The Best Ways to Reduce Restaurant Employee Theft

The Best Ways to Reduce Restaurant Employee Theft

If you don’t want to bear your portion of the estimated 6 million dollars annually in lost revenue due to restaurant employee theft, then get ready for action.

This concise guide will cover the most effective steps you can take to ensure your staff isn’t robbing you blind.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Why Do They Steal?

When restaurant staff are caught thieving from their employer, they’ll come up with a lot of reasons why.

But the truth is there is only one reason — because they thought they could get away with it.

If you have a lax management style and let little things go until it’s a problem your staff will notice. They’ll see that you’re not keeping very good track. And that’s when they smell opportunity.

They’ll start small at first, assuring themselves that you won’t notice when theft takes place. Then it becomes a habit and becomes more flagrant. And when they get sloppy is when you finally take notice—hundreds of uncountable dollars later.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Keep Your Eyes Everywhere

It starts by monitoring your employees’ actions. Make sure they know you have eyes everywhere. After all, cameras are cheap these days.

You should have cameras both visible and hidden. People check their actions by who they think is watching them. Leverage this self-check by assuring them that there is no hiding.

Place cameras strategically:

  • Above registers
  • Over the bar
  • At all entry and exit points
  • In the prep area
  • In the kitchen
  • In dry storage and the walk-in

It’s important to tell staff that they are being watched at all times by visible and hidden cameras. No thief wants to get caught red-handed on tape.

Gain Control With Cash Drawer Management

Get a POS system with advanced cash drawer management functionality.

The basic POS cash drawer functions as an account, tracking the money going into and out of the physical cash drawer attached to the system. Follow proper drawer management procedures.

Open and close a drawer for each shift. Take note of any losses and question those who were using the drawer. A good policy is don’t let anyone count their own cash drawer.

Advanced POS cash drawer tools you should be aware of increase accountability beyond the basics.

  • Bar Drawers -- Also known as A/B drawers let you use one POS tablet to control multiple cash drawers. The bartender’s PIN number is tied to their personal drawer, so they are responsible for their own cash. They’re less likely to steal when there is no one else to blame.
  • Remote Cash Drawer Reports -- With Rezku POS you can view your cash drawer accounts anywhere you have internet. You’ll see cash in, out, notes and any discrepancies when the drawer is closed.
  • Server Drawers -- An alternative way to manage cash when servers don’t use a cash drawer. At the end of the night the POS system tells you exactly how much money the server owes the house. No funny business allowed.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Set POS Permissions In Detail

There are lots of little tricks that restaurant staff can try to pull in their attempts to put one over on the restaurant. Luckily, a modern point of sale system like Rezku POS knows these tricks and blocks them ahead of time with permissions.

IT security professionals have a rule, “only give permissions they need to do their job.” Rezku POS lets you set individual permissions off for a group or per employee. Don’t allow servers to apply discounts, remove or modify items, or anything else that could be used to hide money and give away food.

Splitting up duties between different managers is also a good idea. Giving away too many liberties to individual managers can come back to bite us if our trust has been misplaced.

Get The Details In Reports

With advanced reporting you’ll always know who’s doing what.

Pull a detailed record of:

  • Every comp
  • Every discount
  • Use of the “No-Sale” button
  • Every void and cancelled order
  • Every refund

Detailed reports with notes make it easy follow up with your staff and find out why they performed these actions.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Track Inventory To Protect Your Bottom Line

Many servers and bartenders don’t think stealing food and drinks is wrong since there’s so much of it around. You need to be vigilant to make sure this behavior doesn’t spread through your restaurant.

POS inventory management systems help to ensure that stock isn’t being shoveled out the back door, or the front.

  • Weigh all inventory as it comes in
  • Subtract any prep-waste from the total
  • Enter the total amount in your inventory management system
  • When you sell on your POS stock levels are adjusted automatically
  • Audit to compare expected levels with inventory on hand to discover discrepancies

Are you missing filet mignon? Short bottles of your top-shelf liquor? Review the cameras and catch those dirty dogs!

Actions Speak The Loudest

By creating a culture of accountability your staff will know that there’s no room to mess around. It’s not about fear, it’s about maintaining honesty. After all, if they’re not doing anything wrong they have nothing to worry about.

When restaurant staff members know that:

  • They are being watched on camera
  • The are locked out of sensitive settings
  • You can pull detailed records of everything they do
  • At any time you have a live view from your smartphone

You’ll have a very good sense of who’s trustworthy and who’s not. You can effectively investigate when you suspect an issue.

When you weed out the dishonest members of your team they won’t have a chance to spread their bad habits to the rest of your team.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Positive Steps To Reduce Restaurant Theft

Aside from punishment and surveillance, there are positive steps to reduce staff theft that are powerful.

Show appreciation for staff that works hard

Since you have cameras everywhere you can reward those who do their job to reinforce good behavior, even if it’s just kind words of encouragement. Use your monitoring to take note of who’s trustworthy. Open opportunities for advancement for those who exhibit a good work ethic.

Get to know your team members

Showing you care about your staff goes a long way toward reducing their ability to justify stealing from a stranger. When you’re not “some faceless business” but a hard working person who shows genuine concern for their needs you’ll build a sense of loyalty and respect.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure


Using these powerful techniques you’ll be able to create a culture of accountability in your restaurant. You can improve the relationship between servers, kitchen staff, managers, and owners by increasing the amount of trust. As the saying goes, “Trust but verify.”

This guide to the best ways to reduce restaurant employee theft is brought to you by Rezku. Founded in 2012 by veteran restaurant owner Paul Katsch, Rezku is dedicated to helping food and beverage industry entrepreneurs like you do more, providing innovative hospitality management systems to restaurants and bars across America.

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