Losing Pennies a Day Can Add Up
Whether you own one restaurant or 100, there's no eluding the fact that theft happens. Fraudulent activity is a regular occurrence in many industries but it rears its ugly head the most in restaurants. Why, you ask? You've been in restaurants for years, of course you know why! Your employees handle money and make the food! It's no secret how easy it is to void a transaction or cancel a made or unmade order and pocket the money. The question is, how do you catch it and attempt to stop it? We've created five best practices that may help you out. You're an Above Store Leader so you can't be in every store, every day - here's how you can get your arms around fraudulent activity in your store(s):
1. Install Video Surveillance
If you want the increased control over what's occurring inside the four walls of your locations, installing a video surveillance system may be an option for you. Though it does not track POS or BOH activity or anything on a check level detail, you still have the capability to observe instances of fraud and catch a thief red-handed. Downfall: cost. This is can be very expensive and the hardware set-up, upkeep and maintenance can become quite extraneous. It may also damage employee moral. How would you like to have a camera hovering over your desk, 24/7?
2. Hire a Full-Time or Part-Time Auditor
Depending on the size and volume of your locations, it might be wise to hire an external source to scour through receipts and spreadsheets to discover where the loss or theft is happening. You have a company to run so this part of the job is something you must outsource to someone else! This option takes the burden of number crunching and "Excel-Hell" off your shoulders and all you need to do is decide if action is appropriate once fraud is discovered. But again, this can get quite costly. Whether he/she is on payroll or is contracted, money is coming from your tight budget to make this happen and it's not cheap!
3. Divide and Conquer
If money is a factor, the cheapest option is to divide and conquer. And by that I mean, make it a responsibility for the store or district manager. Ultimately they are accountable for all money coming in and leaving the store. However, refer to option 2 and include the above into their already busy schedule. Detecting fraud is time consuming; there's no doubt about it. Have you been manager or district manager before? Chances are you have and you understand how busy it is to run a store or oversee 5-7 locations. Including fraud detection not only adds more pressure to the individual, it also takes up more of their time.
Why not, right? It's your company and you have control over it. If you are being stolen from, you want to know who is doing it and where it is occurring. And most importantly, you want to do everything in your power to prevent it from happening again. So, what you can do is take your POS, BOH and inventory data and do it yourself to detect where the fraudulent activity is occurring within your restaurants. Essentially it's everything the auditor would be doing in option #2... This might be the best practice to ensure things get done the right way (aka your way) but keep in mind the work load you are taking on.
5. Partner with a 3rd Party Vendor
And lastly, the fifth and final best practice: a partnership. You've more than likely been involved with a number of different partnerships throughout your career. Some have been great and successful, others have been dismal and failed. You don't want to get burned or scammed and you certainly don't want to give your wallet away in a partnership. Finding the right company to partner with is often times the toughest part. If you have decided that options 1-4 are not your desired pathways to loss prevention, consider partnering with a company. Do your research! There are many companies that offer fraud detection apart of their product offerings. One suggestion: make sure the company deals directly with the restaurant industry.
Educate yourself to make the best decision for you, your company and your employees. Truth is, you place a lot of trust in your employees to not only take care of customers but take care of money, as well. You know if an employee is treating the customer poorly, almost immediately. Don't you think theft should be the same way?
Mirus provides services in data management and solutions in custom reporting for the restaurant industry.
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