How to Prevent Employee Theft in Your Restaurant

The food service industry is notorious for employee theft. While theft is an issue in any business, the ease of taking cash, giving free food or drinks to friends, or taking food for oneself in the restaurant biz is super simple. And while no employer wants to think that their employees are stealing behind their backs,  due to the fact that it is so easy to steal without getting caught, employers can see large chunks of their profits dwindle steadily over time.

However, all is not lost. If you take the time to identify possible areas of theft, and then set up a system that monitors these areas, you have a chance of limiting the amount of theft in your eatery. In addition, if your staff is aware of this monitoring system, and of your zero tolerance for stealing, you may be able to prevent theft in your business.

Preventing Employee Theft from Your Restaurant

Here are some key areas that you can monitor to prevent theft in your food establishment.

1. Sales and InventoryTracking System

Using your POS system to its fullest potential will be the best way to keep track of your sales and inventory and to become alerted if there are any discrepancies between the two. Keeping a close record of the amount of food, beverages, and alcohol sold during each shift versus what is in inventory will allow you to compare what you have in stock with what was sold to determine if there is anything missing. This requires vigilance and a hands-on approach to your business, which employees will take notice of, minimzing their desire to steal.

2. Keep Your Eye on the Cash

Installing security cameras at any location where cash is being handled is your best insurance against the theft of cash. While it is very easy to skim cash off a sale, e.g. by claiming a diner left without paying or didn't pay the full amount, having cameras to prove these claims will help your numbers match at the end of the day. In addition,.by limiting access to the safe, cash drawers and cash registers to only a select few employees, you can also impede the loss of cash in your restaurant. Customer checks can also be voided and cashed by employees, so having managers sign off on checks and keeping vigilant records of any checks, can be a deterent to the theft of cash.

4. Employee Benefits

One way to prevent theft is to offer your employees benefits to working at your restaurant. These can either include one free meal per shift, or coupons to eat at the restaurant or other perks to show that you care. If employees feel that they are working for a caring employer, they are less likely to steal. However, beware, as these perks can be turned against you. Perks must be closely monitored so employees do not take advantage of your generosity and share their perks with friends and customers in the form of free drinks and free side dishes in exchange for higher tips. 

5. Employee Consequences

Once you have your tracking system in place, it is vital that these monitoring systems are transparent and openly discussed, so that employees are aware that they are being monitored. They should also be very clear about the consequences you have set up for anyone caught stealing. This could be anything from losing their job to legal action being taken against them, depending upon the nature of the theft. As mentionned at the beginning, if employees understand that there is zero tolerance for theft, they will be less likely to give it a try.

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