Adventure Facility Concepts and Management

To schedule or not to schedule?

Actually, that is not even the right question – the real one is how to schedule staff so we can minimize the payroll expense while keeping the same awesome experience for your Guests?

It is not a big secret – as an operator of Family entertainment center, your biggest expenses will be rent/mortgage and the payroll. Your employees are and will always be one of the most, if not the most valuable intangible asset. Surrounding with the right people, allowing them to grow and develop, will help your bottom line and be an indispensable part of your business journey. Finding the right people is just the first step of the never-ending process of managing people, keeping them happy, while managing the business expenses. Here is a quick overview of the best practices to keep the cost down and improve employee satisfaction:

Safety first
If I need to emphasize on one and only one rule, it is – “Safety first!”. Never, ever, compromise safety to save a few dollars. One little incident and you may not only be liable for imposing your Guest to negligence risk but also have your business name destroyed, your insurance may go up significantly, etc.

Employee scheduling is a strategic process
Scheduling employees at Family entertainment center is a balancing act and one that many managers find daunting. The task of employee scheduling is vital to the success of your business – over schedule, and your bottom line suffers, under schedule, and your customers suffer. Make scheduling employees a priority. Set aside a day or several days to create a schedule. It gives your employees a consistency and helps you control labor costs while ensuring great service. It’s important to establish a scheduling process. Set a deadline for schedule requests, and in turn, offer the schedule in a timely fashion.

Set clear expectations
Make it clear during the hiring process how you conduct scheduling at your business. Make the parameters understandable so your employees know how you’ll do it. Next, make sure you are familiar with your full and part-time staff members’ schedules. With more and more part-time staff members, scheduling can be a tough process. For example, if you have students on staff, you’ll want to be aware of their scheduling needs so you can plan appropriately.

Know your team
The first step to effectively schedule your employees is to make a list of ALL of them. Indicate if they are part-time or full-time, their availability and position. Determine the resources needed for each role by location and shift duration. It seems obvious but if you need 2 front desk members, don’t schedule 4, and take the hours from the facilitators.

Make the schedule easily accessible
We recommend posting/e-mailing the schedule on Thursday night at the latest. Make sure you place the schedule in a visible place, preferably in the employees’ room.

Plan B
It’s a good idea to have a plan B. You want to be covered if something goes wrong – an employee calls sick, doesn’t show up or a group calls in the last moment. It doesn’t mean to overschedule, but to schedule employees who can cover a few different positions. In other words, versatile employees should have priority.

Know your local law
It’s important to know the local labor laws and its details – for example – the hours you can schedule someone, the minimum age of employees, the specific rules for minor employees, etc.

Measure, learn and adjust
Last, but not least. Don’t feel obligated to schedule ALL employees for the same hours of a shift. If the afternoon shift is 8 hours, you may need to schedule some people for all 8h., but some just for 4h., if the late evening is slow and you don’t need as many employees as during the day.

Variables to consider
Here are a few variables to consider when you are preparing the schedule:

Last year data:

  • Look into the available data from last year or other comparable businesses. It should give you a good starting idea of what to expect and how to manage the scheduling.
  • Don’t forget to look into the specifics of the available data: were there any big groups which may have increased the sales, how was the weather, was there a holiday on this day, was there any event which may have affected the sales.


  • Usually, if the weather is not nice /rain, light snow, etc./ people tend to look for indoor activities. And vice versa when the weather is nicer people may want to spend more time outside.
  • When the weather is really bad – heavy snow etc. it may affect the traffic and therefore the willingness of people to drive.

Events outside the FEC:

  • Sometimes such events affect the number of visits – for example during the Superbowl final you will see fewer people, after 4 pm. On Halloween night you will be visited by fewer kids, as the majority will be busy hunting for candies.

Scheduling patterns
Visits at FEC are not as seasonal as visits to water parks. However preparing the perfect schedule will require knowing and understanding all the variables – Spring break period is way busier than the end of school year time, Saturday at closing might be not as busy and Sunday at 2 pm., etc. You will need to prepare a calendar, showing the monthly, daily, and even hourly patterns. Once again relying on the data from previous years or similar businesses is the proper first step.
Not surprisingly though there is one main rule – When kids are out of school, your FEC will be busier.

What challenges do you experience scheduling your staff? Share your ideas with us in the comments on Facebook.