Time to Make the Donuts:


With a global presence and more than 4,400 locations in 36 states, Dunkin’ Donut is the world’s largest coffee, donut and bagel shop. The company’s market strength reflects its New England roots with its strongest markets along the U.S. eastern seaboard. Among these are 140 New England and New York-based franchises owned and operated by Cafau Management, which set out to improve its employee time and attendance system. The company sought to upgrade to an automated process that would eliminate weaknesses inherent in the existing method and that would help achieve management goals. In early 2005, Timecard Monitor, a Windows-based application incorporated with a bio-metric interface, was selected and implemented for a test-run at seven of its Syracuse , New York locations.


With nearly 3,000 Dunkin’ Donuts employees on payroll, the company needed to retool its employee time and attendance system in order to:

  • Improve management of employee time;
  • Capture accurate employee time and attendance data;
  • Increase efficiency of payroll administration;
  • Reduce time and tasks store managers devoted to pre-processing payroll;
  • Prevent employees from “clocking-in” early;
  • Eliminate the act of “buddy-punching” (employees punching-in for tardy or absent co-workers); and,
  • Enable more efficient scheduling.


Cafau Management’s Dunkin’ Donut franchises were utilizing an electronic punch-clock to capture employee time and attendance that provided minimal control. Its lack of a checks and balances system allowed potential for timecard misuse, calling into question the reliability of the data it provided. As such, the organization had low confidence that the information which served as the basis for payroll was true and accurate.

Additionally, the system’s inefficiency was an issue that raised further concerns about accuracy at the payroll administration level. Because store managers assumed responsibility for manually totaling employee timecard hours each pay period, any errors that occurred in computations or that resulted from missing, illegible, or misinterpreted data further compounded payroll inaccuracies. Moreover, the company recognized that the amount of time store managers were devoting to payroll pre-processing could otherwise be used more productively on core business matters.

According to Guy Ruffo, general manager of the Syracuse-based franchises, all seven store managers experienced similar problems and reported eight common issues that interfered with their ability to achieve an accurate accounting of employee time and attendance:

  1. Buddy-punching – It was believed that incidents were rare and therefore, not a serious problem. However, management concluded that presenting opportunity was unacceptable and agreed that new systems under consideration should be capable of eliminating the practice.
  2. Misaligned timecards – Store managers frequently experienced difficulty deciphering time stamps due to misaligned timecards that resulted in overlapping entries that were either illegible or reflected double entries for one date. It also raised concerns as to whether time stamps were corresponding with correct dates.
  3. Missing timecards – Lost or discarded timecards created problematic information gaps that required managers’ time and attention to (a) obtain employee hours and (b) attempt to verify the data.
  4. Time-consuming, error-prone payroll pre-processing tasks – Each payroll period managers were auditing and totaling an average of 20 timecards – one for every employee on staff. It was a tedious and imprecise process subject to errors in computations and questionable data, and a poor use of managers’ time.
  5. Failure to clock-out – Occasionally an employee would complete a shift and leave for the day without punching-out. Whether intentional or accidental the results were the same, an incomplete record that required the manager’s attention and that was at best, difficult to verify.
  6. Early-arrivals – While every company values the prompt employee, Dunkin’ Donuts’ store managers were noting a troublesome pattern. Some employees would arrive at work early and clock-in before their shift began, but fail to engage in work related activities until after their “official” start time. By law, employees must be paid for all reported time and as such, the company was compensating unproductive workers.
  7. Inaccessibility of management information – The existing method lacked a centralized system or reporting mechanism that severely limited access to historical or current attendance information critical to employee assessments, scheduling and other personnel, process and operational efficiency.
  8. Poor data security – Timecards maintained in common work areas and accessible to all employees were susceptible to fraud, such as buddy-punching or the discarding of records.


Timecard Monitor, the flagship and award-winning time and attendance software developed by Count Me In, LLC of Mt. Prospect, Illinois was implemented at seven Dunkin’ Donuts’ franchises.

The system features an exclusive LightningID fingerprint identification engine, a biometric data-collection device mounted on walls outside the offices of each store manager. Employees enroll in the system by providing fingerprint samples, which are converted into algorithms and stored in a database for comparison. With two finger-taps on a digital sensor, the system attempts a match to authenticate employees’ identities as it logs in precise arrival and departure times.

Timecard Monitor’s comprehensive software also allows companies to set-up specific parameters such as employee schedules, pay policies, pre-populated holidays, etc., all of which can be compiled in detailed management reports.

And, the application provides seamless integration with leading payroll and accounting packages such as QuickBooks, PeachTree, ACCPAC, ADP and Paychex.


Tracking time and attendance of nearly 140 employees with Timecard Monitor provided superior security, accuracy, and efficiency; improved employee accountability and productivity; and reduced payroll costs.

Installation took less than 10 minutes at each site and was described by General Manager Guy Ruffo, as impressively smooth and easy. But more importantly, it addressed all of the challenges defined by on-site managers while satisfying corporate expectations.

The system fully-automated the tracking of employee hours and streamlined the payroll administration process. Its application of biometric recognition technology enabled the capacity to “know” employees and their work schedules. For example, managers could pre-program shifts, restricting employee “log-ins” to within a five-minute window from the assigned start time. In addition to eliminating the issue of early-arrivals, it also prevented other forms of time-fraud, such as buddy-punching and red-flagged questionable entries, allowing administrators to reconcile and/or modify the data.

It enabled store managers to concentrate on the core business by removing the time-consuming tasks associated with preprocessing payroll and, in doing so, eliminated human errors from the process.

“Timecard Monitor provides a cost-effective approach for managing employee time and attendance,” said Ruffo. “We’ve realized a diverse and broad range of benefits including everything from reductions in overtime, simplified social security payments, ease of access to management information, and the ability to maintain our payroll budget.”