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100% Attendance

I believe missed shifts cause 80% of all customer complaints!


I believe missed shifts are the reason most employees and managers quit their jobs… and go work somewhere else… I believe that missed shifts are an epidemic that cause most restaurant owners to throw in the towel and close their doors forever!


Let’s define what 100% attendance is… It has three components.


Part one: Starts with the manager writing an effective schedule. That means the schedule is 100% correct and accurate.

That means you have every shift is covered with the correct amount of people to handle the amount of business that you are expecting. And every person on the schedule in trained and competent and knows exactly how to perform every aspect of their job!


This also means every person who is on the schedule is on time and prepared for every shift…I believe the schedule is the single most important document in the building!


Does this sound like your restaurant? Does this happen every day in your restaurant? If it does, you have an amazing restaurant and are in the top 1% of all restaurants!


If this is not you – that means that you live with the rest of us…


The truth is that every restaurant has missed shifts. Here’s how I describe a missed shift:

A missed shift is when you have five waiters scheduled and only four of them actually show up. A missed shift is when someone calls in sick or has some type of conflict that keeps them from working.


Why are missed shifts a big deal? Here’s why…


I believe missed shifts cause 80% of all customer complaints! Every restaurant in the world receives their share of complaints. Customers complaints range from slow service, to cold food, to dirty bathrooms.


What is the biggest cause of complaints in restaurants?


I believe the real culprit behind 80% of all customer, employee and owner complaints is missed shifts! That’s right folks, missed shifts are killing you and your business.

When a restaurant employee calls in sick, we have three choices:

  1. Go through the shift without them.

  2. Replace them with someone less qualified.

  3. Call in someone who really needed the day off.

Missed shifts create frustrated employees and a less than stellar performance. The story is the same in every restaurant on the planet and it goes like this.


You or your manager answer the phone and its joe calling to say he can’t come to work today. Or sometimes, it’s the dreaded – oh, by the way, I just decided to quit my job, phone call.


I know that 20% of the time when someone calls off work it is legit, there is a real reason. But – I also know that 80% of the time, it’s some bozo who doesn’t care about you or your business, blowing you off!


The sad thing is that it’s usually the same people who screw us over and over, week after week. The sadder part is that most restaurant managers and owners can’t or won’t do anything about it because they don’t have qualified replacements to run the place.


The saddest part of this story is that we usually have to cover the missed shifts ourselves or call in (old faithful) you know who I mean, the person who’s always there when you need them. The problem with this is that eventually – even old faithful is going to burn out and say no.


Missed shifts create excessive stress and serious burnout on the good people who are always at work! This problem is much bigger than most restaurants owners and managers think it is.


I recommend you start tracking missed shifts to see how often they happen and who the real problem children are.


The big question is – what are you going to do about this huge problem? Here are some ideas:

  • Define what a missed shift is. (when you are on the schedule and miss work for any reason.)

  • Sit down with every employee and have them sign a document that states how important it is for them to work every shift they are scheduled for and what will happen if they miss.

  • Ask for a two-week notice when requesting an extra or special day off.

  • Post your schedule in two-week increments.

  • Become a better recruiter.

  • Hire and train more people than you need.

  • Schedule an on-call person for every shift.

  • Stop hiring un-dependable losers.

  • Fire people for missing work and killing your business.

This may seem harsh to you, but – I have a theory:


Winners hate working with losers & losers hate working with winners. If you allow the losers to screw over the team and hence forth the winners.


The losers will chase off the winners and that would be bad. The problem with this is - you will be stuck with a bunch of losers. The choice is up to you, any combination of the two is bad! The truth is that we all have people who just don’t get it.


If you have a serious attendance problem – you need to go on offense:


If your attendance is out of control, you need to go on a serious recruiting and hiring spree! Bust your ass to find people who actually want to be in the restaurant business, pay them well and give them an opportunity to grow!


Here’s a fun game you can play:

Hang a sign in your kitchen that posts the number of days since the last missed shift. I will bet that 80% of the restaurants in America can’t make it to one week without some bozo breaking the streak.


