Customer story

How Nowsta Saves Continental Services Over 500 Hours per Year

with Hannah Bailey, Staffing Strategist

less time spent
on payroll
less time spent
on scheduling
hours saved
per year

A sophisticated food services provider

Continental Services is one of the biggest food services providers in Michigan, comprising several uniquely branded business lines. In addition to its thriving office cafe and vending businesses, Continental has a large catering arm consisting of two distinct divisions:

  • Standard events catering: Forte Belanger is a high-end caterer under the Continental umbrella. It’s a member organization of the Leading Caterers of America and is available for events of all shapes and sizes across Michigan.
  • Managed venues catering: Continental Services is the sole caterer for some of Michigan’s most iconic venues, such as the Waterview Loft on the Detroit River.

Continental manages a team of over 300 catering staff across these two divisions. With few exceptions, any of those 300 can work events for any of the divisions once they’ve completed the associated Continental training courses. But as any catering manager will tell you, deploying that many staff efficiently is difficult if you have one line of business, let alone three. Read on to learn how Nowsta has helped Continental save hundreds of hours a year by streamlining its staff management processes.

The challenge

Before Nowsta, Continental was using separate, siloed systems to schedule employees, track their hours, and run payroll. As Continental’s Staffing Strategist Hannah Bailey recalls, “The whole process was really time-consuming.” Here’s what it looked like.

First, scheduling: Continental used StaffMate to assign staff to all shifts for each of its events. When Hannah chose a staff member for a shift, StaffMate would send that worker an email asking if they could work at that time. But Hannah found that email alone wasn’t enough. “People don’t check their emails all the time, so there were always lots of delays in getting responses.” If an event was coming up soon, Hannah often found herself having to call staff members asking them to confirm whether or not they could work.

Time and attendance tracking was even worse. Continental’s event managers used paper time sheets to sign workers in and out for each shift. Hannah would then gather the sheets after each event and transcribe the staff members’ worked hours into Kronos’ payroll software — Hannah estimates she spent 10-12 hours a week on this. “The worst would be if we lost that piece of paper. We’d then have to ask the event manager when everyone checked in and out, but of course there would be mistakes because we’d be asking them to remember a week after the event.” Kronos eventually came out with an app that allowed employees to clock in from their phones, but Continental still opted to keep paper time sheets as a backup due to its workforce’s low adoption of the Kronos app.

Continental eventually recognized that it had a problem. “A year ago, we realized this combination of systems just wasn’t efficient, so I set out to find a new provider,” Hannah recalls.

The solution

Hannah’s search eventually led her to Nowsta. She and the team were able to consolidate both scheduling and time tracking on our all-in-one staff management platform. Meanwhile, our integration with Paycom allows them to run payroll much faster (Please note that Continental recently switched from Kronos to Paycom for payroll — however, Nowsta integrates with both).

Hannah noticed the difference right away. Unlike StaffMate, Nowsta sends notifications to workers’ phones — either by text or push notification — as soon as Hannah schedules them for a shift. Staff can then immediately accept or decline these requests. She’s also finding the right workers faster thanks to Nowsta’s tagging and filtering system. “I have each worker tagged based on which of our positions and venues they’re qualified to work for, so I can quickly pull up the ones I need.” All in all, Hannah is able to schedules shifts on Nowsta in half the time it took her on StaffMate.  

Scheduling on Nowsta also helps Continental keep events within budget. The platform knows the hourly wage for each worker and position, so it automatically spits out the projected labor costs for each event as Hannah builds the roster. It even warns her when workers are approaching overtime. “If I’m choosing between two people and one is going to get overtime on the shift, I’ll choose the other one to keep costs down,” says Hannah.

“Having scheduling, time tracking, and payroll under one system has been a game changer for Continental.”
Hannah Bailey
Staffing Strategist at Continental Services

Nowsta has also allowed Continental to ditch the paper time sheets. Instead, they use Nowsta’s GPS self check-in feature to let workers clock in from their phones — but Hannah gets notified if they do so when they’re not actually at the venue. “We noticed some employees chronically punching in too far from the events. We talked to them and word got around quickly that we could see where they clock in from. It makes you wonder how often people were clocking in early when we used the Kronos app.”

But payroll is where Nowsta really shines for Hannah. Instead of going event-by-event copying each worker’s hours from a paper timesheet — a tedious process ripe for human error — she can simply export them from Nowsta as a CSV file and load them directly into Paycom. The Nowsta payroll process takes her just one hour a week compared to the 10-12 it took with the old system.

The results

Nowsta has cut Hannah’s time spent on scheduling by 50% and her time spent on payroll by over 90%. Together, these cuts amount to more than 500 hours saved a year for Continental. And Nowsta’s built-in labor cost reporting helps Hannah keep Continental’s events profitable.

Best of all, Continental’s staff love Nowsta. Even the less tech savvy workers appreciate the quicker, simpler communication Nowsta offers. “Nowsta is great for last minute announcements — we can immediately tell staff if there’s a parking change or a road closure they need to know about. We didn’t have an easy way to text the 40+ staff for an event at once before Nowsta,” she says.

How does Hannah sum up her Nowsta experience? “Having scheduling, time tracking, and payroll under one system has been a game changer for Continental.”