring in part-time workers who can come in for shorter periods to help during peak hours. Alternatively, they could come in for special occasions with high volume orders or when a staff member goes on leave.
  • Finally, consider the capabilities and preferences of each of your workers so you can maximize their performance.
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However, even with well-laid-out plans, certain things can turn said plans askew. A team member could suddenly come down with an illness. A staff member may not show up. There may be a low volume of orders.

Always be prepared for such situations and put contingency measures into place to minimize the effects of these occurrences on your productivity and costs.

Revisit and review

Once you have found the right number of people to operate your restaurant, your job is still not done.

  • From time to time, you need to review your staff’s productivity and performance.
  • At the same time, evaluate your processes and look for alternatives which can translate to lower costs without compromising productivity.
  • Consider providing staff with training to boost skills. You might also want to give some staff members secondary tasks they can perform during off-peak hours.
  • Finally, take into account any recent changes which may have an impact on your workforce requirements.

In some instances, you cannot reduce your labor cost, and you may have no other recourse but to increase prices to keep your business profitable. But before you increase prices, you should look at a few critical factors. First, you must survey the competition and assess whether an increase will keep your establishment competitive.

Next, check your labor cost against food costs. In some instances, the labor cost may be higher than your initial projection, while the food cost may be substantially lower. In such a scenario, the smaller food cost can compensate for the higher labor cost.

No easy task

Determining the right number of people to help you run your restaurant is by no means an easy task. However, if you put in the time and effort and you choose your workers carefully, you will be rewarded immensely.


Ahmad Alzaini is the co-founder and CEO of Foodics, a fast-growing foodtech startup. A businessman by nature, Alzaini is an app aficionado, developing businesses in Saudi Arabia within several industries. Today, Foodics has extended to new markets across the MENA region, processing over 1 billion transactions, and offering the latest technology in POS and restaurant management.


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