Employee theft can wreak irrevocable damage on a restaurant, not only in terms of morale but from a financial perspective too.
Considering that there are reports that 75 percent of all restaurant inventory shrinkage occurs as a result of employee theft, it’s a critical issue facing today’s restauranteurs. And since it’s not uncommon for an increase in employee theft — or theft in general — to occur around the holidays, now is a great time to double down on your prevention efforts.
Here are three ways that employee theft can occur and the best practices to prevent it year-round.
1. Point-of-Sale Transactions
Theft occurring at point-of-sale (POS) terminals is extremely common in retail settings and restaurants are no different. Just think of this scenario and you can understand why: It’s the holiday season and you have an influx of patrons coming in to eat and drink. They may be using coupons or taking advantage of other holiday promotions, purchasing or redeeming gift cards, and don’t forget about the nightly holiday parties that the restaurant is hosting.
This hectic environment can make it difficult for a restaurant manager to keep an eye on every single employee. In turn, this may be a prime time for employees to “skim the drawer.”
There are all sorts of methods that ill-intentioned employees, and unfortunately, even managers may use including:
- Charging a patron for a top-shelf vodka but ringing up and serving them the lower quality liquor and pocketing the difference in cash;
- Ringing up a transaction as “no sale” and taking the patron’s cash anyways;
- Voiding out a cash transaction at closeout and keeping the cash for themselves.
Prevention Tip: Track all food and beverage sales with a POS system. When an order is placed and sent to the kitchen or bar staff, it cannot be altered or changed without consent from management. Keep an eye out for an increasing number of “no sale” transactions when you review the sales records. An uptick in this number should warrant further investigation.
2. Employees Stealing Food or Liquor
While the POS system can help cut down on employees stealing food or beverages for themselves or others, it doesn’t necessarily address the potential theft of ingredients. Items like canned goods, meats, or bottles of liquor are all susceptible and can add up very quickly.
Prevention Tip: At a minimum, install security cameras at all entrance and exit points, POS locations, and the office where the safe is located or where deposits are prepared. Make sure that your security system utilizes a digital video recorder (DVR) platform so that films are stored and can be reviewed days or weeks in the future as needed. Visible security cameras have the added benefit of being a deterrent for robbers as well.