Most restaurant owners deal with the reality of employee theft in one of two ways. Either they ignore it, and the theft eventually puts a big dent in their bottom-line. Or they become wholly paranoid and start tracking every employee to the extent that they get frustrated and quit.
These scenarios are far from flawless!
A much better solution is to understand the different ways employee theft takes place. And then bring about systemic and technology-led changes to prevent it from happening. Here are 8 common instances of restaurant theft and some tips for theft prevention.
Who wouldn’t want a freebie?
Many times, a server or bartender decides to give their favourite customer a free drink or appetizer. This is usually done in hopes of a bigger tip.
Theft prevention tip: Keep regular tabs on your POS system. If the inventory isn’t matching the sales, dig deeper.
The Wrong Amount Being Entered in the POS
This is simple enough!
A customer orders a premium cocktail and the bartender rings in a basic cola soda. The difference is quietly pocketed.
Theft prevention tip: You can use your POS system to great advantage here by instituting a blind closeout. A blind closeout means the bartender will have to enter the closing balance in the POS without knowing the amount that they’re expected to input.
Chances are your bartender won’t be able to do all that math through a busy night!
Often a customer orders a popular drink!
The bartender gives their a receipt and keeps the tab open. Another customer orders the same drink who has arrived a bit later, the bartender reprints the previous receipt from the open tab and gives it to the new customer. Of course, he pockets the cash paid by the second customer.
Theft prevention tip: This one is easy to prevent if you have a modern POS system. Just use your POS to see which servers are keeping tabs open too long and who’s reprinting far too many receipts.
Perishable Items Moving Out Through the Back Door
Just use cameras!
With the vast quantities of perishable food items a restaurant deals with, a few missing items can easily go unnoticed. What’s more, it’s easy for your servers and kitchen staff to blame it on food spoilage. Over time, these losses add up.
Theft prevention tip: The best way to prevent this is by setting up camera surveillance. This will act as a big deterrent for most of your staff. And the occasional thief will most likely be caught on camera.
Skimming the Cash Register
Opt for a cloud-based POS.
This becomes a problem when you don’t have a cloud-based POS system in place, and sales are not closely tracked. Employees start taking small change from the cash register as it doesn’t get noticed. But over time, it all adds up.
Theft prevention tip: A modern POS system allows you to reconcile your daily sales report with the cash in the register. Even if you don’t do this practice every day, just doing it, once-in-a-while is enough to discourage skimming. What’s more, you’ll be able to track sales on the go and in real-time if you use a cloud-based POS, which makes tracking sales a breeze.
Adding to the Tip
Tips are a part of the restaurant business!
It is common for a pleasing server to get a tip from a customer. Sometimes, when a customer pays by card, the server may add an extra digit to the tip amount and then enter an inflated amount to the POS. If the customer notices and calls it in, the service staff is usually not questioned. The restaurant ends up losing the extra money that the server has pocketed.
Theft prevention tip: Check your credit card slips and balance them to see if there is any funny business going on. Ask your staff to total up the slips for their shift. Better yet, with a cloud-based system you'll be able to see how each payment has been made, whether though a credit card or by cash. Click To Tweet
It’s a taboo
Sometimes employees start taking breaks when they should be working. Although this kind of theft is not intentional, customer service suffers and wait-time increases. This can lead to substantial revenue losses in the long run.
Theft prevention tip: Create a comprehensive break policy and make sure everyone on your staff knows about it. Be generous with breaks because the restaurant business takes a lot out of its employees. But make sure everyone knows the rules and they’re set in stone.
Exploiting the “Dine and Dash” Syndrome
Sometimes, customers run off without paying the bill, especially in quick-service restaurants. When this becomes a commonplace occurrence, servers sometimes take advantage of this. When a table pays their bill in cash, they pocket it and blame it on a “dine and dash”.
Theft prevention tip: Camera surveillance is the best solution in this situation. There are several smart video surveillance systems out there like Solink. Based on cutting-edge AI technology, they give you the right insights into what’s happening at your restaurant. This will help you prevent both the actual dine and dash situations, and also your employees stealing by blaming it.
Although each act of stealing is on a microscopic scale, taken together, they can result in major losses for you. While you should take every tip here seriously it’s also pays to take a more holistic approach. Make sure your employees feel a sense of ownership and participation when they work for you. This will create a culture of loyalty and honesty that will eventually make these measures redundant.