The Best Ways to Reduce Restaurant Employee Theft

If you’re not ready to bear your part of the estimated 6 million dollars in lost revenue due to restaurant employees stealing from their workplace, then get ready. This concise guide will cover the most effective things you can do to ensure staff isn’t able to rob you blind!

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Why Do They Steal?

When people are caught thieving from their boss, they come up with lots of reasons for why but the truth is there is only one reason – because they thought they could get away with it.

What you say is far less meaningful than what you do when it comes to setting an example for employees. If you present a lax management style and let things go until it’s a problem, they’ll see that you’re not really keeping track of things and won’t notice if theft takes place.

You need to implement definitive action steps to change the culture and the mindset in the restaurant to one of accountability and honesty.

Keep Your Eyes Everywhere

Cameras are cheap these days; you should have them all over. Both visible and hidden. People grade their actions by who they think they are being watched by.

Make sure to place cameras strategically above registers, at entry and exit points, in prep, the kitchen, and the walk-in. Then tell staff that they are being watched by visible and hidden cameras, so they don’t think twice when it comes to stealing. No thief wants to get caught red-handed on tape!

Control Cash with Drawer Management

Even the most basic POS system should have cash drawer management, allowing you to open and close a drawer for each shift and account for losses.

But there are advanced tools you should be aware of that increase accountability. Bar drawers are also known as A/B cash drawers let you use one tablet to control multiple drawers, so each server or bartender is responsible for their own cash. They’re less likely to steal when there is no one else to blame.

A common trick is to remove items from a guest’s bill after the guest has paid, pocketing any cash left over at the end of the night. To combat this, managers should count the drawers for servers instead.

Stock You Don’t Sell Is Theft Too

Many restaurant employees don’t think of stealing food or drinks as wrong since there’s so much of it around. You need to be vigilant when it comes to this behavior and make sure it doesn’t spread.

Weigh all inventory as it comes in. Then subtract any prep-waste from the total. Use inventory management features in your modern point of sale to track portions as they are sold. Compare expected stock levels with real inventory to search for significant discrepancies. Are your missing lots of steaks? Shorted bottles of top-shelf liquor? Go back and review the cameras!

Set Permissions down to the Detail

It’s well known to IT professionals that the best practice is to only give users permissions they need to do their job. A proper advanced point of sale will let you set individual permissions off or on for each employee.

No longer allow new servers to enter discounts, remove items, open other server’s orders or do anything that could be used to hide money or give away food. They can ask a manager if they really need to fix something.

Splitting up duties between managers is also a good idea, maybe you don’t want them to count out their own cash drawer, for example. Giving too many liberties to managers can come back to bite us if our trust has been misplaced.

If your POS has good reporting features, you should be able to pull a record of every comp, discount, no-sale, and void for the night easily and follow up with your staff regarding why they performed these actions.

Actions Speak Loudest

When staff members know that they are being watched on camera, are locked out of settings, and detailed records of everything they do on the POS are being kept two things will happen. The first is that you’ll have a very good sense of who’s trustworthy and who’s not and the second is that you can investigate and weed out the dishonest members of your team before they have a chance to spread their bad actions to other staff.

There are other powerful steps you can take to reduce staff theft that involves more positive actions.

Show appreciation for staff that works hard — since you have cameras everywhere you can reward those who do their job to reinforce the behavior.

Even if it’s just kind words of encouragement, getting to know your team members and showing you care about them goes a long way toward their ability to justify stealing from a stranger.



Using these techniques you should be able to create a culture of honesty and accountability between servers, kitchen staff, managers, and owners. And though that, a trust that is based on truth of action, not blind hope.


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