10 Tips to Reduce Employee Theft at Restaurants

By Cheryl Knight

1.) Supervise Employee Access: Managers should monitor which employees have keys to the restaurant, as well as access to other areas such as cash drawers or location safes. Keep a list of any employees who have access to front door, safe, and register keys, and have each employee read and sign off on a list of the proper procedures for using restaurant keys.

2.) Set and Communicate Cash Handling Policy: Train employees who handle cash on the front or back end how to work a cash register and count money. Also require that a manager witness and sign off on till balances and safe deposits.

3.) Watch for Inconsistent Till Balances: After tills are counted, managers should ensure that the drawer balances to transaction receipts. If an employee continues to have a till not balance, managers must take immediate action and retrain the employee on how to properly handle cash, as well as the cash register. If a problem persists, theft could be an explanation.

4.) Monitor Product Inventory: Managers should track inventory on a regular basis, which could include weekly, monthly, or even daily tracking. Make sure to keep an accurate record of all supplies, including food and beverages. If inventory comes up short, employee theft could be the cause.

5.) Manage the Location Actively: Managers should take an active role in operating procedures within the restaurant. This not only helps deter theft, but can also boost employee morale.

6.) Install Sufficient Lighting: Ensure that lighting is sufficient inside the location and outside. Increasing visibility not only deters thieves, it increases overall employee safety. Also consider motion sensor lights to save energy.

7.) Offer Employee Profit Sharing and Other Perks: Employees who share in the profits are less likely to steal because they are essentially stealing from their coworkers, some of whom are probably friends. Profit sharing has also been proven to increase overall worker productivity. Also, offering free or discounted meals can help reduce theft since it helps employees feel appreciated and valued.

8.) Get Employees Involved: Empower employees to share in the responsibility of the restaurant. Even consider offering a bonus, reward, or award to employees who consistently balance tills or help productivity in other ways.

9.) Install Security Systems: Surveillance cameras can help deter employee theft, as well as potential criminals. Also implement other security measures, such as changing up safe codes and not allowing copies of keys to be made.

10.) Access Startup Capital: To fund a new venture or expand an existing one, check out foodstart.com, a community-funding platform designed for food trucks and independent restaurants. In exchange for capital, backers receive great perks!