Tell your staff, if they can make it to 30-days without a missed shift – you will throw a big party! And I mean a big party! 30-days without a missed shift would be an amazing accomplishment to most restaurants in America.


Use peer pressure and consequences for bad behavior. The point is to reward the behavior you want to manifest.


I’m really serious about this…


I wholeheartedly believe that missed shifts are the single biggest problem in the restaurant industry today. I believe missed shifts are responsible for 80% of all customer complaints – and… I believe this chronic problem is also a major cause of employee dis-satisfaction and turnover.


Missed shifts kill the positive vibe in a restaurant. This is because everybody knows they will have to work harder to cover them, and it’s usually the same few people (shit heads) who call off the most.


The missed shifts epidemic needs to be – fixed! Here’s one for ya…


I believe that 80% of missed shifts are the direct result of weak management. That’s right, 80% of missed shifts in your restaurant are your fault!


Here’s why:

Weak owners hire weak managers and don’t set expectations. Then, weak managers hire the wrong people, write lousy schedules and fail to confront the people who are constantly late and miss work.


Most restaurant managers accept the fact that people are going to call off work on a regular basis, and they don’t even bother to document the missed shifts when they happen - this is insane!


I put missed shifts in two categories: 1) Excusable absence which = 20% of missed shifts: 2) Un-acceptable absences which = 80% of missed shifts:


Excusable absences happen when people actually are too sick to come to work, or they have a real personal or family emergency. This includes really weird things such as crazy weather, snow days and floods. These are real reasons to miss work. However; these absences only account for 20% of missed shifts and are not the real problem.


Un-acceptable absences = 80% of missed shifts. These un-acceptable absences are un-forced errors (fumbles) that cause havoc on your restaurant, fellow team members and customer service.


Un-acceptable absences come in two categories: Management error & employee error.

Management error: this is when the manager who writes the schedule makes a mistake. The schedule gets posted late and people don’t know when they are supposed to work.

The manager only schedules 5 waiters for the weekend, when everyone knows we need 7. The manager fails to add extra people to cover a (known) special event or a spike in business.

The manager schedules two key people for vacation in the same week. The manager fails to replace someone who recently quit. This one is way too common. The manager approves a schedule change but doesn’t change the actual schedule. The manager makes a schedule change, after the schedule has been posted for a few days and but doesn’t tell the people involved.


The manager fails to check requests for days off and gets caught short at the last minute. The manager continues to schedule employees who constantly miss work.

But… the biggest management error is failure to recruit and not having enough trained team members to cover the required shifts.


The second category of missed shifts is B.B. excuses from employees: Calling in sick when you are really going to a party or social event. Last minute call offs because a family member (unexpectedly) came home to visit.

They forgot their best friend was getting married, this weekend two days from now. They went out of town and can’t get back, because their car broke down. They have to work their “other job” today. The bus doesn’t run today. I have to study for a test. I got arrested, I’m in jail. (you know this happens!) The list is endless.


The point is 80% of missed shifts are directly related to stupidity. If you set the standard and hold your people accountable for their actions, you will drastically reduce missed shifts.

I highly recommend that you keep track of missed shifts and discipline people for missing work.

I use a point system, to give this concept teeth. When you get 20 points in any 90-day time period - you get fired! In my restaurants we let everyone know that we take attendance seriously.


We have a sign that reads:


“We expect 100% attendance. We expect every employee and manager, to be in uniform, at their station, working when scheduled. We do not schedule extra people. Attendance is not optional. We expect you to work 100% of your scheduled shifts. If you are on the schedule we expect you to be here. Requests for time off must be submitted in writing two weeks in advance. If you are going to miss work for any reason: You must contact your supervisor directly. At least four hours in advance, or sooner if possible. Your supervisor is the person who writes your schedule. Keep your supervisors cell phone number – in your phone. Never leave a message. Talk to your supervisor personally. Do not - call the restaurant. Call your supervisor on their cell phone. The manager better answer the phone!”


The point system:

  • Being late for your shift = 1 point

  • Missing a shift for any reason = 5 points

  • Missing a shift with doctor’s excuse = 3 points

  • I understand if I am late or miss a shift for any reason I will get the points or demerits listed above.

