Restaurant Operations

Restaurant Theft Prevention

Restaurant Theft Prevention

Restaurant Theft Prevention
Theft Comes In Many Forms

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
Many restaurant owners and management are completely oblivious to theft happening right under their noses on a daily basis in their restaurants. No business is immune to theft. Thieves will only profit from cash paying customers.

70% of revenue losses are employee related either by theft, training or mistakes.

90% of restaurants fail in the first year, while %10 survives.  Revenue loss weather it is directly related to theft or training issues will make a huge impact on your restaurant’s future.

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
Restaurant Inventory Percentages

Typically a profitable restaurant needs to reach a food cost percentage 25% to 35%. The menu mix and the style of the restaurant dictates where you need to stand on in food cost percentage. Generally high end restaurants will have a higher food cost percentage. Fast food restaurants will be on the lower end of the food cost national average of 25% or lower. Sit down restaurants will be around 28% to 35%. Again, this depends on the menu mix and the style of the restaurant.

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
Restaurant Prime Cost

Most restaurants prime cost percentages need to be 60% to 65 %. Restaurant prime cost is food revenue, labor cost, payroll taxes and employee benefits which include unemployment taxes and health insurance. If your restaurant prime cost is above 65% or higher that should be a red flag for revenue loss.

Restaurant Theft Prevention
Voided Guest Checks

Employees can void guest from the POS system and then the cash payment are pocketed by the person voiding the guest check. Generally thieves will target guest that pays cash. This particular type of theft will also create a high food cost percentage.

Voiding customer checks are a manager’s function. Some employees may take advantage of the situation by asking for the manager’s swipe card. These employees will typically wait until the manager is locked into a position such as cooking in the kitchen. Some managers may give up their swipe card to key employees because they trust them. Never trust anyone with your swipe card. If an employee’s uses the swipe card to commit theft, then you the manager will be responsible mainly because your swipe card is attributed to you and no one else.

If you have a standard POS system then you should be able to create a report that shows voided checks per server. Look for inconsistencies amongst the server’s figures. Compare them to other server voids. This can be avoided if the managers manage the swipe card.

Restaurant Theft Prevention
Restaurant Coupons

Restaurant coupons that are saved and applied to guest checks: Servers or managers can unethically apply coupons to guest checks, then pocketing the cash.

Restaurant employees can clip out coupons from various sources such as newspapers or magazines. Customers may leave unused coupons on their table; the customers may even give the unused coupons to the server to give out to other customers who can use them.

There are several ways to detect and prevent coupon theft:  

  1. Server check pad audits: before any peak time period have each server should open up their server check pad so the manager can view the contents, look for loose coupons. If you discover loose coupons and they are not linked to any guest checks, then they should be destroyed by tearing them up and placing them in the trash can. Think about this, what purpose do these lose coupons serve?
  2. When a coupon is redeemed there should by two initials of them, the server and manager’s initial. The words VOID also should be written the guest check. The coupon should be stapled to the customers closing check.
  3. You should be able to track each server’s voids in your restaurants POS system. Look for inconsistencies and patterns. Compare each server bid amounts. At a glance you should be able to pinpoint potential theft or errors.

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
No Sale Button  

This is an easy way to steal from the register: The guest gives the guest check to the cashier or whoever is cashing out the guest and then opens the register by using the no sale button.  Once the drawer is open the employee will cash out the guest. If the guest requests a receipt, then the employee will print out a copy of the bill and give it to the guest. Of course, this will only work if the guest is paying cash.

A good idea is to eliminate the no sale button from your register. The only way for anyone to access the register is the employee that is assigned to the register or the manager. Contact the company where you bought the system from and they should be able to disable the no sale button.

If you prefer not to disable the no sale button then you need to closely monitor the register by viewing reports that will generate how many times the no sale button was used and by whom. To decrease potential issues with the register, install cameras.

There are servers who will purposely not add certain foods and drinks to the guest check: Some servers believe if they fail to place all the items onto the guest check, then the guest will leave a bigger tip to that particular server. There are three groups of certain products that servers may forget to add to the guest check:

  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Soda’s

These are known as the big three: server prepared items. It is relatively easy in not placing these items into the POS system, whether it is done intentionally or by accident. Either way this created revenue loss and a high food cost percentage.

