8 Ways To Help Control Employee Theft at Your Restaurant

As if the day to day challenges of running a restaurant aren’t enough. The fierce competition, marketing, keeping guests satisfied and coming back for more, getting those 5-star Yelp reviews. The list goes on and on. But what about your own staff stealing from you right under your nose?  Employee theft is a big problem for restaurants. Annual costs associated with employee theft in the restaurant industry are estimated at $3 to $6 billion nationally!! Employee theft is a bad situation for any business, and unfortunately it’s a common one in the restaurant industry.

Restaurant employees may provide free food to their friends and family, or they may take restaurant items home or steal money and tips.

Here are some precautions to take to prevent employee theft at your restaurant:

  • Have a Theft Policy and Make it Known: Make sure every employee knows how the company defines employee theft and the repercussions of any theft. Offer annual training on the subject and have employees sign a policy. Place posters and signs around the restaurant to keep the policy fresh in employees’ minds.
  • Conduct Background Checks: Check the references of all hired employees. If the applicant is a high school student and has never had a job before, contact his/her guidance counselor or ask for the contact information from a babysitting or dog sitting job.
  • Use Technology: Video surveillance cameras are an excellent way to catch potential thieves, but they can also be a positive for the restaurant by pointing out procedural problems or ensuring employees are being safe on the job. Also, using technology that limits the amount of employee cash handling can deter would-be thieves.
  • Treat Employees with Respect: Employees who are treated fairly and with respect by their employers are less likely to steal from the company. The employees feel less justified in stealing from those who care about them and treat them with dignity.
  • Conduct a Drawer Check: Make sure the money balances out at the end of each shift.
  • Keep a Careful Inventory: After each shift, count the remaining items and compare them to the items sold, paying specific attention to the products you sell the most of. Make employees aware that you conduct these daily inventories to deter them from trying to steal anything in the first place.
  • Keep Your Eyes on the Trash: Employees tend to steal things when they are taking out the trash. Use clear bags to reduce the likelihood that this will occur.
  • Get to the Root of the Problem: If you suspect an employee of stealing, move him/her to another shift. If you recognize that you are now missing items from the new shift, approach the employee calmly and ask for an explanation.
  • Protect Your Customers: A new way of stealing from customers is called credit-card skimming. Restaurant employees will swipe the customer’s card through an unauthorized magnetic card reader to obtain their account information. Then, the data is copied and used to make counterfeit cards. To prevent this from occurring in your establishment, monitor the register closely and only allow seasoned employees to handle customer money and credit cards.

Need help dealing with employee theft problems at your restaurant? Or, have other risk management issues you need guidance on? Contact me today to talk.

Focus on what you do best, providing the delicious food and ambiance that will keep your guests coming back posting those 5-star Yelp reviews. The money will follow and you deserve to have it in YOUR pocket.

-JCK

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About Jim Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jim is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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