  • I understand if I get 20 points in any 90-day period – I will be terminated.

  • I understand that points fall off my record after 90-days.

  • I understand that it is vital that I work 100% of the shifts I am scheduled for.

  • I understand that if I fail to inform my supervisor that I am going to miss a shift, that will be considered a no call/no show and I understand that no call / no show that is cause for immediate termination.


No call + No show = Immediate Termination!


I also hang a copy of this next to the schedule as reminder. I also have our people sign this document again every time they are late or miss a shift. This expectation goes double for managers. That’s right managers get double points! Managers are leaders and leaders must set the example.


Let’s talk about the employee & management schedule:

The schedule is the single most important document in the restaurant!


As I have already said:

  • Missed shifts cause 80% of all customer complaints.

  • Missed shifts cause 80% of your staff turnover.

  • Missed shifts cause 80% of your headaches.

  • Missed shifts cost you $$$.

  • Missed shifts cause employee turnover.

  • Missed shifts put extra pressure on the good people who do show up, which leads to disgruntled employees and too often, the loss of your best people.

Think about it, when a marginal employee calls off from work, again, what do you do? You pick up the phone and call the same reliable people to fill the hole. Or if you are a martyr manager you suck it up and fill the hole yourself.


The worst thing about missed shifts and call offs is that most managers and owners don’t even bother to document them. They accept it as the way the business is and do little or nothing to fix the problem.


Weak managers always make excuses, by saying things like, it won’t be that busy tonight, or we’ll be fine, I’ll move Cindy from hostess to server, and I’ll work the door.


Here’s my question - why do you bother to schedule people if you don't really need them?

If the answer is because you know people are going to call off, you have a very serious problem. If you are consistently going into battle, one or two people short-handed, you are a bad manager and leader - why would anyone ever want to work for you? …ouch – that hurts!

Proper planning prevents piss poor performance. The schedule is the single most important document in the restaurant, it is the ultimate planning tool. The schedule determines the fate of every shift. A sloppy schedule, costs the restaurant money, wastes time, leads to employee turnover and is the cause of most customer complaints.


The way a manager writes the schedule tells the story about their ability to manage and lead. The success or failure in schedule implementation is a true measurement of a department manager’s ability to build a winning team. A good manager must write an effective schedule and demand 100% attendance every week.

Do you write an effective schedule? Are you capable of writing an effective schedule?

Consistency - the schedule needs to be consistent, with the same people in the same positions every day. The schedule is not a puzzle or Rubik’s cube that you start over every week. Most kitchen schedules can be printed, laminated and posted, because they rarely change. If Fred is always working the grill, the steaks will be consistent. If Charlie always makes the onion soup, it will be consistent.


I find the dining room schedule much harder to write than the kitchen schedule because service people always want more time off the cooks. I believe there are three reasons for this.

  1. The wait staff make big $$$ and can afford more time off.

  2. Service people are more outgoing and social than kitchen people.

  3. Kitchen people see this as a career, where waiters see it a short-term cash grab.

The more consistent the schedule is, the more consistent the customer experience will be! My goal is to write the schedule, laminate it and post it. The only time the schedule needs to change, is when someone is promoted to the next step of training.


Every restaurant should have three schedules, kitchen, front of the house and management. Managers must be on the schedule and on time for every shift! – your employees are watching your managers behavior.


Over scheduling wastes money! Over scheduling gives people time to gossip and start internal wars. If you are spending more than 10% of your time on employee conflict – your schedule needs to be trimmed!


Under scheduling - puts too much pressure on the people who do show up, which causes turnover. Under scheduling because you don't have anyone available, reveals a lack of foresight and team building skills on the part of the manager.


One of the most important jobs of a manager is to build a team. Team building includes recruiting the next generation of employees.

What this really means is – you need to get serious and aggressive about finding good people.


I hope these ideas help you slow down the number of missed shifts in your restaurant!


My goal in life is to help you build a better restaurant. I want to be your coach! If you want to get serious about building a better restaurant I can help you, sign up for a free consultation…


A free consultation just might change your life!

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