10 Ways to Reduce Theft in Your Restaurant

Reducing Theft in Your RestaurantTheft from restaurants lowers profits and can bring about the collapse of a business.

Most stealing is done by employees, and involves cash, food, alcohol, supplies, and equipment, but customers and burglars may also account for some of the losses.

These ten tips help to reduce restaurant theft.

1) Be There

Managers or owners should be present in the restaurant with staff at all times, to keep an eye on things and be involved in operations. 

Restaurant managers must be passionate about what they do, be on site, and determined to succeed. Managers or owners that are on site, eliminate or hinder the opportunity for theft.

Being a hands-on owner is the best way to make sure your restaurant is not robbed blind. Check delivery notes immediately or get senior management to do so to make sure you’re not receiving short deliveries or lower quality items than you ordered. Scrutinize invoices as soon as you can for overcharges.

2) Apply Same Methods and Systems

All staff should perform accounting tasks using identical methods. For instance, each shift must cash up in the same way so that it’s easy to extract figures on cash takings, profit and so on. Use a drop safe if your restaurant handles large amounts of cash, and make sure the money is deposited regularly.

Related: Reducing Waste to Control Restaurant Food Cost

3) Physically Take Stock

Stock should be physically counted regularly. If necessary, bring in an external auditor to do this task so that you know the figures are correct. Checking inventory should also include all deliveries made to your restaurant. Keeping a close eye on inventory is essential in not only preventing theft, but also in controlling food cost. 

4) Spot Cash Checks

Do cash counts at random times. Voiding sales, redeeming non-existent vouchers and giving friends and family large, unauthorised discounts are all tricks staff may try at POS.

5) Keys and Passwords

Only give keys, codes and passwords to trusted members of staff. Keeping this information secure is a responsibility, so make sure these staff know they are accountable if anything goes missing.

6) Offer Staff Meals

An excellent way to prevent the theft of food is to offer your staff free or discounted meals. Make it a rule that another staff member makes and rings up the meal to prevent this practise from getting out of hand.

7) Check Trash Bins

Do random checks on trash bins in the kitchen to ensure that items are not hidden in them. Only use clear bin bags so that it’s easy to identify what’s inside them.

Related: 7 Tips in Determining Your Restaurant Menu Content and Prices

8) Install Security Systems

CCTV cameras inside and outside restaurant premises as well as extra lighting in parking areas and at the entrance to your food outlet help to deter theft by outsiders. Use cameras inside with discretion, or your staff will feel they’re not trusted, which is bad for morale.

9) Network

The Restaurant Association of South Africa recommends that restaurants share information about staff who have been dismissed for fraud or theft as well as about methods of scammers and thieves who target the hospitality industry. Additionally, check references given by prospective employees and, if necessary, get background checks done.

10) Foster a Positive Environment

Although theft can be a problem in a restaurant, it’s important not to get fixated on it or develop an atmosphere of mistrust. If your staff feel appreciated and amply rewarded for their work, they are much less likely to steal from your restaurant.

Give financial bonuses when they are warranted, pay for training so that employees are well motivated, and always treat each person with respect.

Although theft usually involves staff, customers are also known to remove items from restaurants: cutlery, salt and pepper shakers, cloth serviettes and toilet paper seem to top the list, but bigger items like table centrepieces, pictures off the walls and lamps also tend to “walk” out the door. Encourage your staff to be aware and alert to these light-fingered patrons.

What other methods does your restaurant employ? Leave a comment below.

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