Employee didn’t show up. What do you do?

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by Tom Watson on January 13, 2013

You get a phone call first thing in the morning, it’s one of your customers. They left a short but sobering message that went something like this…

“You didn’t clean my office last night”. Call me right away!” At this point you are in a bit of shock, you have no idea that your employee did not go to the job.

No phone call from them, no text message, nothing at all. What do you do? How you handle this with the customer is naturally very important. The very first thing you need to do is apologize. Then I would offer to go out immediately to correct the problem.

The customer may or may not allow that depending on what type of operation they run. If correcting it right away is ok then take care of it as soon as you hang up the phone if at all possible. If not, then you’ll have to make sure you follow through on whatever arrangement you agreed to with the customer.

I would also credit the customer for the missed cleaning then put a plan in place to make sure it didn’t happen again (more about that later). Remember to go way beyond the call of duty when you do fix the mistake, as that will separate you from your competitors. For those of you who claim you offer “knock your socks off service”, that’s the price you’ll have to pay to make it right!

After all that is done I would call your employee to find out what happened. If it was a true emergency, then so be it. Sometimes a goofy situation happens or perhaps it was just an honest mistake of some kind. We are all human, never forget that!

If the answer is “I just couldn’t make it” or what amounts to a lame excuse, then you have a problem. In an instance like this, where there was gross negligence, or an otherwise total lack of caring on their part, I would probably let them go.

I would simply tell them “Thanks for the work you’ve done, but I’m going to have to terminate your employment. You last pay check will be mailed to you”. Of course you’ll want to make sure you have some kind of policy in place that explains what will happen in that given situation (or a similar one).

Anyway… an employee not showing up for duty has happened to me more than once in the years I’ve owned my cleaning business. I’ve even had people not show up for work for several days in a row then MAGICALLY appear out of the blue as if nothing has happened.

Generally no two situations are identical, and you’ll have to adjust based on the circumstances as they occur. Sometimes people quit without warning. Sadly this used to happen quite often to me. Over time I got much better at hiring, and this has become a non-issue for me.

At other times a medical issue may arise that requires hospitalization for someone. I’ve had this happen at least three or four times over the years. Nothing you can do about this one, as that’s life. Most customers will understand when this type of situation happens. Remember they have employees as well.

To help prevent this from happening you will want to carefully explain the importance of calling out as early as possible. Waiting until the last-minute is not acceptable (except in a true emergency). Drive in the “teamwork” manta! All for one and one for all.

What I used to do is require new employees (on the commercial side of the business) to call in AND out for each evening they worked. If I was dropping in on them to supervise then there would be no need for the call of course. I used to require this for roughly 30 days. If they did not call out or otherwise have a problem in that time frame, odds are they were a low risk to stiff me.

Anyway… an employee not showing up for work may occur from time to time. Although your customer is upset, and you are no doubt as well, the situation can be remedied with good results. You just need to fix the problem promptly, giving the customer a little extra cleaning along the way.

Not charging them for the missed cleaning will also promote some good will and helps make amends for the mistake (just make sure to make mention of this on the invoice somehow as you’ll want to get “credit” for it). This tells them you run a first class operation and deliver on your promises.

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