To prevent or discover this type of issue the owner or the manager needs to perform a table audit. Print out a guest check and match up what’s on the slip to what’s on the table. Instead of accusing the employee of stealing, the owner or manager will open up that particular check in the POS system and place those missing items into the POS system and inform the server of what you did.

There is a high Probability that the server forgot to place those items into the POS system because they are server prepared items. The server will tell you that they do not have time to put those items into the POS system because it is time consuming. Mangers need to educate the staff to enter the drinks and foods into the POS system constantly.

Let us suppose the server forgot to put the drinks on the guest check and the guest leaves without paying for those items. On that particular guest check were two drinks totaling $4.00, let us say you lost $4.00 a day for a full year and that comes out to $1460.00 in revenue losses.  That is a great deal of money and that was only one server mistake. I am quite sure that other employees are making similar mistakes, not to mention that this is merely one item on your menu. Potentially you might be out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in revenue loss that can be prevented.

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
Credit Cards

This is another form of theft; the only person that is affected is the customer. Here is how it works: the guest signs the credit card slip and the signed copy is given to the guest, after the guest departs the restaurant the employee edits the tip amount to a higher amount. Another way is the guest paid with a credit card and left a cash tip on the table and then the server decided to write in a tip on the credit card receipt.

The credit card that was altered can be difficult to detect. The server might have drawn a line through the old amount then creating a new tip amount. The server may have used an eraser to remove the old tip, this pattern should be noticeable and if detected should be questioned. The customer may notice on their credit card statement that the tip was changed. The customer will call the restaurant to inform them that their credit card tip has been changed and that the customer want’s the difference credited back to them. Often the credit card company will get involved to help solve the matter.

How to detect this sort of credit card theft:when the manager who collects the servers ending cash and paperwork, including credit cards should be looking for altered tip amounts. If the manager suspects a server changing the tip on the guest check then the manager should conduct an investigation by reviewing other past credit cards for altered tip amounts. If the manager discovers other altered tip amounts then the credit card company needs to be informed. The credit card company will conduct their own investigation by contacting those affected by the altered tips on the guest checks. The police can be informed of the situation.  It is a bad practice to accuse any employee of wrong doing, especially when you have no documentation or proof. Get the police and credit card company involved when it comes to theft.

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
Employee Meals

Some restaurants give their employees a discount on their meals 25% to 50% off the full amount. In today’s uncertain economy, every penny counts. Employees who do not pay for their food are stealing from your restaurant.

Here is an example: John the cook decided not to pay for his meals, he cooks up a burger and fries and eats the meal while on the clock, concealing it from other employees and management. The cost for this meal is $7.49. John eats free meals 5 days a week. In a week’s time he stole $37.45. In months’ time $149.80. In years’ time $1797.60. Those numbers are huge and keep in mind that was only one employee.

Crate an employee meal policy: Employees should take their meal break before or after the peak meal periods. The meal break should be authorized by management. The employee meal should be consumed in a designated area. The cooks are the only individuals allowed in the kitchen cooking employee meals. The manager should be entering the employee’s meal into the POS system along with receiving the payment. The manager and the employee will initial the slip. The employee needs to keep that slip on them while eating the meal. If other managers ask if the meal was paid for then the employee will present the receipt to the manager proving that the meal was paid for.

No slip no food: If the cook does not have a ticket for that food it should not be made. The exception is if a manager verbally requests that meal to be cooked. This too applies to guest checks. Employee’s meals need to be prepared by the cooks. If employees are allowed to cook their own meals, then extra items may have been added to the meals that were not paid for.

Restaurant Theft Prevention:
Restaurant Forms and Checklists

The use of restaurant forms, restaurant forms and checklists and restaurant spreadsheets can dramatically increase your restaurant chances of survival as long as management consistently and correctly using the restaurant forms and checklists.

There are many types of restaurant forms and checklist that will help organize your restaurant:

 Go to: http://www.workplacewizards.com/restaurant-form/ to view all restaurant forms and checklists.