Killer Week From Hell: Could You Survive?

Jun 21, 2022 | Work Life Balance

Killer week from hell: Could your business still operate if you lost 97 hours off your roster in 1 week?


Staff Shortage Nightmare! As a Parent Boss, when it rains, it pours! Everything seems to happen at once, which happened to us last week, in our killer week from hell!

We know you, fellow Parent Bosses understand this. You sometimes stand there, shaking your head, wondering what else can go wrong.

And then the universe turns around with a big smile on its face and says, “let’s see how you do with this!”

This week we had a major staff shortage and had to cover 97 hours on our sales roster in 1 week! That’s more than covering 2 FT people. And it had to be done THEN & THERE, with no warning, because it was all sickness/COVID related. They were out.

It was seriously just one person after another.


Killer week from hell.

It was a balancing act.


Truly – it was one thing after another.


Our manager tested positive for COVID, so we had to cover her. Straight away 38 hours needed to be covered.

Next, our youngest daughter then tested positive, so I stayed in iso with her for seven days, meaning my 15 hours a week rostered had to be covered.

We shipped Leigh off to a hotel for a week to stay away from any possibility of catching it from us and taking it into the bakery.

It was just the three kids and me at home for a week. Each morning, the twins were negative, meaning they could still go to school.

So, apart from not being able to help in the bakery, which causes stress on it’s own, we weren’t too bad at home.

A staff member tested positive for COVID, adding 10 hours to the list to be covered.

Then another team member covering about 28 hours (only 12 that week, though, luckily!) caught it.

Suddenly another who did 16 hours a week also went down.

Followed by another who only does one shift a week, so another 6 hrs to cover.

And finally, we had an injury – a thumb caught in a front counter. It bled, and the team member was not good with the sight of blood; they were so nauseous that they went home.

In 1 week, we had 7 team members out – me included, all in a matter of a few days!

That added up to 97 hours that needed to be covered.


It is tough when you are needed both at home and at work at the same time.


And as Parent Boss, it was a tough week.

I was needed at home to care for my youngest, as Leigh was required to focus on baking and still make the bakery run.

Yet, typically, I would increase the hours that I would work in the shop to help cover the holes, and I couldn’t.

It was a Parent Bosses worst nightmare – both sides of the Work-Life Pendulum need you, yet you can only do one. So, what does that mean for the other side that you couldn’t get to? How do you still make that ‘work’?

Luckily, we have a great team in the bakery that saved our bacon.

We had staff stepping up, doing things that they hadn’t been shown how to do yet as they were pretty new, like doing ingredient orders and putting away ingredient deliveries.

Without a lot of training, they kept up with the demand for hot pies over lunch (a skill that takes a little while to learn, as you need to anticipate amounts required, not have too much wastage etc.)

They placed daily ingredient orders.

They were terrific, and we are so very grateful for the great team working with us.

To break it down, three things saved us this week:


1) Having layers in our business.


What are layers, you ask? Multiple layers (people) who can do a job.


Staff training

Train more than 1 person to do a job, so you have options if something happens.


Take doing pies over lunch. We have four people who routinely do this – me, our manager, our ASM and our person who does 28 hours. We also had a 5th person we were training.

As luck would have it, all 4 of us were out simultaneously, meaning the 5th person had to step up and do it. And she did and did it brilliantly!

Who would have thought that having only 4+ people who knew how to do pies each day wouldn’t be enough! Thank goodness for number 5!

We are now going back and making sure we are training up number 6!

Parent Bosses – we are currently living our Parent Boss Life in extraordinary times, so we need to take significant measures to deal with it, as who knows what is coming and staff shortage will be an ongoing problem.

How many layers do you have for each job in your business? If you don’t have many, you need to fix that ASAP.

We go through this in our “Live Your Parent Boss Life” Mastermind. Click here for more info if you already know you need help to put layers in your business.


2) Have easy to access information everywhere. We use procedures for everything.
Procedures are key to flexibility and freedom

Procedures are the key to your flexibility & freedom as a Parent Boss.


Your staff don’t want to make a mistake.

Some might think it will mean their job is in jeopardy if they do, and they also don’t want to look silly.

For repeatable things, like ingredient orders, how you want the store cleaned on closing, or how many pies you want over lunch, write out a procedure—a step by step guide for your team on how you want it done.

Knowledge is confidence, and if your team can see in writing (or video if you prefer digital) what you want done, they won’t worry about getting it wrong or looking silly.

You wrote it; they follow it. Easy.

The information on how you want things done helps no one if it is stuck in your head and no one can access it. As soon as you are not in your business to tell people, the wheels fall off.

Save yourself and your team the stress and have it easily accessible by using procedures.


3) Use Build To Levels for ordering.

One of our recent hires stepped up to most ingredient ordering this week.

We had only shown them once or twice before, but because we have build to levels in our store, it is pretty easy for anyone to do.

Here’s how it works:

  • We want 100 pies available in the store on Friday.
  • After lunch on Thursday, (our peak time),  they count the number of pies we have left in store. They count 40.
  • They see 100 needed/40 on hand = 60 need to be ordered.
  • They go through every pie we have and count them. Check the build to amount required and order the difference.
  • It is so simple and easy, and we use it for everything – ingredients, packaging, chemicals, stationery items, drinks – everything!


Then, when the $#@% hits the fan, we can talk any team member through how to do this over the phone, making sure that the business continues to run as we need it to.


Killer week from hell - feeling like you are drowning.

It can easily feel like you are drowning!


This was a new record!

In the 20+ years that we have been running businesses, 97 hours is the most that we have had to cover in 1 week with no notice.

Luckily everyone is back now, and we are OK on the sales front, but we are now short on the baker’s side, with one contracting COVID today! It is seriously never-ending!

As we are sure you know, you routinely go through periods where you might be short-staffed. It was always a change of semester for school and uni for us.

Timetables change, activities change, and some people graduate and leave. Lots of change happens at once. Ninety hours one September in Canada was the record for us, and we can say we have topped that now!

To ensure the flexibility in your own Parent Boss Life, you HAVE to have extra staff, multiple people able to do various jobs, and information easily accessible by using procedures and build to levels.

Constantly see who you can teach something new to, so you have buffers everywhere.

You will be in a world of trouble when you have a week like this, if you are the only person or maybe 1 or 2 people doing the work.

This can be when shutdowns, loss of income and financial stress start to become big problems, so you need to protect yourself.

Bonus #4 – Make sure your team knows how much you value their help.


And one last note – if your team member has stepped up and helped you out, make sure you show how much you appreciate them.

Talk them through the process.

Ask them if they have any questions or are worried about anything.

Reward them – publicly in your staff chat (if you have one) and privately (we gave them a thank you card with a sincere heartfelt message and a gift card).

Let them know that they have helped you, and you are very grateful for that help and how much you appreciate them.Everyone wants to be appreciated, so make sure you tell them and show them.

Do you need help getting layers/procedures/build to levels in your business? Schedule a call with us to see if our Mastermind is the right fit for you. We go through all this – layers, procedures, build to levels, buffers and flexibility and how to implement them in your business. It is a must-do in this uncertain time we are currently living in. Click here to schedule a call.