- Toast POS
- Online Ordering
- Email Marketing
- Payroll & Team Management
How Harris’ Restaurant Made Smarter Scheduling Decisions to Cut Labor Costs and Save Time
Here's how Sling transformed operations for this San Francisco steakhouse.
Come 2021, Harris’ Restaurant, a fine dining steakhouse in San Francisco, CA, knew it was time for a change. The iconic restaurant has a long history – it’s been a steakhouse since 1934, and still holds that classic SF elegance with the mahogany bar, tall ceilings, high booths, and white tablecloths.
Marc Buhagiar, General Manager of Harris’, knew the restaurant needed a major technology overhaul before it reopened for service in 2020. “Things were being done the way they always had been for 20-30 years,” Marc explained. “These old models might be comfortable, but it makes everything hard.”
Harris’ switched from Aloha to Toast POS, and quickly added on additional services like Online Ordering and Email Marketing, allowing them to continue to serve their delicious steaks and keep customers coming back.
Saving time and money by consolidating vendors
In 2021, Marc and his brother David decided to take another look at their operations.
Slow, manual processes took up a large chunk of their time and slowed down the efficiency of the business. David, who was responsible for payroll, spent hours juggling multiple vendors and sending their labor hour report to their local payroll provider every two weeks. Scheduling wasn’t much easier for Marc – with paper schedules, notes stuck to a whiteboard, and both emails and texts for time-off requests – he was ready to uplevel his scheduling process with technology.
They made the decision to switch to Toast Payroll & Team Management and added the suite's newest feature, Scheduling, powered by Sling, and they haven’t looked back since.
“When I learned that Toast can handle payroll and scheduling, it was kind of a no-brainer to consolidate vendors to save on costs and time,” says Marc. “Between David and I, we’ve saved 15-20 hours a month. We used to spend a whole day doing payroll every two weeks.”
Not only did they save hours of time on administrative work, but they also saved money. “We tried a different automated scheduling solution prior to Toast, but it was expensive,” explained Marc. “Switching to Scheduling, powered by Sling, saved us at least $200 a month.”
Switching to Scheduling, powered by Sling, saved us at least $200 a month.
Easy scheduling, easy communication
“There are a lot of changes happening now with things being slow,” Marc said. “Between reading notes, communicating shift changes, and scheduling - I’ve cut my time spent on these scheduling tasks by 80 percent with Sling.”
The pandemic brought on scheduling challenges. Employees calling in sick, staffing shortages, and general slowness in business can make changes last minute and erratic. But Sling gave Marc a platform to easily schedule and communicate these changes with his team: employees can swap shifts independently and managers can approve these changes remotely.
“[Before], they would text all the managers all the time. Now with Sling, when they want to swap shifts or stations they can do it via Sling and I can just go on my phone and approve it. If I want to make a change, I can go in and make the change and the employees get an alert and everybody’s on the same page. It’s more organized.”
Sling not only gave Marc a platform to easily modify his schedules and ensure shifts are covered, but it transformed the way his team communicated. Employees can send messages in private or group conversations and Marc leverages the announcements feature to post important company-wide notices and reminders. Gone are the days of juggling phone, text, and emails to contact staff. Marc can now conveniently communicate with his team in one organized place.
“I don’t have to text seven different people. I can make the edits on my phone and everyone comes in and knows what they need to do,” he said.
Regardless of what type of restaurant you have, or how technology savvy your employees are, the systems are so easy to use.
Labor savings by leveraging better insights
Successfully managing a restaurant means having visibility into daily team operations and labor costs. Sling offers detailed reports so you can see how much each shift is costing you, including labor as a percent of sales for a given day. These insights give Marc a better understanding of the performance of the restaurant and his team, allowing him to make more informed and better staffing decisions.
Sling can help managers set their budget and notify them of potential overstaffing. Often, it’s the overtime costs that are driving labor costs and Sling not only helps you monitor your overtime spend, but gives you real time alerts to notify you of any excess hours.
“It’ll flag me if a server is on for 6 days in a row or it’ll alert me to say, ‘hey - this would be an overtime day’,” Marc explained. Although Harris’ is open primarily for dinner service, Marc finds this notification invaluable and notes it would be beneficial to larger restaurant groups.
“It definitely would be impactful for restaurants who are open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week,” said Marc. “Sling would redflag the overtime.”
You even have the ability to manage multiple locations within a single scheduling platform - giving you peace of mind knowing that you can monitor and control your labor costs with detailed reporting across multiple locations.
Focusing back on what matters
For Marc, restaurant technology is here to stay. Integrating his systems has saved him hours and money that he can now use to focus on other aspects of the business.
“Regardless of what type of restaurant you have, or how technology savvy your employees are, the systems are so easy to use,” Marc said. “Your time as a manager is money. If you can save 15-20 hours a month, you can be so much more productive with your time doing something more beneficial for your restaurant like spending more time on marketing or networking more.”