According to the National Restaurant Association employee theft will cost you approximately 4% of annual sales. Not only can this add up quickly, it can cause owners and managers undue stress as they struggle to gain control over their business.

What is the number one reason for employee theft in a restaurant?

It is easy to do. In the restaurant business it is easy to give free food to friends or family, not ring in a ticket or item, or over pour at the bar. Employees often don’t think of this as theft. They may even think of it as offering good customer service.

Once the employees share with each other how easy it is to not ring a ticket, etc. employee theft can take over and the results can be damaging to both profits as well as morale. To ensure you protect your business from this downward spiral follow these 5 steps:

  1. POS System – Have a good POS system. There are many POS systems on the market today that track everything from sales and inventory to measures of alcohol poured. Information can now be stored in the cloud. This will save you time and money on installation and will allow you to check reports from anywhere you have internet access.
  2. Surveillance – Install surveillance systems where cash is handled such as behind the bar and at cash registers and safes. Don’t think of the cameras as intrusive but rather a deterrent, taking away any temptations.
  3. Keep Records – Keep track of sales and inventory and share this information at regularly scheduled staff meetings. Enlist the help of your employees by offering sales goals and incentives. This not only lets them know you keep track of inventory and sales, but it also allows them a chance to be rewarded for helping you achieve a common goal.
  4. Be Strict – Define theft and the consequences clearly in a procedure manual and have the employees sign a contract stating that they understand the terms in your manual. Be sure to include an option for employees to report theft anonymously.
  5. Free Food – Give employees free or discounted food. Allow employees to bring in friends and relatives for a discounted rate. This not only brings you customers it allows employees a chance to show off where they work and instills a sense of pride.

After all you could not run your restaurant without the help of your staff. Your job should be a balance between removing temptations as well as provide an atmosphere that lets employees know you value and respect them.

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