We Have an Attendance Problem

Ladies & Gentlemen – We Have An Attendance Problem

This week I had a few attendance problems of my own and I’ll bet you did too.

#1 Mine started, when the fry cook needed Wednesday night off, which put the chef on the fry station and moved one of the food runners to the Expo Position.

#2 On Thursday we had to terminate our new lunch pantry cook trainee because they just couldn’t hang - which put the sous chef in as the day pantry cook Friday morning. Then, also on Friday a lunch waitress went home sick - which moved the dining room manager from host / buffet runner to waiter - and that moved the sous chef to have to cover the day pantry cook and be the lunch buffet runner.

#3 our host decided to take Saturday night off which put the dining room manager at the host position, which left us without a dining room manager.

Overall – things worked out ok – But, OK is NOT the Goal. To me OK is NOT OK!

I'm not here do live in the world of OK.

Does the scenario above sound familiar to you? Well it sure does to me, because it's a way of life for us the the restaurant business. Unfortunately, this is the state of the art in 99% of all the restaurant in the country. Sometimes the schedule is easy to write and the people show up and other times the schedule is impossible to write and people call off work at the last minute, leaving us short-handed – Again!.

It’s like the movie Ground Hog Day. It’s the same recurring dream or nightmare day after day after day. Writing the schedule and getting 100% Attendance is one of the hardest things to actually accomplish in the restaurant business today, you need to be a master juggler and clairvoyant fortune teller to hold it all together.

Let’s Look at THE CULPRITS – The reasons why this is so difficult. To me - There are Two Types of Errors – Staff Errors and Management Errors.

Let’s start with the staff errors.

Life gets in the way, things happen and people get sick, life is messy. It’s hard to find people who want to work in the restaurant business. Work is NOT a Priority to many people today.

Turnover – is when people just quit on the spot or just stop showing up.

OR when we have to cut them loose because they employee is not competent or they are inept. I love that word inept, it means having or showing no skill; clumsy.

The second type of errors are Management Errors. This is when the manager writes a bad schedule or has a communication problem.

Such as when the Manager approves a last minute day off because they want to be nice to their people. Hey don’t laugh, this happens all the time, because we are restaurant people, and we want to please others, it’s how we are wired… What makes us great – also makes us weak…

Here’s one for YA - I BELIEVE: Missed Shifts are responsible for 80% of all customer complaints that happen in restaurants. AND I FURTHER BELIEVE that Missed shifts are responsible for 80% of all employee dissatisfaction - AND the missed shift epidemic is one of the major reasons that we lose the GOOD people. This happens because the good people are just worn out from trying to cover for people who don’t show up for work. It’s a viscous cycle.

The point is - we already know this - there is nothing new here.

I am going to explain FIVE Important Rules of schedule writing and 100% Attendance.

1. The management team must build a schedule grid that shows what positions we need for each day of the week and then - fill in the blanks with the name of the people who will be working each position.

2. The schedule must be posted by NOON on Thursday for the following week. If you can do it earlier that’s even better. The point is to be consistent and make sure that your managers get it posted on time.

3. The Goal is 100% Attendance. This means that 100% of all shifts are covered by competent people who are trained to perform the job to the standard for the position. This means that everyone shows up for every shift on time – in uniform - bright eyed and bushy tailed, eager and ready to perform.

4. Requests for days off must be submitted IN WRITING - two weeks in advance.

5. Once the schedule is posted – There will be NO Changes. Now we all know that there are times when good people cannot make it to work. But 80% of the time a missed shift is either some BS excuse by the employee or a screw up by the manager. Either way the big question is what are we going to do about it?

I use a point system.

If you are late you get ONE Point. If you miss a shift you get FIVE Points. If you are truly sick and have a note from your doctor, you only get THREE Points.

A miss shift is a miss shift, no matter what the reason.

The manager must issue a written notice to the employee every time they have an attendance violation so the employee understands how important attendance is – and they know how many points they have.

After 90-Days the points fall off the record. BUT - if you get TWENTY Points in any 90-Day Period, you get fired – oops…

AND - If you are a No Call No Show – You are terminated. No Questions asked.

This point system works. This Point System has helped us reduce the number of missed shifts dramatically AND we have only had to let two people go since we started using if a few years ago. In my opinion, this point system is the BEST way I have found to help people stay on the straight and narrow path.

Now that we know the rules or the guidelines Let’s revisit the scenario above.

In the first case the Fry cook will get ZERO points because they asked for the day off One Month in advance – because they had something important to do. The chef didn’t have anyone qualified to cover the fry station so he did it himself, but he did have a qualified expeditor to replace himself - this is Good, but not perfect, but good.

The waitress who went home early will be getting THREE points because they came in to work and did try to make it, but were clearly too sick to hang. Ya never know, It could be the brown bottle flu. The truth is that some people are sick all the time and other people never miss work. I like the people who have 100% attendance - what about you?

The host who took Saturday Night Off will be getting FIVE Points because the change was made AFTER the schedule was posted and they did not request the day off TWO Weeks in advance, it was a last minute deal.

AND – We will be having a serious talk with all the managers involved to remind of the importance of 100% Attendance, especially the one who gave the host the night off at the last minute.

Here’s why… 100% Attendance means 100% Attendance.

We cannot allow this problem to fester and get worse, we need to nip it in the bud.

What do you think we should do with the managers who have missed shifts in their department? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… Just send me an email at


There are three ways to do everything - The Right Way, The Wrong Way and The Only Way.

I comes down to the standards in your restaurant and the level of acceptance of your managers. AND that comes down to YOUR Level of acceptance. Your people will only live up to your standards and your actions if you enforce them and give them teeth.

I believe that missed shifts in restaurants is an epidemic that needs to be managed smarter. I believe the missed shift epidemic is responsible for 80% of the customer and employee complaints in all restaurants. It is up to the employees and team members to show up and do the job. AND – it’s up to the managers to build the schedule, train the team AND demand 100% Attendance.


My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner and manager who joins us has the information they need to earn a 10% Profit, create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams.

If you really want to turn your restaurant and your life around in the next 90-Days, here’s my four step Plan.

1- SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST This weekly pep talk will keep you on your toes and give you inspiration to keep moving forward.

2- BUY MY BOOK I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals and it has the power to change your life and as luck would have it - it's available on Amazon today. This book will catapult your knowledge into the top 5% of all restaurant owners. We have found that many of the people who buy this book are coming back and buying four more to share with their managers. This is a great idea because the book will help you and your team get on the same page.

Then, after you have read the book – I encourage you to come to food guru . com and…

3- SIGN UP FOR A FREE CONSULTATION: We will have a short discussion about you and your restaurant, if we agree that I can help you, we can move to step four… which is…

4- ONE ON ONE COACHING: face it… We all need a Coach… as a restaurant owner you need SOMEONE TO TALK TO, someone who understands your struggles and can - HOLD you ACCOUNTABLE for the results.

I want to be your coach…

When the student is ready… The Food Guru will appear…

Think about this opportunity for a second… What are you waiting for?

Are you waiting for someone else to step up and make it happen?

Or are you ready to take the bull by the horns and kick some ass?

Your homework assignment this week is – to achieve 100% Attendance for ONE WEEK!

That’s right – ONE WEEK…

Here is my personal challenge to you… Have a meeting with your entire restaurant team and set a simple goal – 100% Attendance for One Week!

If they do it – Have a Party…

Thanks for Listening… I’ll See you next week…

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