i was just doing payroll and found that my barista closed the shop 45 minutes early last week without asking me. I have also looked back and found several other days when she clocked out right at closing, meaning she would have to close early to count the money, etc. I am going to approach her and ask why she closed early; however, it seems like no matter what her answer is, i will probably have to let her go. In my opinion, even if she cut her finger off and had to go to the hospital, it is her responsibility to let me know when she is changing "policy". my issue is I don't think I can trust her. Does this seem harsh?

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Stephanie here is a link to the video system every shop should have (IMO). http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11486130

Im negotiating with a shop owner right now that had to close down when they found out someone had been steeling from them for the past few months. Basically they are going to be lucky to get liquidation value from the building and equipment. To be honest there were many problems but bottom line is that in this situation one of these systems could have at least gave them a fighting chance to still own a viable business.
Sorry to come back to this conversation late, I've been out of town.

Theft is the only instance that I would deem it appropriate to fire someone in front of their peers. It's a serious situation and needs to be delt with decisively. We firmly believe in dealing with our employees compassionately but there are lines that are not to be crossed.

Not being open when scheduled most definitely qualifies as theft, the owners have spent money advertising the hours of their business. They spent the time to make sure there was staff and product to sell and by closing early they have been robbed of their opportunity. There is a Mexican restaurant near me the is constantly not open during their posted hours. It only took two burrito less drives home for me to never go back.
David Sierra said:
I guess it would sound like this:

Police: "Ok, Miss...uh, er 'Barista", up against the Expresso Machine, yur under arrest for Closing Early!"

:-D

Brady said:
This is not theft.

It is almost always a bad idea, and may well cause significant loss of future income, but it is not theft. Theft is consciously taking money out of your till and pocketing it. Closing early is at worst laziness and negligence. Lets keep some perspective, eh?

Don't believe me? Call the police and try to have your employee charged with closing early.

Ma'am... please step away from the machine.

PORTAFILTER! SHE'S GOT A PORTAFILTER!!!
I can definately relate to this scenerio. Just 2 weeks ago I had to fire an employee for closing my shop 3 hrs early, she lied about not being able to get a hold of anyone that I had on call, did not leave a message on my home phone, husbands phone, only my phone that was dead at the time which I had no way of recieving the message. That was my last straw she had created a reputation of calling in sick almost every other week and dragging it out for days at a time. It was always some major emergency that didn't quite add up and my other employees and myself were inconvenienced at the same time, having to all of a sudden pull a double shift or work on their days off. I ended up paying lots of overtime and frustration. No I didn't give any warnings and maybe I should have, but it was getting old and obvious. By the way I did have regular customers go out of their way to come find out we were closed.
I've taken this approach before when i found out that my employees were closing early:

investigate for the truth and proof.
time cards- check
register receipt showing last transaction- check
time that end of day reports were ran- check
ask around to the other employees that you trust- what time have you guys been closing, is so and so closing early (or leave it vague and ask if just anyone) has closed early- check

have any friends or know any regular customers that come in later in the evening? ask them- check

ask the Barista in question what time they close- check
if they lie to you- there's your good reason to terminate immediately, because they officially now cannot be trusted.
if they tell the truth- then it is your pergoative to invest more time into this employee by offering a strong, strong warning with threats to their immediate future in your company if they ever do this again. They will know that you will know because your proof is in hand.....

if you don't say anything at all- then they will always have the " no one ever told me" excuse because YOU the owner has the information to prove what time the operation closes every night.

no need to call out or fire the Barista in question in front of the other staff. that only makes things awkward for everyone.
the other staff will have an idea of what's going on, especially if you're asking around.
Sandy is a coffee house running GENIUS!! Do as she says...
Sandy Hon is a coffee house management genius. And my vote for American Idol.
I think your being to hard on yourself, its clearly a trust issue here and if you cant trust here then how can you leave the store in her hands....this includes what she's saying to customers and employees when your not around. Do the right thing and let her go....take on a few more hours until you can find a replacement.
Go into the conversation "being" completely wrong. In otherwards, don't set out to "get her". I know for me, I have eluded in the past, "if things are slow go ahead and close early". This comes from two things: 1. not wanting my employee to be bored and 2. trying to save a buck. Give her the space to share why she has done so. If she is a good employee set clear expectations for the future. Employees view our business not as we do. And, they may really trying to save you money. It is all about an owner being responsible, not making the other wrong.
As Ann Said without going into details that they mentioned in their comment. Closing early is something which will make your business un consistant. i suggest to make it clear to everyone to follow the openng and closing procedures and yes to let her go na matter what.
My thoughts exactly.

Talk to her about it. Decide actions afterwards. You don't know what the intentions were, and if they were good, then it was a mistake. If they were selfish, then it was blatant disobedience.

It makes all the difference in the world.

Bryan Wray said:
Just echoing what others are saying: If it is a policy that has been put in place, and communication is open about not closing early, then yes, the person violated policy on numerous occasions and has to be let go. If this is not a communicated policy and something that you "just think would be obvious" then you cannot let the person go without a warning, IMO.

Perhaps the person was just trying to save you money? Sounds weird for an employee to think like this, but if the employee feels like they have ownership in the company (usually a good thing) then perhaps they were trying to save you some dough. Sit down and talk with the employee about it and make your policy clear. If the policy already was clear, then I think you know what you have to do.

-bry
Does she care and love the preparation of coffee? How much returning business happens is because of her? I would say you can't afford the dollars you've lost to have questionable doubt in one person, yet keep her on anyway. I'm sure someone is waiting to have the job she seems to not appreciate.

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