Restaurant theft is still a big issue, and technology and software can help curb it significantly.
Theft is a big issue in the restaurant industry. According to a report from the National Restaurant Association, internal employee theft is responsible for roughly 75% of missing inventory and accounts for a 4% loss in total sales.
The report also indicates that three out of four employees admit to having stole from the workplace at least once, with half admitting to stealing repeatedly.
Modern restaurant technology continues to offer new solutions to preventing employee theft through better monitoring of data. Here is some of the reporting and systems in place that have helped restaurants cut down on theft in the last few years.
Pocketing cash at the register is by far the most common form of theft by restaurant employees, as it’s quick, and can be covered without proper manager oversight.
Till management reporting enables managers to view their open/closed tills and monitor them based on actual cash amount and expected cash amount. These amounts are based on the transactions entered in the POS that are marked as paid in cash. In R365’s platform, these will poll the current till data every 15 minutes from the POS so that managers can count and enter in actual cash for closed tills throughout the day.
Managers can also set thresholds for things like over/short variances in order to better monitor them and receive red alerts for any current tills that are outside of those thresholds.
Till management is a great way to manage cashiers and open tills in (nearly) real-time through modern restaurant software. And it goes a long way towards theft prevention. Not only does the alert system allow for better, automated monitoring of cashiers/tills, but knowledge of the system can deter any attempts at theft.
Reports from your POS can be equally helpful in keeping an eye on possible theft. In particular, “deletions after total” is a big red flag. While deletions before total are common, normally where a customer changes their mind and selects a different item, deletions after total can indicate a cashier deleting an item and pocketing the cash difference.
Voids and comps are also areas to investigate, particularly at end of day. A high number of comps is typically easily corrected through some training of the employee issuing them. A high number of voids however, particularly at end of day, can indicate someone voiding out cash transactions and pocketing the cash different so the POS looks aligned.
While cash theft is far more common, inventory theft is also a big issue in restaurants. Restaurant inventory management continues to get better each year through software which allows better vigilance of inventory.
One way is through the monitoring of recipes, which in turn allows for monitoring of menu items. By digitalizing all your recipes and their ingredients, restaurant technology platforms allows all items to be easily tracked and reveal any variances. A sudden change in recipe costs can sometimes be due to employee theft of an item within the recipe.
This data can also be helpful in running actual vs theoretical (AvT) food cost analysis. AvT allows managers to see what their menu items should be costing them (theoretically) versus what they actually end up costing at the end of every day, week, or month. AvT has a number of uses, like revealing inventory waste or spillage, but a sudden change in AvT costs can also indicate employee theft.
Restaurant business intelligence is also giving restaurant operators new insights into multiple areas of their businesss, including fraud and theft. Business intelligence uses a number of metrics, data points, and software from your operations, and looks for variances or changes that are unexpected.
For example, a certain percent of your restaurant’s patrons order drinks with their food. One common form of theft is through the voiding or short ringing drinks, which don’t need to go to the kitchen for prep, where the cashier can pocket the cash.
If your average drinks per order is low, or abruptly changes to a lower value, advanced restaurant software can flag that number. You can then investigate shifts and tills accordingly.
While restaurant theft will never be completely wiped away, advanced reporting through software has made big waves in helping restaurants big and small reduce it. But these reports are only as useful if they’re used frequently to identify and stop theft. The real way to lower restaurant theft is through one thing: vigilence.