Restaurant owners can lose profit in a number of ways, and the most common is often due to the tactics and scams that employees use to engage in restaurant theft. Dishonest employees steal not just from restaurant owners but also from customers. Knowing what they do to commit restaurant theft will allow restaurant owners to reduce opportunities for the most common methods of restaurant theft shared below.
Overpouring Drinks or Giving Drinks for Free
Waiters and bartenders can sometimes overpour or give away free drinks to get better tips from customers. Beverages are expensive and often bring in more profit margin than the food served. This means that letting waiters and bartenders get away with this can result in a huge loss for the business.
Eating Without Paying and Stealing Inventory
While some establishments do provide free meals to employees, a careful accounting of what was eaten should be noted to have a real record of what was consumed and maybe save money. When this practice is too lax, some employees can make it a habit to simply not report what they eat and encourages them to go as far as ‘shop for free grocery’ in the restaurant’s pantry to take home.
Not Reporting Food Wastage
Kitchen staff who don’t report food wastage or deliberately order more than needed with the intention of pocketing the excess are stealing from the business. Even having too many returned dishes or voided-out items can rack up cost although there may be no intention of causing mistakes in order to have an excuse to take some items home. This can also cause problems with inventory and really affect profit.
Fraudulent Tip Adjustment
Because credit card tips on bill receipts are entered to the POS system manually, some waiters may take advantage by adding a dollar or two for every transaction. This small-scale scam can accumulate huge amounts of ‘extra tip’ over a period of time, not to mention it is really straight up stealing.
Pocketing the Cash Difference when Voiding or Comping Items
This type of scam may not be easy to detect because the customer and the restaurant are both truly left in the dark by the server or the person manning the cash register. In this scam, the customer is charged the right amount for the food served but the server then voids an item or two from the ticket and keeps the money paid for those items. For example, the total bill is $49 and the customer hands over $50, telling the cashier to keep the change. The fraudster then voids an item worth $17 so the total sale reflects only $32 and not $49, the cost of the voided item is pocketed by the fraudster. The fraudster makes easy money, the customer has no idea it happened, and the restaurant basically served a free item. This is usually detected after a thorough accounting of items served and the items listed in the final sales report but this is near impossible to do without a good POS system. The same goes for the wagon wheel method but the difference is that the wagon wheel scam goes through several bills.
While a restaurant’s management can educate employees about how the various restaurant theft methods shared above can hurt everyone as a whole, the fact remains that fraudulent people will still act out of selfish reasons. It is best to have a system in place that flushes out wrongdoers and can detect problems early on. Talk to us at Haywood Hunt to inquire about how our private investigation services can benefit your restaurant business beyond workplace investigations.
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