July 2, 2015 | By Ron Miller |
I wish there was a way to sugarcoat this. What I’m about to write makes everyone uncomfortable and no one likes to talk about it; but it is time we did. According to statistics from the National Restaurant Association, about 4% of your sales are lost to employee theft.
Mostly it’s small stuff that we all see: a plate of french fries here, a shot of tequila over there. Most the time when we see the little stuff, we just turn our heads the other way. We rationalize it as the cost of having employees…but it adds up. And then there’s the big stuff that we don’t see: bar tabs that aren’t rung up, steaks disappearing from the walk-in and inappropriate check voids. Have you ever thought about how easy it is to add a digit in front of a tip amount on a charge slip?
Your employees are constantly handling valuable food, alcohol and cash. You have to trust them, and yet not everyone is trustworthy. In fact, a recent study found that 75% of restaurant employees had at least seriously considered stealing from their employer. The reason is that it’s so easy.
Maybe 4% doesn’t sound like much, especially when compared to the approximately 64% of your expenses that are sunk in food cost and labor. Consider this: for the average restaurant location, 4% amounts to more than $27,000 a year. How does that feel?
How do you put a stop to it?
Without putting cameras in every corner of your place and spending your night in a dark room staring at monitors, you can still crack down on the problem. The key is to keep track of your inventory and compare it to sales. Your POS reports should exactly match what was removed from inventory. No guessing. No fudging. They should match. You can check these reports manually but there are better ways.
A good POS system, a good inventory system and the diligence to maintain that inventory really pays off. Of course, PeachWorks has an inventory system that we’d love for you to use, but the most important thing is that you do something.
Keeping a good inventory makes sense anyway. Knowing your food cost and maximizing your profit on every menu item is critical. If it can stop product from disappearing, however, it instantly pays for itself.
For example, we have a customer using our system who was able to track down a manager that was stealing. That manager was voiding checks after customers paid. “It took me about five minutes and I could pull every single check where that happened. And so, I mean, money wise right there, it will save you. It will pay for itself if you have just one manager doing something like that.”
It’s not just about money, either. Theft really comes down to respect and respect is at the core of morale at every business. Employees who trust each other and respect each other, also work well together. Stealing is never a sign of a good work environment.
If a restaurant follows these practices, not only will they catch theft when it happens, they can prevent theft. If all of the staff know that these practices and tools are in place, those who were “just thinking” about stealing, won’t.
Theft isn’t easy to talk about but what’s harder to stomach is not safeguarding against it. It’s time to do something and we’d be happy to talk to you about it. Our restaurant experience is key; we’ve been in your shoes.
>>We’ve created an infographic about employee theft that you can download and print. Click here to download it.