How Many Restaurant Employees Do You Need?

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Labor, SMART Systems

By David Scott Peters

How many times have you asked your management team if they have enough people hired to fill the schedule and they waved you away with an impatient, “yes”? But the next thing you know your managers are running around like chickens with their heads cut off because someone quit, got fired, went to jail or just plain disappeared — and low and behold you’re short staffed.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. Why? Because young managers don’t understand what it really means to be fully staffed vs. just having enough people to cover shifts.

So how many employees is enough? To figure that out, you first have to understand what an FTE is.

FTE stands for “full-time equivalent,” meaning how many people it takes to equal one full-time person. For back-of-house staff, such as cooks, dishwashers, etc., one FTE equals 40 hours. If you have two part-time cooks who both work 20 hours a week, together they equal one FTE. So for every back-of-house employee who can work 40 hours, they equal one FTE.

For front-of-house staff, such as servers, hosts, bussers, runners, etc., one FTE equals five shifts. If you have two part-time servers — one who can work three shifts a week and one who can work only two shifts a week — that’s five shifts and together they equal one FTE. The reason to use shifts and not hours for front-of-house is most restaurants have servers who will never work a total of 40 hours a week, even if they work all seven days. Every front-of-house employee who can work five shifts a week equals one FTE.

Two tips to make the FTE principle work for you:
– Use a master schedule
– Hire two more FTEs than you need

David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, coach, trainer and speaker, specializing in teaching independent restaurant owners how to use systems for increased sales and increased profits. He is the nationally acclaimed restaurant coach whose unique “SMART Systems” approach to boosting profits has earned him the title of, “The man who can walk into any restaurant in America and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door – Guaranteed!” Visit for more. Learn more tips, tricks and secrets in David’s free five-part e-course, “How to Explode Your Restaurant Profits NOW!” Simply sign up to receive the e-course at

Recommended Posts