Managing Labor Costs through HotSchedules

Managing Labor Costs through HotSchedules

Ray Pawlikowski and David Cantu

Ray Pawlikowski and David Cantu

What is HotSchedules all about in just a few words?

HotSchedules is a mobile and web-based employee scheduling, forecasting and communications tool.  It helps our customers manage their labor costs and engage their employees.

What need does it fulfill?

We want to provide restaurants with one mobile suite to streamline operations including hiring, training, scheduling, communicating, managing shift tasks, processes and workflows, as well as tracking inventory, cash flow and business analytics.

HotSchedules provides benefits at every level of an organization.  For the hourly worker, they have more schedule flexibility and access, and can more easily communicate with their team and managers.  Managers can make more accurate schedules faster and with less hassle because all the information they need, such as sales forecasts, time off requests and availabilities are built into the tool. Further, managers can access the tool from anywhere, allowing them to build schedules offsite and to check-in or communicate with the team or managers at any time.  For organizations with multiple units, HotSchedules’ Above Store Console allows the management team to compare labor across locations at a glance.

What is Red Book Connect?

HotSchedules is now a product of Red Book Connect.  We brought together, in one integrated platform, the best-in-breed solutions for the most time-consuming, but essential managerial tasks in the service industry. The other Red Book Connect products are GoHire for paperless hiring and onboarding, Schoox, our social learning platform, Macromatix, for robust inventory, cash management and reporting and the Manager’s Red Book, which has a fully customizable digital version in beta testing and will be available more broadly in January.

How did you start the company? 

Ray Pawlikowski – In 1999, I was a computer science student at Texas State University and worked as a bartender at PF Chang’s China Bistro. As a project for a college class, I had to create a web site, so I decided to work with my manager, and co-founder, David Cantu to post work schedules online for my coworkers.  Everyone loved being able to just jump on the web to get their schedule, instead of having to call the store or drive up to read it off the schedule posted on the wall. A few months later David and I formed HotSchedules and it has been growing ever since. Our ultimate goal, however, was to deliver solutions for all of the operational challenges faced when running a restaurant; so we were really excited to begin working with Cam Lanier and TPG Growth to expand the platform and become part of Red Book Connect in 2013.

What is your user base?

Red Book Connect has 1.2M users across 128,000 locations, in 26 countries for all our products.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up?

HotSchedules began in 1999, right at the end of the dot com era when funding was drying up for entrepreneurs. But we believed in our product and knew it would help restaurant operators as well as the hourly workforce, so we stuck with it and kept the faith, even when some of us had to take other jobs to provide for our families. It was tough to stay afloat at times but with the help of our amazing team we ultimately grew the business. As our customers began realizing the benefits they were gaining from our solution, they became our biggest advocates, and through their ongoing referrals, our success really took off.

What is your company’s mission?

To serve those who serve others.

What are your core three values?

We have five core values: Service, Creativity, Family, Fun and Humility–We want to provide an unparalleled customer experience by empowering our team and driving innovation.

What is the next step for your company?

We want to continue to grow domestically and expand internationally. And though we currently focus primarily on the restaurant industry, we have a number of customers in other industries as well, such as healthcare, hospitality and broader retail.  We will continue to support all of our customers and keep expanding as demand grows.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs today?
If you have a product or idea that really helps people or businesses, you can’t give up on it. It will get hard, but the challenges can make you stronger, as a business and as a person, and they make the successes that much more satisfying. Find mentors who share your passion and can help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls as you get started. The old cliché “hire people smarter than you” really does ring true and building a company around a shared set of values goes a long way.  Also, the idea that we focused on our passion to ‘serve others’ was a differentiator that continues to set us apart from competition.

What resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

Without question, the most important resource has been our customers.  We have based the evolution of our products on their feedback, and over the course of our more than 13 years in business, they have provided us with the most valuable, relevant and game-changing input.

Company At-A-Glance:

Year established: HotSchedules began in 1999, became Red Book Connect in 2013

Number of employees  400 employees

Industry  High Tech, specifically Software as a Service (SaaS)


Leadership:  Ray Pawlikowski – Chief Operations Officer and David Cantu – Chief Customer Officer; co-founders of HotSchedules