Restaurants are at high risk for loss for many reasons, but employee-caused losses are among the most common. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy for activities like skimming of the till to take place, especially in busy restaurants with a large number of employees. While these losses are often in small amounts, they can add up to big problems for a business. However, by following a few tips and implementing a few procedures for monitoring and investigating employee activities, you can reduce your risk and losses that can impact your bottom line.
Control the Cash Flow
The fewer people who have access to the cash, the lower the odds that cash will disappear. Limit the number of people who have access to the cash drawer and cash as it is transported at the end of the day. When fewer people have access to cash and there is a clear chain of accountability, you can lower the opportunities for cash losses and ensure more scrutiny on the people who do have access. Employees are less likely to consider skimming the till if they know they are among a select few who will face scrutiny if there is a problem.
Install and Use Inventory Control Systems
While cash is often the area of focus for losses, in the restaurant industry inventory can be as much of a concern, if not more. Employees may be less likely to see it as a theft if they take something from the restaurant’s inventory, or they may not realize the impact of giving a free meal to a friend. Inventory control systems, used properly and linked to your POS system, can help you to see where losses are occurring so they can be addressed.
Supervision Is Key
Supervision of employees can come in two forms: electronic surveillance and the eyes of good supervisors. Both are important to loss prevention. Video surveillance and systems such as key cards and till login controls can all act as deterrents to employees who might consider skimming or other forms of theft. Having human eyes on the process, however, can help you to identify the things you might not catch via electronic methods. Trusted employees in supervisory positions are able to understand the situations that lead to loss and recognize the thefts that even employees might not realize are a problem, such as grabbing a drink a few times a day or giving a friend a free side dish.
Be Proactive: Train Properly, Praise Often
Training programs can help to stop losses before they start by ensuring all employees know what is expected of them and what the proper procedures are for handling cash and inventory. Thoughtful training can also help employees understand the consequences of their actions, both for the restaurant’s bottom line and for their own future.
It’s also important to note that employees who feel valued are less likely to consider skimming in the first place. Programs that show appreciation for your employees can go a long way to forming bonds of trust and preventing losses.
Bring in Outside Help
Loss prevention companies can take some of the burden of monitoring your restaurant’s inventory and cash transactions. Hiring an outside company to watch for red flags, handle surveillance, and examine inventory and transaction reports frees you to focus on proactive loss prevention – and the day-to-day running of your business. Because the company is installing and monitoring surveillance systems, you won’t have to dedicate time to learning them or to monitoring them yourself – and loss prevention companies have the experience to catch the problems you might miss.